Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Repent and believe!

Lent starts tomorrow. In all the upheaval of the past ... has it just been a few weeks? ... somehow, I just realized this. In my years as a baptized Catholic, I have never been in India on Ash Wednesday ("Raakh Budhvar" as the bulletin put it, in Hindi, last Sunday, sounds so ... I don't know, weird!). Or during Lent, for that matter.

Somehow Lent starting now is strangely comforting. I look forward to trying to quiet down, to read Scripture more regularly, and intentionally focus on my relationship with Christ.

A former student wrote asking some advice about "what to give up for Lent" this year. (He was contemplating soda, i.e. soft-drinks). Here's part of what I wrote back.
The whole thing about fasting is that one is fasting from what is good and what is pleasurable.

So, it sounds like giving up soda again would be helpful.

One thought would be, and I'm dead serious, any time that you're tempted to drink a soda, pause, and say a Glory Be or a Hail Mary.

Some other ideas (in addition to giving up soda. I always suggest that giving something up is a good thing): read some Scripture daily. Pray in a more disciplined way. Feed the homeless guys you bump into around 5 points. Take a Rice Bowl from church. Try and get to Mass during the week if you can. Forgive those who've hurt you, and try and reconcile with them. That last part, I think, is probably more difficult than all the soda in the world!
At the Ignatius press blog, there's a neat article on self-denial. And do also check out Amy's almsgiving post.

Interestingly, just as Lent starts (on Thursday), I'll be off for a quick trip to Amritsar, to visit the Harminder Sahib, the holiest shrine of Sikhism. And to pay my respects at the site of the Jallianwallahbagh massacre. And, to see Pakistan. I.e. from the Indian side of the border at Wagah.

[An aside on almsgiving: last summer, when I was in Pune arranging to have our condo leased out, at one point I asked the agent if there were a local equivalent of Goodwill or Salvation Army, where perhaps some of the old furniture could be donated. 'I don't know,' he said. 'But I'll ask my boss. He's Catholic. They know about such things.' A few weeks ago, I suggested to mom that we donate dad's clothes to the local Goodwill. Apparently, there is no such thing. This is not to say that non-Christian Indians don't practice charity. But the kind of organized charitable giving tends to be, it seems, a Christian-run thing here. Once we're back in Baroda, I'll make a note to contact the parish to find out how to distribute his clothes.]

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