If New Year’s resolutions seem to be withering, fear not, Lent has come to pass. I always had deemed Lent the strike-two event for resolutioners, the non-Catholics bandwagon jump for those who postponed January 1stÂ goals.
The pre-Easter preparation is a traditional Catholic ritual held 40 days prior to Holy Week, a time set to give up pleasures as a form of penance. While some Catholics celebrate in the traditional manner of marking their foreheads with ash to commence the fasting season, others allow Sunday the day of the week to forgo the forgoing.
Jesus withstood demonic temptation in the form of food and power in a mockingly-hotter-than-Texas climate, but withholding one hour of the convenience of a cell phone is unfathomable in 2013.
Last year, Twitter ironically used its online platform to survey its users’ chosen Lent sacrifices. The analysis, published on the Christianity Today blog, looked at a series of 300,000 tweets to predict this year’s restraints.
Topping the list with a word count of 13,937 was “Twitter” itself, closely followed by “Chocolate”. The ranking words ranged from “McDonald’s”(1,249), “Makeup”(539) and 2,000 Twitter-ers who vowed to give up “Giving up on things.”
The choosing of what habit to cut out seems to be as difficult, if not even more, than the actual abstinence. Because this is an addiction, the inability to see our own dependencies, or simply the refusal to relinquish “it.” Lent demands community support and accountability, because self-denial is not natural in our mortal makeup.
While 453 tweets from the investigation declared users’ 40-day declaration to refrain from “Laziness,” participating in Lent itself is a time of spiritual exercise. Lent offerings should be chosen by personal conviction, a fasting that hurts. Lent’s request to starve some tendencies is a way of making room for bettering beyond what New Year’s resolutions offer.
Tomorrow, Valentine’s couples will dine on naked strawberries. For the next 40 days, the caffeine-reliant will appear unresponsive. Facebook status “likes” and Twitter retweets will reach an all-time, virtual low. The profanity-prone will swear off the swearing. TV times will reflect Amish values. And Easter chocolate bunnies will never be more appreciated. Lent provides the chance to clean house with spiritual reflection, and I am the first to confess, there are quite a few cobwebs in my own.