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My Lenten Offering

February 28, 2007

Seeing as Lent has begun recently I’ve been reading all the posts about what people are giving up, planning on doing, etc and I thought I’d add my own feelings to the mix.

As a little background information I’ll let you know my religious history. I was born on a Monday and the very next Sunday I was at mass … and pretty much every subsequent Sunday until I was 19 years old. This was not of my own choosing mind you and I feel that my feelings towards Catholicism and religion in general are greatly influenced by that fact. Every Sunday I was forced to go to first catechism and then mass. I don’t know that I minded catechism so much … but mass was a pretty big pain in the ass for a kid. At least at catechism I was with my friends, during mass I had to sit with my parents and pretend to listen to what was going on. I amused myself by people watching and memorizing the priest’s “lines” as I called them. I can still recite those lines to this day.

I come from a very Catholic family on both sides. But my family didn’t pray together at meal or bedtime. And we didn’t normally read the Bible together either. Although my Mom did get on this kick where we did the Rosery every once on a while. Was kinda fun for my sister and I because we got to lay on the floor with candles lit and we each had parts that we had to read. I think it made my Mom feel better about having heathen children! In all seriousness, we weren’t bad kids, we just weren’t interested in church. I like reading the stories in the New Testament … but the Old Testament bores the hell out of me. Even when I was younger I had pretty much the same beliefs about the Bible … it is not the literal word of God. The Bible is indeed a book to live by (to the best of your ability) however the things it describes did not necessarily happen. The parables are there to teach us something which they do regardless of if you believe them to be true or not.

Anyway, back to the part about lent haha! I normally just say “I’m giving up chocolate for lent.” When I was a kid I actually had to do it because my parents paid attention to it but as I got older I said I was giving up chocolate but I’d always forget about it and eat it anyway. My Mom’s pretty good at it. She actually gives things up every year … this year it’s beer, bless her! The problem was I didn’t actually care why I was supposed to be giving something up, I just did it because my Mom told me to and we talked about it in church. I wasn’t giving up chocolate because I wanted to go without like Jesus did. I just did it because I was told to and everyone else was. And this is part of the reason I no longer go to mass.

I haven’t been to mass in a few years. Not because I have some big beef with the church. I just don’t believe that you have to attend weekly mass in order to be a good person. I know it’s not the best thing to be but I am sort of a buffet Catholic. I do believe in some parts of the religion but not others. For example: I don’t believe in confession. I think that if you are truly sorry for your sins and want forgiveness that it’s between you and God and he will know. A priest doesn’t need to tell you that you are forgiven. I believe that having a relationship with God is a very personal thing. You don’t have to go to church, say pre-written prayers, go to confession, or give up chocolate for lent. I believe in a God, be it a man or a woman or whatever name it chooses to go by, but I know there is something. And my relationship with this something doesn’t have to depend on me going to church or believing in every word of the Bible literally. I live my life to be the best person I can but I don’t abstain from things like premarital sex or covetting my neighbors goods … because God knows me and accepts me and all of my faults. I feel good about who I am and where I stand religiously. I say that I’m Catholic because that’s what I was raised but some people may disagree.

So did I give something up for lent this year? Yes. Not because I have some strong religious feeling about it, but because that’s what I have done every year since I was born so why break tradition now. Wondering if I gave up chocolate? No, as a matter of fact I didn’t. This year I gave up spending money on things that I don’t really need. This is going to be the hardest 40 days EVER!

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