What are you willing to sacrifice?
Lent has officially started once again. It is a time when many people, and not just Catholics, traditionally give up something for the next 40 days in an effort to put a new shine on their Earthly selves.
It seems every year it becomes harder to decide what we can give up while still being able to maintain our place in the workforce, at school or even as human beings engaging with our friends and families.
Can we give up the modern communication system? I don’t know many people who have any desire to give up the internet, even for 24 hours. If they were in a work environment, they would need to call in sick for about eight weeks if they decided they wanted to stop using the internet. People’s productivity would surely stop if they couldn’t use the net and that might affect their gainful employment and ability to pay their mortage or rent.
Students wouldn’t be able to complete their research to write their essays without the net. They would have to visit the library. Time would pass by and they may have to hand in their essays late. Not a good situation. Maybe people could resist emailing and texting for 40 days. They could go off social media, or could they? It will be a lonely 40 days for these folk. They could only hope one of their real friends would pick up the phone if they knew how to access their number to call them to talk. They might hope one of their virtual friends on their Facebook Page actually knew them well enough also to grab a phone and call them to invite them to dinner or just to say “Hi.” But if people gave up using the cell phone or iPhone for their 40 days, would they be able to find a land-line phone anywhere to make that call to connect? How about a vow of silence? A family in Guelph was reported to have given up modern technology in 2013 and lived their lives as though it were 1986 for just under a year in an effort to help their family improve their personal communications. The children actually would be able to make eye contact when they were speaking with their parents because they wouldn’t be hypnotized into communicating with their iPods and tablets during every waking moment instead. But they found it challenging to say the least since many modern habits are formed around modern technology.
Should people try to give up chocolate, the old standby? Maybe go on a diet for 40 days.
It would be even better if they were successful and could make a lasting change in their lives to improve their eating habits for more than 40 days. And a 40-day crash diet might just lead to the old 20 pounds off, 30 pounds on scenario if they rebound after coming off the diet at the end of Lent.
Ask anyone who has to make a New Year’s resolution any year and more often than not people will say they are not making a resolution because they know they will break it.
Similarly, how many people also know they can’t do without for 40 days, and be hungry - what is that? And they like chocolate, a lot. So they won’t be giving that up.
Most people are accustomed to eating regular meals so they are highly functioning in the workplace or at school so they won’t be skipping any entrees or fasting.
And when it all comes down to it we should probably ask ourselves what we hope to gain by giving up something, anything for a short while. Alexandria-Cornwall Catholic Diocese Chancellor Kimberly Walsh says people should be focusing on an spiritual “makeover” or renewal for Lent, and one that doesn’t ends when the 40 days are over. She recommends people “look beyond” themselves.
And Pope Francis says people shouldn’t give up anything if it’s only to benefit themselves. A superficial temporary shift is a bit of a sham. He recommends people stop their indifference to others’ needs and take up charitable deeds during the Lenten period.
That sounds like sound advice if it could benefit the greater good in the long term.
Sure, keep the chocolate handy, and keep the computer running -- but look up long enough to see who is standing there beside you.
Forty days of caring could dab away 40 tears in no time, and make everyone’s life worth living.