Tag Archives: Lent

New Lent, New Goals

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A blessed and holy Lenten season to however few readers I have left!

This year, I’ve not been keeping up on the Catholic blogosphere nearly as much as I have in the past. Nonetheless, I do still religiously read two blogs, and one of them linked to Simcha Fisher’s Lenten Guide. I’m really grateful for this guide because she covers Lent as categories as opposed to particular disciplines, and I actually set out to do that this year.

In past years, I’ve treated Lent as a discipline, where I pick one thing to either give up or focus on. That makes it easy and pithy to tell someone else what I’m doing (“Oh, I gave up chocolate this year”) but it doesn’t necessarily remind me of why I’m doing it (“why did I choose to give up chocolate in Italy??”). So this year, I’m treating Lent as the chance to make myself a better person. Instead of one key thing, I’m using a series of small goals to help shape me into — hopefully — a holier person.

Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I have this archetypical-eldest-child complex of wanting to save the world and everyone in it. (Or rule it, depending on the day.) I also really like to do everything all at once. The biggest issue I’ve run into with this compound-complex is that, often, I don’t take the time to take care of myself properly. I don’t sleep very much, which causes my performance to suffer, which in turn takes a toll on my motivation and self-confidence because frankly an inordinate amount of my self-image is wrapped up in the work I do. This makes me a negative influence on the people around me. So this year, I’m going to take care of myself so that I can better serve other people. Semi-decent bedtime, Vespers daily, and working on my ongoing personal projects are all included in my list of small Lenten goals. (Side note: because this blog is one of my ongoing projects, of sorts, it may find itself being updated more frequently in the future. I’m considering renewing my presence on the Catholic blog scene.)

And so begins Lent, with an Ink trying to develop the ever-elusive discipline of time-management. A delightful fruit of my failure (I found it on tumblr) is below, just in case anyone ever needs it.

AshGuide

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So it begins…

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A blessed Lenten season to you all, and my sincerest apologies for not posting more. I’m currently studying abroad in Italy and have been quite busy with architecture school here.

I’m giving up chocolate for Lent.

It’s the age-old cliché… chocolate is something everyone loves and it’s tasty and good and easy to remember to avoid. It seems trite. But frankly, it’s going to be harder than ever. The only food-vice I love more than chocolate is coffee, and I can’t give up coffee lest it become the most penitential Lent ever for the other 41 students here with me. At least chocolate doesn’t have withdrawal symptoms.

This is my third attempt at giving up chocolate. The first time I tried, I failed miserably. I was going through it with my sister (in an attempt to have some sense of solidarity) and we both caved around St. Patrick’s Day. That was rough. The second time, I was much better, and I think I only broke twice. However, about halfway through Lent I decided I subscribed to the “Sundays don’t count” mindset. This year, it’s day two and I’m already struggling.

Remember, I’m in Italy right now. We can buy Kinder here. And Ferrero everything. And truffles, and pastries with chocolate. Every kind of pastry with chocolate. Oh, and nutella. And, the icing on the cake? It’s the Old World. People expect to walk a lot. So I can literally walk down the street, go into Despar, and buy as much chocolate as my wallet has Euros. This has been very, very dangerous (molto molto pericolo) for both my wallet and my waistline. But how I love it…

Additionally, I am restricting my personal access to cappuccini to one, on Sundays only. This means that my favourite bar is closed so I won’t have to explain to them (in my pidgin Italian) that I don’t actually want chocolate in my cappuccino–since by now, they do it without asking. It means that if I need a kick during the day, I just order “un caffé” and I’ll have to develop a taste for straight espresso. (Sadly, while it’s stronger in flavour than drip coffee, it has only half the caffeine. I don’t know how these Italians do it.)

I may be in Italy, but I think it’s going to be a rough Lent. Or, rather, a purifying one. I hope. Every time I want chocolate I remind myself that it’s a vice, a small pleasure, and to deny myself it is a way of becoming closer to God. It’s little. It’s silly. But it’s really, really hard. Colour me cliché.

Lenten Update

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Today marks one full week of Lent.  I was really bad at the whole giving-up-swearing thing for the first couple of days, but after that it eventually became easier.  I’ve noticed an entire change in my speech patterns–a shift away from vulgarity, no matter how much I wanted to use it–and I think it’s for the better.  (Bear in mind, I have had a couple of extremely late nights as well as some random accidental injuries over the past week, so it really has been just as trying as the rest of the semestre so far.)

The biggest change for me, however, is the intellectual whiplash.  To go from a thought-process where rude words were practically punctuation in my sentences to eliminating them completely is definitively stretching my vocabulary.  I am enjoying adverbs and elaborate adjectival structures with a renewed passion… and a certain degree of twisted relish when I put together a particularly potent one.

The conclusion: Mothers are always right–in this case, “People who swear a lot just have a small vocabulary.  They can’t think of new words to express the same sentiment.”  Truth.  Thanks for that one, Mom.

Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return

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Today starts Lent.  I’m trying to give up swearing.  It’s going to be a long 40 days.  While I do know that Sundays are technically feast days and we don’t have to observe Lent on those days, my sailor’s vocabulary is definitely a vice of mine of which I would like to thoroughly rid myself.

By the way, has anyone else noticed how you can instantly tell the Ashes-and-Palms Catholics now?  They don’t know the new responses.  It got a lot quieter after that group discovered that they don’t know what to say.  Hopefully they are curious enough about the new translations that they come back!  At least, that’s how these things work, right?