A brief Lenten reflection

Per the usual, I have opted to abstain from alcohol for the duration of Lent (Sundays included; I rarely drink on Sundays anyway, though, perhaps, I ought, in moderation, to do so in celebration). Fr. Kyle at the Catholic Student Center offered an insightful homily on Ash Wednesday in which he said something that struck a chord, so to speak, with me and annual abstinence from the same guilty pleasure.

Many of us, I suspect, habitually deny ourselves the same pleasure each Lent, doing so because it’s what we’ve come to do, rather than because we have considered why we do so. Chocolate — or sweets more generally — remains, it seems, a popular choice. But what goes does this habitual self-denial?

Unless matched with both a sincere desire to grow through this denial and concomitant dedication to increased prayer, it does not a damn bit of good. So, I began thinking, “Has my Lenten teetotaling any merit if I’ve shown on multiple occasions that I can manage quite easily without alcohol in my life, or is just a sort of scam, more, perhaps, against me than against God?”

I here must retract in part my assertion that “it does not a damn bit of good”. That we make such small sacrifices for God, even if habitually, rather than truly consciously, itself does good: We willingly deprive ourselves of something, even as insignificant as Guinness (Not that I don’t believe a good pint to be truly holy!), to show dedication and thanks to God, who, as Christ Incarnate, died on the Cross for our sins.

But there must be more to it! What that is, though, I would not fain attempt to determine. I had written a meandering paragraph about my own rationalization of why I continue to abstain from the booze, but realized that that’s irrelevant. It’s my personal matter, and how I can defend it as something more than habitual, which I can do, perhaps applies only to me, and to no one else. So I close not with a defense of my own choice, or a criticism of any other’s, but, instead, simply a nod of encouragement: Consider not in what Lenten abstention you partake, but why you do so and how it serves to draw you nearer to God in this season of contemplation and penance. And remember that this alone is not how we most fully celebrate Lent; pray, hear Mass more frequently, and do acts of good!

Actually, I close not with that, but with a humble request: Have a good pint waiting for me after Easter!


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