Saturday, it’s the final day of the Lenten season and time to wrap up “the blog”. Blue Bloods, a most favoured Friday night television drama of mine, has a moment each week when the family gathers at the Sunday dinner table, after Mass, during which they have many and varied conversations. Last night the conversation focused on Lent. Questions were posed by the newest family member who has married in, not a Catholic, and unaware of the tradition of Lent.
I can’t confirm the accuracy of a point that was made in the drama, but the conversation began with the newest member’s question as to whether or not a person could simply pretend to give up some thing that they didn’t really care about to begin with, game the system, so to speak and of course, not really sacrifice anything at all. The family were taken aback by her suggestion, which leads to the focus point I want to pause on in a moment.
The family reacted strongly because the newest member also asked them to reveal what they had “sacrificed” for Lent. They were shocked…sacrifice was meant to be a secret, very personal and internal before God. The idea being that it; as Frank, my favourite character said; “it isn’t a true sacrifice if you tell everybody, if you tell everybody that’s just grandstanding”.
I think you know where this is going, at least in part. I couldn’t help but think about our public revelations, mine included, about what we/I were giving up; sacrificing for Lent. Now, I have no idea if this is a protestant tendency or if in fact one is to keep private their sacrifice for Lent but it gave me a bit of a chuckle and a bit of a pause, in that order.
I have seen our/my sharing as a form of accountability, personal openness and an allowance for opportunities to share with one another, those of the faith and those who are not; thereby potentially strengthening each others faith journey and experience.
For a variety of reasons, I have watched a particular video, also mentioned in Blog #4, by Dr. Jesse Middendorf and Rev. Stephanie Dyrness Lobdell a few times this Lenten season. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XC5ImHzSzcY Rev. Lobdell shared extensively about the 40 days of Lent and the biblical constancy where 40 days has great significance in several arenas. Her references identified that the goal and purpose in all of these biblical instances was to come out different on the other side through a process of self examination and prayer.
Back to Blue Bloods. The youngest member of the family, an emerging young adult, indicated that 5 years of catechism had embedded in his knowledge that Lent was a time to “deny our bodies some luxury or pleasure for the greater glory of God”.
Perhaps these fragments of thought all combine as truisms that are applicable to the purpose for which we, as Christ’s followers, engage in this process during Lent. Keeping secret or revealing to others should both intend to make us different “on the other side”.
Here’s another truism that is applicable; “You don’t get what you wish for, you get what you work for”. So, let’s agree, our Lenten intent is to glorify God. Coming to terms then, even in small doses, with our tendencies toward glorification of self, or towards holding life comforts closer than we ought, should, through the act of moving beyond ‘wishing’ to an active form of renewal and reflection during Lent likely result in accomplishing the very purpose for which we began the work of “giving up” or “sacrificing” some thing of some sort, 40 days ago. May it be so.