the debate

22 Feb

Today is Ash Wednesday, which is the national Catholic day of grief as we prepare to give up the things we love for forty days and forty nights because you guys, for real, me giving up Cheetos is completely akin to Jesus dying on the cross for our sins.

Tit for tat.

Catholics across the world last night took their last sip of gin, their last bite of pizza, gave an Edward R. Murrow-esque signoff to Facebook, clicked off of the ShopBop website or dusted off their rosary beads and brushed up on the Apostles’ Creed* with a promise to return to church for the next month of Sundays.

The discussions of what to give up for Lent are always interesting ones to me mostly because they largely take place in my head, where I’ll have you know I am a scintillating conversationalist. There is a push-pull feeling to these debates, what do I want to give up, what SHOULD I give up, but should I really give X, Y or Z up? Because I know I cannot live for forty days without it, and I’ll just end up breaking my Lenten promise and feel bad about myself and that doesn’t really do Jesus any good, now does it?

Ergo, giving up pizza is out of the question.

Plus, what else am I supposed to eat on Lenten Fridays, when I can’t eat meat?

In the past, I’ve given up alcohol, sweets, potato chips, French fries, clothes shopping, and for a brief two weeks in high school, pop. But that last one was only until my best girlfriends convinced me that really, Jesus would not mind if I started drinking pop again, because me without my Pepsi products is simply a cruel boil on the world at large. Better to remain a delicate, if over-caffeinated, flower bringing peace and aspartame to the masses than cuss out Sister Mary Lightacandle every day because she walks too slowly down the hall. (Under my breath, of course.)

And before you question the giving up of sweets from the self-proclaimed salty/savory lover, know this: As soon as you tell me I can’t have something, I immediately want it/crave it. Which is how I found myself gulping huge quantities of root beer floats for breakfast a couple of years ago on Mardi Gras morning, followed by an éclair cake binge later in the day.

No judging.

This year the debate has loomed large in my head. Maybe clothes shopping again? No, I’ve been on a shopping hiatus anyway, so it would be more just an extension of my normal life, which seems like cheating to me. Try for another forty days of no sweets? Maybe, but I just got a bounty of flour from my friend Turner (another story for another post), and I don’t want to wait to use it. Pasta, or maybe carbs in general might be a good one, but that bears too much of a whiff of being akin to Atkins, or like a diet, and in my head while Lent might essentially be a test of willpower, using it as a God-approved time to diet seems, well, it just doesn’t seem right.

So I’ve made the executive decision: No booze. During the week.

Weekends, though. Different story.




What, if anything, are you giving up for Lent?

*At which point they will be in for a shock, because they changed the words. All that work Miss Traman did in second grade, making us memorize the creed for our first reconciliation? DOWN THE DRAIN. Thanks a lot, Pope.


10 Responses to “the debate”

  1. honeymustardseed February 22, 2012 at 8:12 AM #

    Isn’t there a “rule” that you aren’t technically supposed to say, so as not to “broadcast” your “piety” like those pesky Pharisees (that’s a lot of air quotes for someone who is a totally devoted, every-Sunday-in-the-pew Catholic. Forgive me.) But f’real, you already know what I’m giving up… and it can’t be harder than coffee like last year, right? RIGHT!? Ugh.

    • Solitary Diner February 22, 2012 at 8:21 AM #

      One of the joys of being an atheist is not having to give up anything for Lent. Of course, if I’m wrong in my beliefs, it may not be worth it for the eternal damnation.

      • honeymustardseed February 22, 2012 at 8:26 AM #

        That sounds like a book title one might see at Barnes & Noble: “The Joys of Unbelief”… right next to “The Joy of Cooking,” natch.

        In addition to being painfully risk averse, serious guilt comes naturally to me, so it would almost be wasteful not to have converted like I did. I’m just sayin.

      • mollystrz February 22, 2012 at 11:46 AM #

        Maybe the two books could combine and be The Joy of Unbelieving It’s Not Butter?

      • mollystrz February 22, 2012 at 11:47 AM #

        In that case, I gift you all of my booze from Monday-Friday. 😉

    • mollystrz February 22, 2012 at 11:44 AM #

      There probably totally IS a rule about not saying what you’re giving up, like how you’re not supposed to say what you’re wishing for when you blow out the birthday candles or it won’t come true. But I will defer to you on this one, Annliese, since I am one of the worst Catholics I know. Heh.

      I like to people what I’m giving up because it helps hold me accountable. Because if I didn’t, then you KNOW it would be some random Tuesday night and you’d be like, “What’d you give up for lent?” as I’m sipping my fourth glass of cabernet and I’d have to be all, “Ermm…pretzels.” Only because pretzels would be the one thing I hadn’t eaten that day. And then the next day it would be tilapia, which everyone would KNOW was a lie, since I don’t eat fish or seafood.

      And it’s never good to lie, but it’s ESPECIALLY not good to lie during lent. It’s like, extra bad. I think. But then again, I’m not really sure.

      Who has two thumbs and is a bad Catholic? This Girl.


      • Annliese February 22, 2012 at 12:09 PM #

        Nah, just giving you a hard time. I only know that “rule” because I was a roving reporter one year for my college paper, and I asked “what did you give up for Lent?” and published responses… my theology-studying colleagues gently informed me of the spirit of the season that day 😉

  2. Steph February 22, 2012 at 10:57 AM #

    I’m bad at this part too. In fact, I usually choose against giving up something and instead commit to doing something instead. Usually works.

    However, I just read a tweet from a fake twitter character that gave me an idea on what to give up. That’s weird, sad, and so very 21st century, no?

    • mollystrz February 22, 2012 at 11:45 AM #

      Weird and sad? Not at all, if you find it inspiring! Very 21st century? On. The. Money.

      Well done, my friend, well done!


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