Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Forty Things I Love About Lent

Catholics love Lent.  This is our big season.  Easter is way more important than Christmas, Jesus-wise.  Sure, the whole virgin birth thing was pretty impressive, but everyone knows that the Resurrection is Christianity's big hook.  For one thing, it lends itself to better choreography.

 For another, the run-up is way better. The Season of Advent has candles and those little cardboard calendars filled with cheap chocolate. But the Season of Lent is 40 days of self-sacrifice, discipline, and spiritual contemplation. Not convinced of the awesomeness? Read on.

40 Awesome Things About Lent 
  1. Smudged forehead on Ash Wednesday tells the world, "I get dirty for Jesus!"
  2. Giving up something fattening is like going on a Pope-approved diet.
  3. Annual viewing of Jesus Christ Superstar (see awesome video clip above).
  4. Ditto for Easter Parade.
  5. Fish sticks for everyone!
  6. Moodiness, surliness, bad hair days, etc. can be explained away with one word: "Fasting."
  7. Opportunity to coordinate wardrobe with hip new rosary styles.
  8. Good news:  Mel Gibson rants notwithstanding, Catholics don't blame Jews for the Crucifixion.
  9. Sundays don't count!
  10. If you give up candy for 40 days, the sugar buzz on Easter Sunday is a religious experience.
  11. Stephen Colbert, America's most kick-ass Catholic, is suffering right along with me.
  12. Palm Sunday reading of the Passion (if your priest plays a good Jesus; otherwise, eh.)
  13. Palm origami!
  14. Good time to get Confession out of the way for another year (for those of us who don't go every month/week/day/12 hours).
  15. One of the only times of the year when the priest breaks out the censer!
  16. Cadbury Creme Egg season!
  17. Jelly bean season!
  18. Peeps season!
  19. Those Russell Stover creme-filled eggs (but not maple walnut, because I always got stuck with those and nobody ever wanted to trade their cherry or chocolate fudge for them) season!
  20. Lilies become cheap and plentiful (I love lilies).
  21. You don't have to buy Easter gifts for anyone else, but you get to shop for a new outfit.
  22. Actually, you should buy two outfits, because the weather is really unpredictable this time of year.
  23. Great way to get your kid to stop doing that annoying thing you hate for 40 days.
  24. Chance to debate the historical and theological accuracy of The Life of Brian.
  25. God listens to prayers more closely during Lent (really, he does).
  26. Better-quality wine at Mass (oh, they'll deny it, but it's true).
  27. The choir tries harder to sound good.
  28. White shoes start appearing in stores.
  29. "I gave it up for Lent" is all-purpose humorous answer to co-workers' requests for assistance.
  30. Meatless Fridays provide valid excuse to turn down cookout invitations from annoying neighbors/relatives.
  31. Spring allergies more tolerable when seen as part of Lenten suffering.
  32. Bratty little kids haven't yet learned they don't have to be good for the Easter Bunny the way they do for Santa Claus.
  33. The smell of vinegar during egg-dyeing.  (Best. Smell. Ever.)
  34. If you can't stick with your Lenten promise, you don't actually go to Hell (no matter what your grandma or Sunday School teacher told you).
  35. Baby bunnies! (Look, but don't adopt.)
  36. Fresh votives for the prayer candles. 
  37. Thinking about the agony of the Crucifixion puts that fresh door ding into perspective, doesn't it?
  38. For 40 days the Church keeps its nose out of politics and concentrates on actual religion.
  39. If your birthday falls during Lent, you are extra-special.  When it falls on Easter Sunday, you don't have to cook dinner.
  40. Let's face it, the extra prayers can't hurt.

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