Does This Sackcloth Make Me Look Fat…

… Happy Ash Wednesday.

Er. Have a great penitential Lent, maybe? Happy suffering, y’all.

I got my ashes.

What? Can you prove I didn’t?

I believe the ash under bangs phenomenon is referred to as the “Unsolved Mystery”.

So do you have it all planned out yet, or are you like me, typically still scrambling for last minute Lenten ideas? Give up all the things!

Actually, for the first time in several years I have a clear idea of what I am going to do and what I realistically expect from myself this season.

It all started with a most excellent homily.

The good padre asks us to consider what it is that distracts us most. What consumes most of our energies; energies that could better be served in prayer, adoration, mass attendance, or works of service?

My son decided to give up Minecraft. That’s how compelling this particular homily was. It encouraged an eleven year old boy to give up Minecraft. An eleven year old boy giving up Minecraft for forty six days. If you’re a parent of a young son you can appreciate what a stunning sacrifice this is. He might as well of announced to me he was going to chop off his arm.

So my measly efforts to forgo soda for Lent pales in comparison. No, that won’t do. If I sat down to seriously consider what is my current biggest distraction and time suck the answer is obvious. Facebook.

I know, I know. Giving up Facebook seems silly and so first world. Isn’t there some broken glass somewhere I can be crawling across? Where can I find a sackcloth in my size? Is it a sin if I put seasoning on my ashes instead of just choking them down with tepid tap water. No, tepid rain water. Rain water collected in a dirty bucket.

Asking for seconds?! You’re not trying hard enough.

I’m a filthy sinner. Even worse, a lazy filthy sinner. I know what I can and cannot do. I also know what happens to me spiritually when I set my expectations too high and then inevitably fail. It’s not pretty.

Therefore, I subscribe to Simcha Fisher’s tips for avoiding Rookie Mistakes. Facebook it is. Think of all the wonderful posts and columns I can get written in time to finally meet my deadlines. Oh, the productivity!

Posts glorifying God, of course. Uplifting and enlightening things to inspire and… yeah, who I am kidding. You know I am gonna rant about this girl. But in a holy way. A critically constructive and completely holy way.

Anyway… remember that Lent is long. Oh so long. So very very long. So keep it simple, because if you expect to suddenly transform your life and be canonized a saint in the next 40 days you’re doing it wrong.

That’s not Lent, that’s delusion.

Forty plus days is a very long time to expect perfect spiritual exercise. You’re gonna mess up. And that’s OK. In fact, that’s super OK and kind of the point. Messing up is our humble little reminder that we can’t save ourselves or make ourselves holier through our own efforts. We need God. And prayer and fasting. And the graces that come from prayer and fasting.

So get to it. Happy suffering, y’all.

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