Lenten Recap — The Home Stretch

I did not mention this before but I also chose a third sacrifice for Lent (in addition to keeping my space clean and blogging). I gave up buying alcohol during Lent and decided that I would put $8 in the Catholic Relief Services Lenten Rice Bowl each time I went out with my friends and would have bought a drink. I made an exclusion allowing myself to drink wine (my logic was you can purchase an entire bottle of wine for a home get together for a lot less than what you’d pay for a drink at a bar or restaurant).

For the first time in my life I have Jewish friends and I have to admit I didn’t tell them I gave up buying drinks until a week ago. Up until then I just politely declined ordering drinks when we went out. But a few days before, I found out another friend gave up sweets for Lent and even though she wasn’t there on the night of my revelation, knowing I had someone with similar beliefs gave me courage.

My friends all know I am Catholic. They know I’ve taught religious education at church which I think implies a certain level of faith. But I try not to impose religion on them. In that respect I probably err on the side of not sharing things I could instead of coming on too strong, but I also feel like a good example is the best evangelizing you can do. Like my friend’s comment that she gave up sweets for Lent giving me courage. She has no idea this had an impact on me.

My friends were actually very intrigued by this sacrifice and asked questions. One of them pointed out that I drank at the Matchbox 20 concert two weeks ago.

This was an interesting situation. We bought club seats for this concert before I decided on what I was doing for Lent. This package included dinner and an open bar. I was torn as to if it was ok for me to drink there or not. I consulted with some devout Catholic friends and we decided that it was probably ok to make an exception since the spirit of the sacrifice was to donate the money I would have spent. I was still a little unsure because I prefer not to partake in what I give up on Sundays and feast days and here I was considering it because it was inconvenient. I’m still not sure if it was right or wrong but I also feel like your sacrifice should cause you a little grief. If you give up something that doesn’t challenge you then you’re not really out in the desert with Jesus being tested.

I was in a situation last night where I had to choose again. It was a charity event with an open bar. I was very tempted to give in because my friends were all having drinks. I started out with a ginger ale. The next time I walked over with them, one of them who probably didn’t remember what I gave up asked if I was getting something because she had a five and felt better about using it for the tip if we were getting more drinks. With each step I weighed the options. I wasn’t going to be spending any money. It didn’t feel right, but I still wanted one. When we approached the bar, I noticed they had wine, which I chose. I still would have liked to have a cocktail, but in the end I felt like I passed the test. 

I haven’t counted how much there is in the rice bowl yet but I’m guessing there’ll be at least $40. This is my first time actually making a sacrifice for the Rice Bowl. Usually I just write a check for $20 dollars when it’s time to turn it in. It’s quite powerful knowing that a frivolous thing I gave up is going to impact people around the world who are very much in need.

Looking back I also appreciate the opportunity to discuss my dilemma with my Catholic friends. Lent is my favorite church season. I feel like we are all united with the project of sticking to our sacrifices and this was the perfect example. We are really all here to help each other earn our eternal reward in Heaven.

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