Mary Claire O'Donnell | Monday, February 20, 2012
Happy Mardi Gras! Tomorrow Lent begins, and we all know what that means — we have to give something up. Oh, and Easter arrives in about eight weeks. Your Lenten promise has to be the perfect mix of God-fearing Catholicism and temperance. This can often be a tough balance to strike, but it is achievable. And so here are some tips for devising your Lenten promise as you enjoy the fondue in the dining hall today.
To begin, here are two basic tenets of any good Lenten promise:
1. One-up your friends
Life’s a competition, and nothing says Christian spirit like making your love for Jesus into one. It’s all well and good to give up chocolate for Lent, but everyone does that. Give up chocolate and run two miles everyday. Your friend is only going on Facebook once a week? Have someone change your password for the entirety of the Lenten season. And remember, in order to best one-up your friends, don’t announce your promise until your friends have already told you theirs.
2. Make sure everyone knows
What else are social networks for but to publicize your inner-most thoughts to the world. This Lenten season, use Twitter or Facebook unless you gave them up to let the world know your promise and also your progress on keeping that promise. Maybe even think about making yourself a Lenten Twitter, like @fastingforjesus. Sample tweets for someone giving up candy can include, “Walked past the candy wall today without even looking at the Swedish fish #winningLent #20days,” or “Bit into a Kit Kat bar, spit it out but still feel guilty #sinner #grottotripnow.”
And here are some other things to possibly consider when making your Lenten promise:
3. Don’t give up something you need
If you have a serious caffeine addiction and you cannot function without a morning and afternoon cup of coffee/tea/Diet Coke, don’t give that up. For one, you will just be cranky and annoy all your friends. And two, your schoolwork will suffer, and neither you, nor Jesus, nor your parents would want that. Lent is for giving up superfluous things in life, not essentials. Try trading the Triple Grande Nonfat Upside Down Caramel Macchiato Extra Hot for just a regular coffee. Your wallet will also thank you.
4. Give yourself Sundays
Lent commemorates Jesus fasting for 40 days in the desert, but Lent itself is 47 days long. No one expects you to be better than Jesus, so take a free pass on Sundays to even out the numbers. But in all seriousness, sometimes you have a really bad week or a stressful night and that bar of chocolate or 20 minutes on Facebook is exactly what you need to decompress. Catholic guilt can be overpowering, but don’t let it get to you too much. Notre Dame can already be a high stress situation. Don’t allow Lent to make it any more stressful the season is about taking time to reflect on your life, not make things monumentally harder.
5. If you don’t want to give something up, do something
Sometimes it is really hard to figure out what you want to give up for Lent. So don’t give up anything. Devote an hour or two a week to helping out at a local community organization or through a group on campus. There are tons of organizations that are always looking for volunteers. You’ll put your Catholicism into action and help better the South Bend community. And who knows, you might like it so much you’ll continue doing it after Lent.
Contact Mary Claire O’Donnell at firstname.lastname@example.org