Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lenten Practices

As this Lent season is coming to an end, I thought I would write a little about it. Lent is the 40days prior to Easter, starting with Ash Wednesday and going through till Good Friday or Easter (it's been a while since I went through RCIA). Anyways, historically, Lent was a time in which people were forbidden from eating in abundance and basically told by the Catholic Church to forgo all pleasurable things that could contribute to committing one of the seven deadly sins. Hard work, plain meals and lots of time spent contemplating God comes to mind. And we are talking about even the monarcvhs and their families around the time of Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain.

Yet all this has been changing throught out time to become what we now consider Lent.

Nowdays, most Catholics practice Lent through giving up something in their lives. For some, they make it about their health. Others make it something to help their financial situation (like giving up shopping for anything beyond food etc.). Yet, they don't replace this with anything that is supposed to bring them closer to God in their daily walk (which is what Lent is supposed to be about). We are supposed to enter the Lenten season with a mindset following Jesus. The 40 days are based off his 40 days in the desert, during which He faced many trials but ultimately relied on God to see him through the difficult situations of the devil tempting him. We are supposed to be doing this ourselves. Instead of doing whatever activity we would normally be doing, we are supposed to be spending the time in prayer. If you gaveup shopping - spend the time you would have spent shopping in prayer and Bible study, etc.

I'm ok with the fact that most people doing spend that time in prayer. Or at least most of the Catholics I have spoken to about this topic don't do that. What bothers me is when people create the worst advertisements with Lent in mind. It would be the equivalent of having Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem say "Tired of being overweight? Give up your extraweight for Lent!!" in an ad trying to sell their products to people.

Even that would be better than the ad I found today. I was actually very upset about seeing this ad, because even though I don't identify myself as a Catholic (even when I went through RCIA and attended Catholic mass I always found myself siding with a Judaic/Protestant idea that doesn't seem to really exist), I found it offensive to the ideals of Lent. The ad was for an online Catholic Dating service called Catholic Match. I have no problem with online dating services. I think they are a great idea! Especially for those who tend to be shy, or are really looking for someone that shares the same religious background they do as a priority before finding out anything else about them. I think even the non-religious ones can be helpful in finding a person who truly shares the same ideals and values. It's basically using a matchmaker or having an arranged marriage (which typically happens in countries with lower divorce rates). The ad in question stated the following "Single? Give it up for Lent. - Catholic Match".

Maybe its just me, but i found this to be extremely offensive to the Catholic community, and it was done by a group trying to help unite Catholics in both dating and marriage. To quote my friend Katie, "I'm just sayin'"

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