Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Give it Up for Lent OR My Religious Rant

Facebook, soda, sugar, bad words, yelling, etc., etc.  So many things I've heard this week about what people are going to "give up" for Lent.

My oldest son and I have had a few (short) conversations on the subject.  His take is that there is no point.  He calls it all Malarky (yep, he's making good, clean fun of our Vice President, Joe Biden, with that one).  My take is that you have to take it with a grain of salt.  To me, the point of giving up something for Lent is about a reminder of what Jesus gave up for us - his life.  It stands to reason, doesn't it, that we should be able to sacrifice a bit.  Temporarily, of course.

I know I'm going to catch some hell (you're welcome) for this one, but Religion is a business.  It is a business, my friends.  And any organization as large as Christianity, for example, must have set rules, leaders, boundaries, a mission statement... all of these things in order to keep it (hopefully) running smoothly.  In this case, the book of rules is, apparently, the Bible.  This is good.  Except that every religion sort of "picks and chooses" which parts of the Bible they should follow, listen to, take seriously.

I, for one, don't believe that no one of the Jewish faith can go to heaven because they haven't accepted Jesus as their Lord.  Come on, now, people! Jesus was a Jew!  He went to heaven!  Heck, he's seated at the Father's right hand, is he not?  So, God in all His infinite wisdom is not going to say, "Hmmm... you're Jewish?  Out ya go!"

I have a very strong faith. I really do. And I don't feel that my faith needs to be constrained by rules that some very old, uninformed men place upon me.  Heck, these same men are the ones who still insist on calling all its followers "Men."  Ummm, I'm no English major (oh, wait, YES I AM!) and maybe these guys didn't get the memo, but "Men" means MALE.  As in... pees standing up.  "Men" does NOT encompass all people.  "People" encompasses all people.  "Men and Women" would also be acceptable.

But I digress.

This never really bothered me until I had my daughter.  As parents, we sort of say "mess with me all you want, but if you even so much as lift an eyebrow at my kid..."  So, as I stood next to my mom in church all those years, I was mortified each time she'd speak the word "She" loudly, as the congregation was saying "He." And replacing (out loud, mind you) the word "men" with "people."  Why does it matter, I thought?  It never really bothered me.  Except that now, in church, I refuse to say "men" - not because I don't like them.  I do.  I mean, I really do (ask my friends).  More than that, I happen to be raising two of them, who, in my humble opinion are pretty kick a*#.  But I don't want my daughter to feel left out.  I don't want her to think she's not every bit as important or worthy.

Remember last year when the Catholic Church changed some of the congregational responses during mass?  Instead of saying "And Also With You," as we all did for our entire lives up until that point, suddenly, when the Priest says, "May the Lord Be With You," we are to respond, "And with your spirit."  Really?  How many man (yes, that was intentional) hours do you think it took, how much budget, to get that line changed?  There were a few others, too.  Did they not think it was high time to finally change some of the wording to encompass ALL congregants?  No?  Well, why not?  I have a little girl who is going to grow up hearing "for us men..." Do they think she won't catch it? Forgive me, but she's smarter than that.  And if this religion can give pardons to priests just for listening to confessions during Lent (oh, yes they do) then what, pray tell, is the point? And please don't get me started on the whole business of confessing your sins to the man behind the curtain.

But I digress.  Again.  Deep down, I believe in the traditions passed down by those who came before me.  I think it's a good idea to remind myself of the sacrifice, the love that is my God. So, this year I'm going to quit those four letter words that seem to flow so smoothly from my mouth.  And maybe, after four weeks, it will become habit not to say them. I'll also avoid meat on Fridays. I realize not everyone does it, but it's such a small thing to do. And it serves to remind me of the season.

Fellow Catholics: What do you give up? And do you follow the practice of avoiding meat on Fridays? And for anyone of another religion, how do you feel about the business side of your faith? 


  1. Religion is a business alright. It's a BIG business.

    Lynn, you are right. Things don't seem quite so repugnant or wrong until we have a son (and all of a sudden the possibility of our son becoming a soldier looms over our heads) or mumbling "men/man" is fine until we have a daughter.

    So, you're saying WWWP nights are going to be tamer? More sedate? More prim and proper?

    1. Sioux - Linda is right... you are sippin' the suds! Umm... I'm Beth. But it's nice of you to say Lynn is right - ha! Wait 'till she sees this ; )
      Tame, sedate, prim and proper... what are these words?

    2. Crapola! (she said with her face beet-red)

  2. Sioux's sipping the suds, Beth. Your post sums it up well and I completely agree that religion is mighty big business. Your mom and I lived through the ERA. As for Lent, I will be more mindful of others, but I won't give up anything. Shoot, I'll probably give IN.

    1. She certainly is! As long as you're giving in to good things, I'm with you!

  3. A-woman. (Get it? Sorry. That was lame.) But I still agree. Especially to suds sipping. You haven't given that up, have you? Happy Valentine's Day, Beth!!

    1. Ok I have to admit, i feel a little slow with that one! And NO - not giving that up - ha! Hope your Valentina's was happy. Looking forward to having you back for our next WWWP night!

  4. Just like a new year, Lent is more about reflection for me. During these next 40 days, I will look at my life and determine how I can be more open, honest and trustworthy of a person. I think about how many times I did something that I knew was wrong, fully aware that my actions, if caught, would cause others to be disappointed in me, as well as angry. Thoughts that come to my mind are “am I sneaking around and violating what I have always said were my core morals and values?“, “am I setting a good example for my children?” and “do my lies affect my children?”. If you look back on your life, you will discover that your children’s actions are a direct reflection of you. I mean, seriously, if you are lying, why can’t they? Sometimes this can be very unnerving to realize.

    No person is perfect, but trying to be better internally each year is a good start and using these 40 days is a great beginning.

    1. Mary Beth -
      Thanks for the thought-proving comment. Reflection is a good way to look at these 40 days. Really, it would be great if we could always hold onto this mentality, but that can be tough to do, can't it? And certainly, children will always learn more from what they see than what they hear. That said, beating yourself up for faults isn't ideal either. We are human, we make mistakes, and so will our kids. Learning from those mistakes is sometimes the best we can do. But I do like your idea of using these days as "a great beginning."

  5. I LOVE this article...except that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the MOTHER....okay, couldn't resist. But, I heartily agree with what you said. The Catholic church was ingrained in me as a child. As I grew up I wondered why it was "men" all of the time. Now, I know that leaves out half the population and I refuse to cater to that mentality. Yes...I do go to church every week (my mom's in my head telling me to!), but I absolutely refuse to say "man". I say "people" and "God" loud and clear. The term "men" is NOT an universal word for all of us. Now that I'm an old lady, the church says I don't have to fast. So...not only am I useless because I don't have a penis, I am also free from their regulations because I'm old....great! My faith is very strong, but the Catholic church is driving me crazy. When I respond in church it's still "and also with you" because I respect not only a person's spirit, but also their body as the human part of that spirit. After all, God made us in Her image, body and spirit. Thanks for letting me rant! I love you!

  6. Hi Beth,

    Lots of territory covered here, and much food for thought.

    I too cherish my Catholic faith and traditions, but like you, some things get under my skin.

    As far as Lent, I have given up soda and candy. It's not easy, but I'm trying. Oh, and no meat -- red or otherwise -- on Ash Wednesday or Fridays during Lent.

    But what I really want to focus on is being more considerate of others and not so judgmental. For me, that's the biggest challenge of all.

    In fact, it was a challenge the first day of Lent. On Ash Wednesday I attended morning Mass at my grandson's school. There were about 500 worshipers there--probably 300 school children and 200 adults mingled in among the classes.

    During the homily, our pastor gave a moving talk about opening our hearts to others during the Lenten season. After Mass, as you might imagine, several of the kids were talking and joking around as they filed out of the pews. Several adults, myself included, were visiting with friends. In the back of the church, not far from where our pastor stood, I chatted with a friend about our grandkids and our upcoming Bunco game, just as one of the teachers made an announcement from the front altar.

    When we paused our discussion and asked what the announcement was, our pastor told us the teacher had asked everyone to be quiet while exiting church.

    My first instinct was to blurt, "So, we're supposed to open our hearts, but when it comes to leaving church, close our mouths and don't engage in friendly conversation?"

    I didn't say that, of course, but that's what was in my heart. Here it was the first day of Lent and I had already lost my temper. I wondered why the focus was on the negative (give something up, don't talk in church) rather than the positive (try to be kinder, say hello to a friend).

    Sorry for the rant, but you struck a chord.
    Mea culpa! I'll go back to behaving myself now.

  7. Hi Donna... great to hear from you! Mea culpa is right! I think some are so caught up in the rules that they can't see the harm those rules sometime cause. It's like how some priests during mass will invite only approved catholics up for communion - meaning, don't come up if you're gay, divorced, etc. etc. Maybe the woman making the announcement was trying to get the kids to be respectful, but what is wrong with catching up with old friends, fellow members of the church, and other parents after church. Yes it is a place of worship, but if it's also God's house, wouldn't he want us all to feel happy, talk, share, love? Ay-yi-yi! I think Lent should be about doing more good, too, versus a focus on the negative. As for me, I am doing great with the "no soda" but my sailor's mouth is still struggling to come out - ha! It's a constant effort : ) Good luck behaving!!!