Ok I'm going to wax religious for a bit, so if that's not your cup of tea feel free to skip on to the next post. Don't worry though, I'm not going to beat you over the head with a bible or any other such silliness. I might make you think a little bit, though, so if that's not your cup of tea either, feel free to move along at your leisure.
While I don't fashion myself an overly religious person, I am a cradle-Catholic, went to Catholic elementary school, and even taught for two years in Parochial schools. Most of the time if anybody asks I tell them I'm a "spiritual agnostic"-- I think there's a higher power of some sort, but I truly believe that any attempt by Man to discern the nature of that higher power is very nearly futile.
So with that semi-contradictory nature in place, I do try to observe the spirit of many Catholic rituals. To be honest, I don't feel the need to go to Mass every week. I feel much closer to God closing my eyes on a sunny day and feeling the warmth of nature pushing through my eyelids or feeling my body respond after a good long run, than I do sitting in a dark building full of people reciting a bunch of words they probably don't even understand. What I do try to honor is the spirit of the faith--helping humanity and improving myself as a person.
So anyway, today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. Growing up I was always told that I had to eat fish on Fridays and had to give something up. As to why...yeah never really got a clear cut answer beyond "it's a sacrifice". This morning I had something of an epiphany. I was always told to give up sodas or chocolate. I realized that if I just gave something up like that, it wouldn't help me. All it would do is serve to make me miserable and grouchy for six weeks. God can't possibly want me to be a crab to my family like that. Why not use this time not so much as a Catholic thing, but use the time to continue my path to becoming a better person. I chose to "give something up" that will be very difficult for me, but in the end will actually make me a _better_ person, not a _worse_ person, than I was before. I'm choosing to give up stress for Lent. It will definitely be a challenge for me, and I will be giving something up that is detrimental to my mental and physical health. And in the end, I'll be a better person. Sounds like that's more following the spirit of the season than giving up Hershey's.
Oh...and I hate fish. Luckily I really like cheese pizza.
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