“You’ve got something on your face. Let me get that for you.”

February 5, 2008

Today is Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday and Pancake Day all rolled up into one. Whatever you call it, Ash Wednesday is tomorrow and we begin (in the Western Church, anyway) 40 days of fasting, prayer and general introspection and preparation before the Holy Triduum (“three days”) of Easter. Liturgical trivia for non-Catholics: during Mass for the next 40 days, the word “Alleluia” will not be used at all. Neither will we sing the Gloria. Things will be nice and somber for awhile, all the greater to savor the end.

I get occasional questions from co-workers and friends every year about this time, usually asking me what I’m giving up for Lent. I make no particular secret of the fact that I’m Catholic, but anyone for whom the half-dozen kids aren’t clue enough will know for sure after I show up at the office tomorrow with an ashy smudge on my forehead. Here’s another bit of trivia: the ashes are made from burning last year’s Palm Sunday fronds.

A few times, I’ve surprised them by telling them that I’m not giving up anything at all. Instead, I’m adding X, Y or Z practices/reading/devotions to my daily routine. There are sometimes other things that remain known only to me, following the Lord’s instruction regarding prayer in secret.  I hope to firm up my decision tonight. It’s good to have stretch-goals, if I can suitably cop a bit of office-speak. We’re also going to discuss Lenten devotions as a family after dinner, when I expect I’ll have to crush my son’s suggestion that he give up school, doing the dishes and onions.

About the only good thing to come out of my borked trip to WI yesterday* was finally getting a chance to start Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follet. My father enjoyed it very much, and loaned it to me some time ago. Starts with a bang and just keeps rolling along. I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far.

* – other than the obvious, which is that I didn’t have travel overnight away from home and family.

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4 Responses to ““You’ve got something on your face. Let me get that for you.””

  1. PeregrinJoe Says:

    Does that mean I can’t give up work for Lent either? Aww man. You can’t blame the kid for trying huh?

    BTW, my copy of Brunelleschi’s Dome by Ross King arrived yesterday as per your suggestion. I am looking forward to reading it.

  2. fosco Says:

    Faux-abstentions are almost a Lenten ritual themselves. No one, as far as I know, has suggested that we give up Lent for Lent, but the day’s not over yet.

    Re: the book – nice, I hope you like it.

  3. v Says:

    I heard someone saying on the radio that Ash Wednesday is not a day of obligation. I find that hard to believe.

  4. fosco Says:

    It is true: Ash Wednesday is not a day of obligation. But the ashes are so cool, who really wants to miss out?


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