Back when I was a kid in a Catholic elementary school, I remembered what a big deal Lent was. Actually a lot of things were a big deal - your First Communion, the reconciliation you had to do before you had your First Communion, celebrating All Saints Day. And then there was Lent, where you had to make some sort of sacrifice for 40 days. That can be tough for a 7-year-old.
It's also tough for a 40-year-old.
The last couple of weeks of Lent have passed by, and for some reason, I still find it tough to find something without meat to eat on Fridays. I'm not a fish fan, with the exception of shrimp, so that's out. So usually my lunches and dinners will involve some kind of cheese - macaroni and cheese, cheese pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches or a cheese omelet. Yes my picky eating habits can get in the way of things. One time I had french fries and ice cream for lunch.
I will dutifully adhere to the no meat on Fridays rule, but it's tough to give up fun or junk food for Lent. Habits can be really hard to break, especially if it involves guzzling Mt. Dew or noshing on chocolate. Maybe when I was younger it wasn't difficult.
But I vaguely remember giving up anything for Lent back then either. My St. Anne's classmates and I probably said, "oh, I'm gonna give up candy for Lent," or "I'm not going to eat mashed potatoes for Lent."
Maybe I should do something easy like "I'm not going to watch any horror movies for Lent" (not a fan) or "I'm not going to play any video games" (that won't be too tough seeing that I never really excelled at anything past the Atari 2600).
But coming back to the no meat thing on Fridays. I can't help it, I like having meat once in a while. And I'll admit that I have broken that rule more than once during my lifetime - when barbecue pork sandwiches were brought in at work (I can't resist BBQ pork) or a moment of weakness on an Ash Wednesday. I remember a nun back at St. Anne's - Sister Anne Marguerite - who once told a story of when she must have totally forgot it was a Friday during Lent and she mentioned she had the most delicious hamburger to someone. I think that other person must have been shocked, but Sister Anne Marguerite just chalked it up to an oversight. So I guess if a nun can consume meat without being struck down, it's OK. (yeah, I know I won't be necessarily struck down, it's just the ol' Catholic guilt.)
So while I don't give up anything for Lent, it's something I still observe.
It's also a time to reflect and continue to do good things (in my case, contributing to the Rice Bowl campaign at church). And who can't resist jelly beans on Easter Day?