I greatly admire those bloggers who give up blogging for Lent, but as for me I will continue blogging as a penance for others. I will try to provide you with plenty of punance during this punitential season.
Here is some Lent trivia I posted in previous years.
The capybara kap-i-‘bar-uh, hydrochoerus hydrochaeris, is a semi-aquatic rodent of South and Central America. It is the only species in its genus, which belongs to the family Hydrochoeridae, order Rodentia.
When the Spanish missionaries found the capybara in Brazil during the 16th century, they wrote to the Pope to ask – there’s an animal here that’s scaly but also hairy, spends most of its time in the water but occasionally comes on land; can we classify it as a fish (and thus, the indigenous people could continue to eat it during Lent)?. Not having a clear description of the animal (and not wanting the petitioners to starve), the Pope agreed and declared it to be a fish.
The pretzel has a deep spiritual meaning for Lent. In fact, it was the ancient Christian Lenten bread as far back as the fourth century. In the old Roman Empire, the faithful kept a very strict fast all through Lent: no milk, no butter, no cheese, no eggs, no cream and no meat. They made small breads of water, flour and salt, to remind themselves that Lent was a time of prayer. They shaped these breads in the form of crossed arms for in those days they crossed their arms over the breast while praying. Therefore they called the breads “little arms” (bracellae). From this Latin word, the Germanic people later coined the term “pretzel.”
The Teutonic word Lent, which we employ to denote the forty days’ fast preceding Easter, originally meant no more than the spring season. Still it has been used from the Anglo-Saxon period to translate the more significant Latin term quadragesima (Fr. car�me, It. quaresima, Span. cuaresma), meaning the “forty days”, or more literally the “fortieth day”. This in turn imitated the Greek name for Lent, tessarakoste (fortieth), a word formed on the analogy of Pentecost (pentekoste), which last was in use for the Jewish festival before New Testament times.
Carnival means "farewell to meat.”
It was thought that misfortune would come to those who married during lent – “Marry in Lent, live to repent” – because lent was a time for abstinence.
Jimmy Akin has a good roundup of Lenten information.
I have also changed one of my top graphics to this.
Now as for Lenten practices this year I have decided to give up giving up things for Lent. Well actually I have thought of some really good modern practices to give up that could be quite penitential.
- Switching from broadband to dial-up
- Turning off your popup-blocker
- Turning off your spam filter
- Not fast-forwarding through commercials on programs you have recorded on a DVR.
- Watching CNN
Though I am not spiritually advanced enough for these severe penances. But I am only half joking about turning of the spam filter. It use to be that when I woke up in the morning and found a lot of comment spam on my blog I would get pretty upset and even at times unleashed an expletive or two more appropriate for when I was a sailor. I contemplated what circle of Hell spammers deserved and devised appropriate tortures in my head. Knowing that this was a fault I started directing prayers towards the spammers instead as I deleted their offerings. Now I don’t look forward to this deletion ritual, but at least now there is no anger involved. Amazing what prayer and grace can do. If St. Terese can pray for a murderer maybe even a spammer is worth some effort on our parts.
Being that Lent in English means spring I think that is quite appropriate. Instead of spring cleaning we are engaged in Lenten cleaning. Everyday you have to clean up your house, but during spring cleaning extra effort is made to clean deeper and to throw out all the junk that has accumulated. Exactly what we should also do in Lent. To look at those faults that need some extra attention and scrubbing and to work on tossing out those distractions that have accumulated and to give them the heave ho. It is great to toss out this junk, but it is not just to make room for the addition of even more junk. The negation of Lent is to really make more room for Christ.
Spiritual reading is always a great disinfectant for Lent cleaning. Happy Catholic and The Anchoress both have reading lists of what they will be turing their attention to. One of the things I love about the Catholic faith is the inexhaustibility of the spiritual reading available. Even if you could read every book, so many deserve repeated readings. I read a lot of the classics during my entry into the faith. Though much of it was like a first grader reading college level material. So I am looking forward to re-reading some of those same books again.
One will be To Know Christ Jesus by Frank Sheed. I remember Frank Sheed once saying in effect that to be a good apologist you need to get soaked in the Gospels. Whether you are an apologist or not this is great advice and what all Christians should aspire to. He obviously took his own advice because this book is soaked with the Gospel and the spiritual insights in it are not just dry apology, but deep spiritual reading.
Another book is Thomas A. Kempis’ On the Passion of Christ: According to the Four Evangelists : Prayers and Meditations. Yes he wasn’t just a one hit wonder with the Imitation of Christ.
Fr. Dubay’s Fire Within: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel-On Prayer. I remember first seeing a series by Fr. Dubay some years ago on EWTN where he talked about these two great saints. His descriptions of contemplation and that it was not just something for those in religious life really sparked an interest in me. Coming from the desert of atheism the idea of knowing and loving God more is obviously desirous. I really thank Fr. Dubay for introducing me to the these two great Carmelite doctors and for prompting me to read their works. I especially love St. Teresa of Avila for both her wit and ability to explain deeply spiritual ideas in easier to understand language. Maybe one day Carmelite spirituality might actually start rubbing off on me (I can hope), though maybe I need to read "Contemplation for Dummies" first. I would like to change the name of this blog to the Contemplative Jester, but Curt is still way to accurate.
So I wish you all success in your Lenten cleaning and your making more room for Jesus!