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.