Weekend Assignment #257: Giving it up!

I’m “guest-professoring” from Outpost Mâvarin again with an appropriate topic for the first weekend of Lent:

Weekend Assignment #257: Have you ever given up anything for Lent – and if you have, what was it? Did you make it stick for the whole forty days? (In deference to those of you who have never observed Lent at all, let’s expand this to giving up anything for religious, ethical or health reasons – cigarettes, for example.)

Extra Credit: Have you ever given up eating meat, either as a fast observance or as an ongoing change?

I’ve mentioned a number of times here that I’m not a regular churchgoer any more. However, I find that while you can take the girl out of the Catholic Church, it’s tougher to take the Catholic Church out of the girl. I still believe in penance and atonement for my wrongs, and I think that some self-denial can be good for body and soul. When Ash Wednesday arrives, I still observe the practice of not eating meat on Fridays for the six weeks till Easter. It’s less of a sacrifice now than it was during my pre-Weight Watchers years; I’ve actually developed a taste for veggie burgers, for one thing. However, sometimes it’s more of a challenge now than it was during my single years, since it means I’m usually eating something different from the rest of my family.

My bigger Lenten sacrifice doesn’t do all that much for my body, and I’m not entirely sure what it does for my soul, but it does help my wallet. For at least the last ten years – and I can’t recall exactly when it started – I have given up bookstores for Lent. I am not allowed to buy books for myself or order them on Amazon.com. I can buy books as gifts for other people, but sometimes the temptation in the environment is just too much. The fact that my birthday almost always falls during Lent – an event for which I often receive bookstore gift cards – really makes it tough to hold the line until Easter sometimes, and since most of the stores are actually closed on Easter Sunday, I still have to wait to release that pent-up demand.

There have been years when I’ve bent the rules; my mom taught me about the little loophole that means Sundays are not actually part of the forty days of Lent. (If you don’t believe me, sit down with a calendar and count them out.) Therefore, you may partake of whatever you’ve given up on Sundays. I think that’s bogus, really, but I’ve done it. In addition, you might think that with more than 150 books in TBR Purgatory as it is, I should have no problem forgoing new acquisitions for a couple of months. You would be wrong. This year, I do have one loophole that I may use, aside from the Sunday one, if it comes up – review book offers. Technically, those are more like gifts, since I don’t request them or spend my own money to get them. Meanwhile, I can keep up the book-linking in my Saturday Review posts so I’ll have a nice selection of new-book possibilities after Easter!

I really should think about giving up Internet use for one day a week – that would be some major self-denial. Not this year, though. I’d have to prepare myself for that one, and in any case, a Lenten sacrifice has to take effect on the first day of the season, so I’ve missed the deadline. However, the seed is now planted for next year…

Have you given up anything for Lent this year – or for any other reason? How’s it going so far?

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7 comments

  1. Ouch! Books! Definitely a sacrifice, although I’ve been trying to avoid buying any while unemployed, which has already lasted much longer than Lent!

    At least one priest at St. Michael’s has mentioned the Sunday loophole before, so it’s “legal.” Thanks for the great topic!

  2. Karen – I’m glad to have it from a more official source that the Sunday loophole is valid, but I’m REALLY going to try not to exercise it this year.

    And yes, it definitely is a sacrifice :-)…

  3. you are purer in soul and commitment than I could be.

    what is it about the internet that is so hard to give up? why do I lust for internet cafes when I travel?

  4. My birthday is during Lent too, I’ve often cheated on that day. Including this year! 🙂 I’ve been told about the Sunday off rule too, sounds good to me, but I try not to use it.

  5. Beth K – I’m thinking about the Internet fast, but I really would need to prepare myself for it. I did it during our vacation last year, but we were visiting places that had no access – somehow, that’s easier than voluntarily going off-line.

    Mike – Birthdays during Lent definitely should be a loophole day. Mine has fallen on Good Friday a couple of times, and observing fasting and abstinence on your birthday sucks :-).

  6. Wendy (Literary Feline) – You have an even bigger TBR collection than I do, so one would think it wouldn’t be that hard to give up bookstores for six weeks – and yet, it really is!

    I’m glad to see you back! Somehow, my posts don’t feel complete until I see your comments :-).