Being a Catholic, every year I’m hit with this thing called Lent. This is the Christian season of preparation before Easter. The Lenten season is a time when many Christians observe a period of fasting, repentance, moderation, self-denial, and spiritual discipline (Of course they would pick all the things I’m not good at). The purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ—his life, suffering and sacrifice, death, burial, and resurrection. This specific period of time is good, because it gets my mind off of women and that Facebook thingy.
During the six weeks of self-examination and reflection, Christians who observe Lent typically make a commitment to fast, or to give something up—a habit (such as smoking, booze, watching TV, swearing), or a food or drink (such as sweets, chocolate or coffee). In other words, all the good stuff. Life is already hard enough as it is, filled with suffering; now, during lent, Christian’s feel as though they have to add to that suffering.
This year, I gave up all sweets, desserts, and sodas (which I tend to do every year). I’d like to admit that it’s because I’m a good Catholic Christian, but I know, down deep, it’s partly because my belly looks fatter this time of year, which is a result of all the eating of goodies over the holidays. So, in all honesty, Lent is partly an excuse to diet, but this time I have God as my personal trainer for forty days so I don’t cheat—which tends to happen all too often on the previous attempts. Christians should change the rules. I mean, for Christmas, I celebrated the birth of Christ by eating pies and cookies, shouldn’t I be able to celebrate the resurrection the same way? They’re both big events.
I know I should try and give up something more challenging, but sweets and sodas are right at that “I think I can do this” mark. If I picked something like “No pizza,” I’d put myself in the “You don’t have a shot in hell” category. Then, instead of feeling good about my triumphing fast over the Lent period, I would spend it feeling guilty with tomato sauce on my face. Plus, I hate squirming and backpedaling to the priest during confession. “Forgive me father for I have sinned, I vowed to give up pizza for Lent and, somehow, well, I ended up eating pizza last night. But, wait, I got to thinking… isn’t pizza good for you? It has tomatoes… and that’s a vegetable. God says we should treat our body like His holy temple… and vegetables are good for you so, in a way, didn’t I do something good?”
Forty days of giving something up really should not be that big of a deal—especially when it’s usually something you should be giving up anyway for your whole life, i.e., smoking, drinking, or eating processed foods that make you fat. You should rejoice in the fact that you’ve taken a little break, prolonging the cancer or diabetes diagnosis. But, it hasn’t been easy, every night, after dinner I hear this soft squeaky voice coming from the junk food cabinet. When I go to check it out, I see a Kit Kat chocolate bar lying on the shelf, smiling at me.
“Hey sweetie, how was your dinner?” it says.