Let’s face it folks. There is a very real possibility that this posts exists as a rather flimsy excuse to post this wonderfully ironic Baton Rouge, La., photograph sent by a witty priest to Rod “friend of this blog” Dreher.
Now Lent is almost over, so it’s now or never.
Actually, this photo does symbolize a question — a journalistic question, actually — that I’ve been thinking about quite a bit during Great Lent this year: Do mainstream journalists realize that there is more to Lent than food?
I mean, the U.S. Catholic bishops have in recent years put quite a bit of effort into a public campaign to promote — following ages and ages of tradition — the importance of believers going to Confession during the season of Lent. I kind of expected that this the “light is still on” effort might get more press attention this time around, especially after the media-storm called Pope Francis did a daring thing the other day by choosing to go to Confession in clear view of the world.
So take a look at a Google News search for “Catholics,” “Lent,” “Confession” and “light on.”
Not much, right?
So we’re back to food.
In recent years, that has been some interesting coverage of fast-food places (apparently Hooters among them) making an attempt to beef up the supposedly Lent-friendly part of their menus, which seems to mean lots of fish. Some of the results have been rather mixed, spiritually speaking, or that has been my personal experience. Let me tell you that it’s hard to eat your popcorn shrimp in a fast-food joint that is dedicated to fried chicken.
All in all, it’s the fish-on-Fridays image that gets the ink, since very few journalists seem to realize that there are some people out there whose Lenten disciples are even more rigorous than the decision not to eat meat on Fridays.
When things are done pretty well, the result looks like the top of this rather nice Mississippi Press feature:
PASCAGOULA, Mississippi – If you are in the mood for seafood on a Friday over the next couple of weeks, you will probably have to stand in line at just about anywhere in town that has seafood on the menu.
Bozo’s Seafood on Ingalls Avenue in Pascagoula is no exception. The long line wrapped around the check-out counter is proof that it’s Lent season.
“It’s controlled chaos,” said Keith Delcambri, owner of Bozo’s Seafood. “From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Oh my God, it’s crazy, standing room only.”
Lent is a period of 40 days from Ash Wednesday, the day after Mardi Gras, to Easter. These days are symbolic in Christian faith because they represent the 40 days before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
“Jesus went out into the desert and fasted for 40 days before he began his great journey to Calvary,” said Rev. Michael Kelleher of Sacred Heart Catholic Church. “It’s because of what he did, that we fast for 40 days and have our own desert experience.”
Rev. Kelleher said many years ago that the church spelled out what an appropriate fast would be, which was to abstain from meat, “the blood of animals, flesh meat.” As an alternative, fish was allowed. Catholics set aside every Friday during Lent to recognize this teaching.
Actually, Associated Press style says that this would be “the Rev. Michael Kelleher,” but nevermind.
So did I miss something this year? Did anyone out there in GetReligion reader-land see some mainstream-media Lenten coverage that dug deeper than a fish fry?