Friday, February 27, 2009

Sacrificial Meat

It's Lent - that time of year that Catholics everywhere flock to the fish fry and many other people try to think of that one thing to give up for the next six weeks that would be difficult enough to make them remember the importance of Lent and what it's leading up to (that being the Resurrection of Christ, not Easter morning and chocolate bunnies).

I had the chance to talk to my mom about Lent while she was visiting and I came to the conclusion that I just don't get it. Don't get me wrong... I understand the time of preparation for Easter, but I don't understand the correlation between not eating meat on Fridays and Christ on the cross. I also don't understand why so many people draw the relationship between eating healthier (giving up caffeine, alcohol, fast food, etc) and the sacrifice of Lent. It seems that the goal of sacrifices like that is to lose weight, not to turn the focus to Christ. And that is the point, right... to focus on Christ for the time leading up to his resurrection. Right?

So that makes me think - should the time of Lent be spent making sacrifices for others like Christ sacrificed himself for us? Should we be spending our free time volunteering to babysit our friends' kids for free or writing encouraging letters to our friends and family or paying the toll for the car behind us in line? Wouldn't that make us realize the cost of sacrifice more because we're sacrificing for others? Or similarly, what about giving up the time you spend online or watching TV? I almost hate typing that because I don't want to think about those options... but maybe that's because they are so sacrificial to my current way of life.

In addition to that, shouldn't we be turning our focus towards Christ in a relational way? Making the commitment to read the Bible everyday or pray more fully or serve at church? I think there's a time and place for dieting, but I don't believe that Lent is that time.

I had stopped going to my Catholic church when I went to college and joined Bellefield, which I wrongly believed got me 'out of' Lent. If I wasn't Catholic anymore then I don't have to sacrifice, right? Wrong. I'm thinking this year of how I can use Lent to impact others and turn my focus where it belongs - to Christ and the sacrifice He made for me (and ALL of us!)

Just something to think about. What are you giving up (or adding extra) for Lent? What would you like to do but you're just not sure you can pull off? Wouldn't the world be a better place if we all had the strength to sacrifice for others even a fraction of how Christ sacrificed for us?


Kevin Rose said...

I have become a Catholic apologist in my old age. I feel that while the Catholics are following the letter of the law they have lost the spirit of it. While not an expert of the Catholic Catechism I belive that no meat on Fridays should be viewed as not a time to eat shrimp but a time for fasting and reflection on Christ's sacrifice. I also beleive that lenten sacrifices should be that, sacrifices. Also a reminder of Christ's passion. Been thinking of you Charlie and the boys. Love you.

Kevin Rose said...

Most modern Catholics, that is.

suzannah said...

not being catholic, i wouldn't really know, but i was under the impression that not eating meat on fridays was a holdover from WWII rationing...but i could be totally wrong...

i think there is something to be said for true fasting. when we feel those hunger pains (or less so, the lure of the chocolate or beef we give up), the idea is to turn our hearts to the far greater sufferings of Christ (and perhaps give the money we would have spent on that food to someone in need.)

i find it hard to remove health and fitness goals and calorie counting from the practice of honest-to-goodness fasting, so i've avoided it pretty much...but i don't think that's the answer either, because scipture talks much of the practice of fasting.

i think you're right to question our motives and the impact of the fast--if it isn't growing my faith or intimacy with God, or serving God or others, a lenten fast may be just a glorified new year's resolution, cloaked in spirituality!

great post, beth:)

Janice said...

Interesting post....I was never Catholic, but I did go to a Catholic school all throughout gradeschool, so I never really thought about it. I like the idea of sacrificing for others to help remember the reason for Lent. I was just studying the book of James and thinking about how Faith without deeds is dead. So true. I guess Lent would be a good time to to really think about that and spring into action to impact His kingdom....

Becky said...

Your post made me think (I don't know if this is true), but when fasting for Lent started, it was probably a huge sacrifice. Now, we are so "fat" as a culture, that it is perversely pleasant thing to do in hopes of losing weight.

I wish our church did more to celebrate the liturgical calendar. We don't even light advent calendars. So, I do think something gets lost.

What I feel is missing most is the COMMUNAL aspects of liturgical holidays and activities. I don't feel like I'm missing something personally. I just wish we recognized these days more as a community.

Maybe that's why they invented fish fry's?!