For the past few days I have been contemplating what to give up for the Lenten season. Most years I choose to give up the indulgent and addictive drink I need and crave the most; coffee. As I drove into work I thought of this sacrifice; dreading having to do it. Most of my socializing is meeting people at the various local coffeehouses that are within walking distance of my home. But the thought struck me that giving up coffee does not, a good Catholic make. Does being a grump bring me closer to God? I changed course as I noted the traffic piled up on my freeway on-ramp; grumbling under my breath. Maybe I’m making excuses.
And so, amongst the file purging I went online and discovered a great website, What to Give Up For Lent. http://www.whattogiveupforlent.com/
For those of you unfamiliar with the Catholic Lenten season, today is Ash Wednesday; the first day. We abstain from eating meat today and all Fridays during the forty days of Lent (Sundays are not included in the forty days). Most fellow Catholics flock to the church and receive a black cross upon their foreheads. Last year, as the boys and I patiently waited in line, I heard grumbling from those leaving; complaining that it took so long. Amongst the Christian denominations Catholics get the worst rap; and sometimes rightfully so. The dutiful one hour of time on a Sunday (which most leave after receiving the Communion host) allows parishioners to return to their secular lives. I mean, if you’re going to cuss out your fellow parishioner to beat the traffic jam in the church parking lot; that’s not very Christianly now, is it?
Sadly, most of my brethren rarely touch the book that defines our faith; The Bible. In 2007 when my eldest son was undergoing religious education for his First Holy Communion, I needed to know what I was committing him to. The hubs was not raised in a church but, in agreeing to marry me via my beloved Mother, had to wed within the Catholic church. As we began our pre-Cana counseling my heart had pounded when the priest had asked the hubs if he believed in God. Those were the quietest sixty seconds in my life. Had he not answered yes, we would never have been married in the church. The caveat; he had to agree that our children would be raised Catholic.
Unfortunately in 2007 the church was reeling with the molestation allegations and so the hubs was hesitant about giving our son this faith. Amongst the heated arguments that year he had challenged me. What kind of a Catholic are you anyway? Have you ever read the Bible? You don’t regularly go to church! And so in the year of 2008, armed with a daily Bible reading plan, I read this book of my faith. Every. Day. I finished it by Christmas of that year. The hubs had been deployed for six months and I had remained home with three young boys. But during this year I had also been cajoled into joining a book club. I had rediscovered the joys of reading for pleasure. I had never made the time to read for years. I had been busy working, then birthing then raising young boys. Amidst my chaotic life I finally made the time.
Epic as The Bible is; it is not an easy read. It wouldn’t be the book I’d have chosen to read for pleasure. But in taking on this project I was able to find the thing that allowed me to reach my goal.
Discipline. : 2. a way of behaving that shows a willingness to obey rules or orders. 4. training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character. 5b. orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior. Definitions from merriam-webster.com.
As I drove to pick up my younger sons from school; a car cut-me off and I began to gesture. But then I stopped myself. I realized what I needed to give up this Lenten season. The raging, raving lunatic behind-the-wheel needs to get a grip. If I can refrain from gestures, angry mutterings or horn honking I am practicing mental discernment and discipline. If I want to grow in my faith I better start acting like it. When the boys entered my vehicle I asked the boys if they knew what I would be giving up for Lent. The tweener immediately replied, “Coffee!” but it was the youngest that surprised me. “Bad words?”
I am that transparent to my sons. Shocked I turned to the boys. “You need to keep me accountable,” I tell them. Darn. How’d they known!?
“That means not making hand signals or yelling or calling people names Mom,” the middle son stated. “Otherwise, you lose five minutes of computer or phone time!”
I had to laugh at his statement. Our boys lose computer time when they behave inappropriately. They are holding their Mom to the same standard. While waiting for our fish tacos the youngest held my hand in moral support; playing with my bracelet.
Driving back to work, boys-in-tow, I hissed at a truck on the freeway to which my sons immediately held me accountable. Sadly, this behavior is ingrained and natural. I am in for a very long forty days. But at least, I’ll have some coffee in me for fortitude. I need to make the time to be a better driving citizen, a woman of faith and Mother.
Be a good disciple.