Good day. In lieu of a Friday observation which I haven’t really done in a while anyway, I have decided to post a bullet-proof guide to surviving Lent. Why should you listen to someone who isn’t a member of the clergy when it comes to something so important to Christian formation? Easy. Because I have a degree in Theology and obviously having a degree in anything makes you a Jedi-level expert. Enjoy.
- When Do We Abstain From Meat, When Do We Fast?: This is a biggie. According to Canon 1250-3, Catholics are to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays throughout Lent. Catholics are also required to fast on both Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting is the practice of having one large meal plus two small meals not equaling one large meal throughout the course of a day with no snacks in between mealtimes. This seems arduous to many Catholics. They look at these dietary rules and shy away like a cat from a vacuum cleaner. The commonality shared by these particular Catholics is an almost alarming desire for meat at all times and a cabinet full of organic, holistic gout medications. There are also some Catholics who don’t seem to understand the purpose of this fasting and abstinence and decide that since they can’t have meat on Fridays, a four pound lobster and quart of melted butter is a decent substitute. QUESTION: Will Catholics who do not observe these rules go to Hell? ANSWER: Yes.
- What Should I Give Up for Lent?: Tough decision. We need to examine our lives and pick out the one thing that hardly ever crosses our mind, the one action we only undertake once every two months, the one joy that we forget that we like when we don’t have it directly in front of us, the one food or drink that we sorta like but don’t really care about and give that up. WRONG. Hell-bound, soulless bastards and she-bastards! Let benevolent Uncle J. M. edumacate you. We are supposed to give something up which we actually like. The point of this, is to be reminded more than once a day that it is Lent and when our desire for whatever we have given up shows itself in our minds, to replace that desire with thoughts about Jesus and His sacrifice for us. Also; giving up cheating on your spouse, serial killing, heavy meth use, peeping and armed robbery are not acceptable things to give up for Lent. You should just give those up anyway, ya know?
- How Long Does Lent Last?: Eternity. It lasts for eternity.
- Kids and Lent / Easter: I can hear you asking, “J.M., my kids are small and although I want them to understand the true meaning for the penitential season and the feast of Easter, I don’t want to get too heavy and ruin all the fun for them. What do I do”? Have no more worries, my silly, stupid, ignorant friend. Uncle J has the answer. First, tell your child about Jesus. Talk to them at an early age about the importance of God in our lives and the importance of the Church as a guide directly to Jesus Himself. You don’t have to rip the Easter bunny away from your child when they are little. However, if your child is approaching 13 and still believes in the bunsman, it might be time to put an end to it with the following story: Last night the Easter bunny was caught in a high-profile drug bust and was coked out of his mind. He charged the cops and they opened fire. He’s dead. Now go to sleep. Problem, meet solved!
- Do I Need to Go to Confession During Lent?: Who sees you when you’re sleeping AND knows when you’re awake? Who knows if you’ve been bad or good? If you said, “Santa” then you should reexamine your sick, twisted, Godless mind for goodness sake. The answer is God. The Church teaches us that we must go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a year during the Easter season if I read Canon 920 correctly. However, someone like you should try to go at least once a day. God’s love and mercy is infinite, mercifully for you. I’m not going to lie here; I try to go at least once a month. Which clearly makes me a better person than you. Sin of pride, you say? Not if it’s true.
- Lent Seems Kinda Sad: It’s supposed to be. You’re catching on.
- What Should I Make For Easter Dinner?: This is getting pathetic now. Just get some Spam and a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread. Instant classic.
So there it is, folks. You are most welcome.
Disclaimer: This was obviously a joke. Use Lent to bring yourself closer to Our Lord. Reflect on His sacrifice, His love for you and how lucky you are to take a breath each day. Use Easter to take all of that reflection and turn it into an expression of Christ’s love. Give to charity, help others, love your family, love your friends, love yourself, be nice, be happy, be confident and above all, say thank you. Many people have written about why we should say thank you to Jesus. I believe that one of the most important reasons why we should eludes many people. We should say thank you because He never asked us to say thank you. Humility, kids. Live it.