40 Days of Badassery

So, now comes the time when everyone tells you, “Lent isn’t just about giving things up, it’s about taking things on. Think about what you can do, not what you can remove from your life.” Which is all fine and dandy, to be sure, but also stupid. Mortification is important. Mortification is what’s necessary. I want a bumper sticker that says “Put the pain back in Lent!” or “Self-denial is the reason for the season!” Just because it would shake things up. The world can understand us ‘getting more into’ our religion – they may even encourage us, give us a cookie. But what stands in contradiction to the world – and especially to the American world – is the Christian not eating. The Christian not drinking, not because drinking is bad, but because it is good. The Christian in pain.

What will convince the world, and – infinitely more importantly – what will convince us of the validity of our faith and all the truth she professes is not comfort, not the statement that “this will make me happy”, but the witness of those being happy when they have nothing but their faith. The rich, old, country club preacher saying grace is not much to rally around. But what hope there is in finding out that there is tremendous grace after a day without eating! What affirmation it is to learn that no, we do not believe because we are comfortable, we believe because it is true! To have the grace to praise God in our suffering!

Plus it’s badass. There’s just no other way to put it. What else can you call a Church that specifically sets aside 40 days for it’s followers to make their own lives difficult? It’s as if the government mandated that, for the month of May, alarm clocks were to be replaced with getting punched in the face, for the sole purpose that it would make you stronger, and appreciate alarm clocks more. The Church looks at her children and does not say ‘how cute’ – she says ‘shape up’. “Oh you’re rich, happy and full? Well for no other reason than that it will make you stronger, be poor, in pain and hungry.” Aaaaaw snap. Where there is no pain, the Church requires it. Run that one over to the humanists, see what they think.

Now I have to run to work, many apologies for the lack of coherence in posting. Don’t think that I do not advocate the ‘taking on of things’ for Lent; I do, only after we get rid of those things holding us back. My Lenten “add-on”? I will post on BadCatholic every day of Lent. Hold me to it.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14343608055572066429 Clamburger

    I, personally and respectfully, believe that fasting for forty days -be it meat, or something personal to you like chocolate or soda– only gets the silver metal. It seems discounted, to me, because Catholics give up things that they still have right beside them. It's a very controlled sacrifice… very controlled by the people who are making the sacrifice. I think that a stronger witness is when we retain our joy/happiness/piety/contentedness/what-have-you when we are simply needy. When a financially poor Catholic goes a few days on end without a meal and still shows up to Mass with a washed face, still evangelizes the joy and peace that the Resurrection and the Holy Spirit bring, I think that's a stronger witness than intentionally giving up _________ for forty days. Just my thoughts. I won't be surprised if BadCatholic declines to keep this comment alive. I kind of feel bad for writing it. I do respect the thought that BadCatholic put into his post. But I often think about the different effects practices have on me as well as other Christians and heathen when said practices matter or if they don't matter; if they're intentional or circumstantial.

  • http://expeditionheaven.wordpress.com/ expeditionheaven

    I agree with Clamburger, and I want more than just the silver medal. I'm finding with my job, DRE/YM, I've got a busier Lent than I've ever had before. Between stations, soup suppers, classes I'm teaching, et cetera, I've got a lot going on. But it's not enough.I normally wouldn't be doing all those things if it weren't for my job. So I'm adding additional religious reading and prayer time to add onto my Lent and also ensuring I don't burn out.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14233077230513330747 TheHungryCatholic

    Marc is not advocating giving up chocolate or milkshakes or some weak crap like that. He is talking about real giving up, a sacrifice which will cause you pain, a sacrifice that will doubt your ability to continue, a sacrifice that you really would normally react to like a punch in the face. A "very controlled" sacrifice doesn't deserve a medal at all, and if that is your only experience with self-denial and fasting, then I am sorry. That's just weak, and we are talking about badassery here, the same badassery demonstrated by Jesus when he went into the desert and didn't eat anything for 40 days (and then rubbed that in Satan's face).You are right that it is a stronger witness to retain our faith and happiness when we are needy rather than an empty gesture of "giving up". The point is that many of us, particularly in the US, are not truly needy as many in the world are. We are in need of being needy. Which is again, why during this season we enter into a time of denying ourselves. The poor Catholic who lives out her faith is indeed a stronger witness than I am; my desire is to make my own faith stronger by imitating her- first and foremost by giving up many of the things that make me comfortable. All in all, Clamburger, I don't think that you understand how giving something up can help your spiritual life, and for a long time I didn't either. That is, until I gave up something hard. Trust me, when you are feeling a hunger pain every day for 40 days, with food right in front of you but your will and God's grace pushing you to continue offering that sacrifice, you will understand. You will understand how that practice of exercising your will against your desires can pour out into all aspects of your life, how it can help you be more chaste, more charitable, more Christ-like. You will be able to better understand how a poor person, a hungry person, can be happier and more faithful than you and me. Be a badass this Lent (humbly, and in secret of course) and you will be rewarded.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13250374019486548341 Isaac

    One thing to add: Give up stuff that's hard, AND take on stuff that's hard. But if you're like me and there's not really any BIG stuff in your life to give up, give up a LOT of little things. It adds up fast. Add a lot of little things, too.Don't go to Adoration? Go every day. Daily mass? Go. Don't pray the rosary? Do it every day. Enjoy a good hot shower? Make it cold. That cup of coffee in the morning? Lose it. Snacks? Nope. Video games? Out the door. Divine Mercy chaplet? Do it. Liturgy of the hours? Do it. The opportunities for sacrifice AND getting a better prayer life are quite literally ENDLESS.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12679230722483582032 Marc

    @ ClamburgerWhat is this, Communist China? Of course I'm not going to delete your comment! But I think TheHungryCatholic said it all – if, like you said, the needy Catholic is the really impressive one – a statement I agree with – then we should make ourselves needy. Lent is about self-denial, not a real busy day full of Catholic events, not a lot of rosaries – though you should definitely do those – but about dying to yourself.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03746345772552260010 samanthapollmann

    This rocks. I would most definitely buy that bumper sticker. Props on the song choice as well. To God be the glory! Mortification FTW

  • Mswift5

    i honestly want your autograph….and a picture.

    • Marc Barnes

      come to steubie!

  • http://twitter.com/lovellspice w1nL0v3

    i am enjoying your blog immensely! i am a bad catholic too!