Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Is It a Sin to Eat Steamed Sparrowgrass?

There's a joke John does every year, on the first Wednesday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox, or whatever the arcane calculation is. When I get home from Ash Wednesday Mass, he tells me there's a smudge on my forehead, and makes to wipe it off for me. First it was funny; then it got annoying. Now it's a tradition. This year he was already in bed by the time I got home from Mass, so it's perhaps just as well that he got the joke in Tuesday afternoon, over the phone in anticisayitpation.

I got to serve at Mass tonight, carrying the cross in for a change. I used to do that more often than not, but then a nice man named Alex was trained as crucifer. Since that's the task he knows the best, he gets to do it if he's there, and I'm a "torch" (candle bearer) instead. But tonight I was scheduled to do it. Hooray!

In fact I ended up doing three tasks as an acolyte. It's become standard procedure now for the crucifer to torch during the Eucharistic Prayer whenever we're shorthanded, which seems to be almost always. And Father Smith asked me to take the second chalice tonight and serve communion with him on one side of the aisle. I'd only done it once before, served all of two people and messed up one of them. But tonight it was more like forty or fifty people. One person spilled, but that was the only disaster. It wasn't my fault, that one, honest!

Still, when the time comes for a proper Lenten observance, especially a Lenten fast, I'm anything but a paragon. Just thinking about fasting makes my digestive system start torturing me, until I have to eat something just to get rid of the pain. Sometimes I manage to hold it in check with Mylanta and crackers or something of the sort (which is still cheating), but this year I didn't even really try. Well, I sort of tried, but failed utterly. See, my company fed us breakfast (which included sausage or bacon), and later fed us lunch if we presented a ticket, all as part of the Chicken Something. It seemed silly to turn down free chicken, potato salad and a brownie, so I didn't.

But aside from a 100-calorie pack of Sun Chips, I held off eating again until after church. My plan was to go for two filet from McDonald's. I was kind of counting on it. But there was construction surrounding my local McDonald's, and I didn't want to drive over the metal whatever-it-was blocking the driveway. So I "settled" for shrimp at Popeye's. Their new butterfly shrimp is hardly bigger than their popcorn shrimp, and half dough. It wasn't bad, but I'd have preferred the rectangles of processed fish on a bun across the street.

And I was still hungry. I managed to leave Popeye's without buying a little fried apple pie, but at home I gave in and ate something else. John and I recently discovered steam-in bags of vegetables, so I had a bag of asparagus. Was that a sin? So far, this doesn't look to be the Lent in which I get my eating under control. Then again, it's only just started.

That's not really what Lent is for anyway. Doing something good is as valid a response as giving something up, perhaps better, and it's supposed to be something you do for God, not your waistline. And if I'd actually done anything good, I wouldn't be bragging about it. Jesus and Father Smith both talked about doing the fasting and good works in secret. Seeing as how I failed to do it, though, I figure it's fair game to talk about it.

May your Lent be secretly successful, as we prepare for an early Easter.




Paul said...

Many years ago I gave up something for lent that resulted in me not having to give up anything for lent ever again...

Becky said...

Interesting! I thought ash wednesday was just a Catholic thing. I used to get the weirdest looks in elementary school.

Florinda said...

I couldn't make it through the fasting either. I don't have much trouble with the abstaining from meat (other than having to remind my family about it), but the fasting is tough.

I give up buying books for Lent. I do it every year, and some years it sticks better than others.