I was born and raised Roman Catholic, but I no longer practice the religion. I identify myself as a Christian nonetheless, with certain Catholic tendencies. These flare up considerably just before and during the season of Lent; I have a tendency to want to give something up in preparation for Easter. I fail more than I succeed, but every year I still hope to successfully abstain from something I do often but don’t need to do for forty days.
In the past, I have given up sweets (although to be honest I rarely eat them), all animal products, and eating take out; this year, I am giving up watching all television. Even though I don’t own a television, I find myself watching television programs online or renting television program series from the library or my local Blockbuster.
I don’t think my need to abstain from a guilty pleasure is due to Catholic guilt; instead, I think more people should do something similar to this regardless of their religious and/or spiritual affiliations because it helps in all sorts of life transitions. Personally, I feel that it helps with my transition from a particularly harsh winter, where I found myself sequestered indoors, to the spring and summer seasons, where I hope to be outside more often than not. Television is an indoor activity that has the tendency to isolate people from one another if done too much, and even a non-addict like me can see its negative effects in my own life.
So now that the season of Lent has begun, and I look forward to forty days without television and more books, I feel good knowing that I am doing it because I want to. It is a far cry from my Catholic school days, when I was forced to abstain from something to please the priests and religious educators who gave me little understanding or insight into Christianity as a whole. Because of this, the Lenten season means much more to me now than it ever did before.
Will you be giving up something for Lent?