Thursday, March 24, 2011

why I'll eat meat today...

Today I’ll eat meat.  And drink beer.  And it's not "cheating".

I remember the first time I learned about solemnities during Lent.  It occurred, conveniently, during my freshman year of college when I had given up chocolate.  A box of fresh-baked cookies arrived in my mailbox from a well-intentioned friend.  As I sat in mass that evening, mourning the tragedy of allowing them to go to waste, the priest celebrating explained that it was the solemnity of the Feast of St. Joseph—that we were “allowed” and even encouraged to celebrate the feast day by partaking in whatever we had given up.
This caused a small existential crisis.  As a child I had always scoffed at those who “give up Lent on Sundays”.  I was homeschooled, after all.  A hardcore Catholic who knew prayers in Latin, not one of those slackers who gave up something random like blue starburst for Lent so that it’d be so easy they didn’t even remember what it was by Palm Sunday.  I did not “take Sundays off”.  However, in my short time at Franciscan I was realizing that perhaps my approach to faith had been a bit too regimented-- A lot about my will power and not so much about God acting.

Franciscan was the first time I really tried to incorporate the liturgy into life, realizing if the Church had lived this “schedule” for 2000 years there must be something to it.  I began to get into morning and evening prayer, celebrate special feast days, Lord’s Days and tried to reserve the Sabbath for God.  There’s a real benefit to taking advantage of earthly reminders to remember eternal realities. 

I ate the chocolate chip cookies that day, in honor of St. Joseph.  And ever since then, I have celebrated Sundays and solemnities in Lent.  Everyone's heard that Sundays don’t count as the forty days and all the theological reasons, but I’ve found that personally, it just allows me to experience the whole liturgical cycle better.  For example, if I go without chocolate or a glass of wine with dinner all week and then partake to celebrate on Sunday, it’s a physical reminder of an intangible reality.  Refocused in that way, the sacrifices of the week are more meaningful.

When it comes to the Sunday debate about Lenten sacrifices, I don’t judge either way.  
But I'm not cheating, I'm celebrating.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Except on Sundays and Solemnities.

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