I don’t attend mass anymore – for a variety of reasons – yet I remain aware of the cycle of major religious holidays (though, in a society that privileges Christianity and those who practice it, it is hard to not be aware of these holidays). And currently, it is still Lent, which reminds me of my favorite priests’ homily about Lent – that it represents a time for increased recognition of self and cleaning associated with improvement one finds necessary.
Though I’m no longer a practicing Roman Catholic, I am still fond of the Lenten season. It was as early as the end of high school or the beginning of college when I changed how I “did” Lent: instead of giving up something for only 40 days, I would take up something new. The exception to this is when I tried to give up something that I wanted to change for a time beyond the 40 days, such as when I gave up swearing. I still swear, but not as much or without thought or intent as I had before giving it up for Lent back in 2000. I prefer to practice my patience, communicate more frequently with friends, or something else that would enrich my days and years to come. It seems to be truer to the Lenten season to do something meaningful and lasting rather than short-term fasting.