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Giving Up Blogging and Reading Blogs for Lent

I have decided that for the Season of Lent that I will give up both blogging and reading blogs and bulletin boards (with one exception; see below). Both activities have become so much a part of my day that I need to reorient myself toward those things that are of eternal and lasting significance as well as to give something up that would really hurt. The only blog that I will read and contribute to is my Return to Rome blog. But if and when I write, it will just be on topics pertaining to my Christian faith and spirituality.

So, starting on Ash Wednesday, February 25, I will cease both blogging and reading blogs until Easter Monday, April 12. Consequently, I ask my friends and acquaintances to please not send me links to blogs or bulletin boards during the Season of Lent.

For the record, on Ash Wednesday I will also be dismantling my Facebook page, something I took back up after saying on Southern Appeal several months ago that I was through with it. (I caved to peer pressure on that one, if I may confess).

(cross-posted on Southern Appeal)

Comments (29)

Apparently for lent I will be giving up reading Francis Beckwith posts as well at the other things I had already determined to fast.

Seriously, God bless you during your time of reorientation. I did something similar last year and it was very fruitful.

In Christ,
Jay

Something like this will be a good idea for a lot of us. While scaling back on blogs I mean to be reading N. T. Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God.

I see your point. After many discussions with people like this, I'm in danger of becoming this.

Well, fine then! Just when I find your blog you decide to go all holy on us and cut back on posting for Lent. I decided to cut back to three posts per week and now I feel like an utter and complete pagan compared to you. Arrrrgh!

Not to worry. I will be waiting for you with the bated breath of a true fan. God bless you!

I have done that (with varying levels of success) for the past couple Lents and it is generally a wise decision.

Sigh. Accept a friend request and then kill your FB page. I just can't win. :)

God bless you richly in this fast, Dr. Beckwith. I am planning my own kind of fast which I pray will reorient me in ways I need, too. I have never been (and am not now) in a church that takes Lent seriously, but Neuhaus's book _Death on a Friday Afternoon_ has inspired me to try to make it part of my journey. (Any prayers from anyone will be welcome; I have very little support around me.)

I shall miss your contributions here and elsewhere for the next few weeks, but will thus appreciate them all the more when you return.

Under the Mercy,

Beth

Did you mean that creating a Facebook profile in the first place was a cave-in to peer pressure?

My wife and I have been able to withstand the onslaught of the peer pressure to do that. They always say it's such an easy way to communicate. Because my cell phone and email aren't enough.

I have enough things I waste my time on, thanks!

Anyway, God bless you on your Lenten journey.

Well, I'll just say I wouldn't want to put any impediment in the way of someone's conscious dealing with their own undersanding of the faith once delivered, [unless I thought it'd be of the essential doctrine type of impediment] but I guess I dont get "Lent". It seems to imply that you are continually doing something against conscience during non Lent times, or should I say that you are not redeeming the time faithfully. I'm sure I could look it up on some site, but would those who're taking this time seriously please comment in their own words "why"? [In all seriousness, I'm interested to know]

Speaking as a dyed-in-the-wool Protestant, Brad, I don't find this too difficult to sympathize with. Don't we all have things in our lives that fall into an in-between area? There are things we all do that aren't wrong in themselves but that we realize we maybe do too much of, like too much, get grouchy when we can't have, are too dependent on, like that. But it's very hard to quantify. It's not as though any particular bowl of ice cream has a big red X on it, even if one realizes in a general sense, "It's not wrong to eat ice cream, but I probably eat too much of it." So Lent is a sort of clearinghouse opportunity. Like spiritually cleaning your closets. (That is an cheap metaphor for me to use, because I _love_ getting rid of stuff. It would perhaps be more appropriate for a pack-rat type.) You take the chance to look at your life and say, "What could I be profitably doing less of, being less dependent on?" And then you can use Lent as a self-motivator to pick one of those things and do entirely without it for a while, as a form of healthy self-discipline in an area where you realize you need it.

To say, "Well, then, you must have definitely been doing something _wrong_ before," is, I think, too rigid a way of looking at human life and human psychology. We all have all sorts of things that we aren't doing _wrong_ but that shouldn't be such a big deal to us. C. S. Lewis says something to the effect that if one's charity is put at risk just because one doesn't get a particular type of food or drink at a particular time of day, then that is a sign of gluttony. (Oh, gosh. Coffee...) In Lewis's case it actually was tea, though this is told of him by others, not by himself. He would get extremely grouchy on a walking tour if they ended up in a town at tea-time and couldn't find a place to have tea. So he knew whereof he spoke. Yet that doesn't mean he was doing something wrong by drinking tea. Still, it probably would have done him good to give up tea for Lent.

And now that I've said all of this I can go back to being a lazy Protestant and not having to live by it. But it makes plenty of sense.

So then, is the net end result to be *less* of whatever from now on? Is it to develope a habit? I could see this as making sense, but to give up something for a set time to only be going back to it after seems to be symboic of nothing of value.

I think it might well be. Perhaps one hopes and plans to have a more moderate and disciplined approach to the thing later by way of giving it up altogether for a time.

Well, I'll just say I wouldn't want to put any impediment in the way of someone's conscious dealing with their own undersanding of the faith once delivered, [unless I thought it'd be of the essential doctrine type of impediment] but I guess I dont get "Lent".

Me too.

It's like Jesus' 40 Days, 40 Nights spent in the Desert in both Fasting & Prayer was a complete waste of time, in my own personal opinion. Imagine what good He could've done during those wasted months if He simply got off his lazy ass instead and did something entirely more productive like healing the sick, making the blind see, or even spreading the Good Word for the Salvation of All?

Also, it's not like the early Christians, the Church Fathers or the Apostles themselves ever actually practiced such tradition. Heck, even St. Paul, as is even clear from His own Epistles, never did himself.

This then poses a problem for Francis, since his "vice" is a service to so many others such that in doing his consciencious observance, he's possibly depriving others in a sense. I wouldn't press this too far, it may be personal, but for such a public figure as FB, it may have unintended consequenses.

I haven't really come up with a theory of Lent or that it is some kind of Christian version of therapy or self-improvement. I simply regard it like everything else in the liturgical calender: a ritual following in Our Lord's footsteps. Lent is the 40 days in the desert. Since most of us can't swing that long without food and water, we pick lesser deprivations that are doable for us mere mortals.

I also don't have a theory of Lent, nor even a general theory of penance. But penance is not the avoidance of sin: sin is something we are supposed to avoid all year round, all the time anyway, as Brad says. Penance is something extra, usually something which is difficult for us personally but good for us to do: it is the taking on of good works or suffering above and beyond the "minimum daily requirement" as a way of, not really atoning for ourselves, but affirming our sorrow and repentance for our own sinfulness. Sin is a lower bound below which we must never go (though sometimes as fallen humans we do); but there is no upper bound to charity, no upper bound to what we owe to God. So there is always penance which can be done.

I am also a lifelong Protestant whose exposure to Lent has been pitiably weak. However, part of my very beginning understanding (and so I will welcome correction) is that in giving up something for Lent, one is creating an opportunity to -- when desiring that thing, going without it -- think on the far greater, ultimate sacrifice of the Lord that occurred on Good Friday, and on one's own nature which led to the need of that sacrifice, and thus to gratefulness for His doing what we could not. It is not, in my limited understanding, for giving up that which one *should* give up anyway, permanently. *That* shouldn't take Lent for us to do; that we should do as soon as we realize the need. I don't know that it even *should* be something one needs to change in some way during the rest of the year -- do less of, say; that seems to be simply a possible side benefit of the "fast" which can be beneficial. The real benefit of the fast is a renewed understanding of what has been done for us on the Cross, which we hope will stay with us in our busied lives, but which it is always healthy to find time to reflect on. This is, I believe, the reason for weekly fasts some sects hold to.

Many people spend more time on the web than they should, and I know of many who take a Lenten "fast" from certain aspects of internet use to help them back away from it. But others don't spend "too much" time necessarily -- but see that a time away from some aspects of it can give them opportunity for that reflection and renewal which is always valuable. Even Jesus went to pray on the mountaintop alone, not every minute being available to the disciples. Combine that concept with the 40 days in the wilderness which others have mentioned, and the encouragement some kind of fast can offer to reflect on the sacrifice and redemption we are going to celebrate at Good Friday and Easter . . .

My very, very shaky $.02, and I hope to hear from others who can correct and/or expand on this.

Scott W.

I simply regard it like everything else in the liturgical calender: a ritual following in Our Lord's footsteps. Lent is the 40 days in the desert. Since most of us can't swing that long without food and water, we pick lesser deprivations that are doable for us mere mortals.

Your statement here is generally sound.

In looking over the ancient practice, I believe your latter statement is why it has come down the way it has for us in the form it now presently assumes (although the Apostles, the Fathers & St. Paul himself -- and even the inhabitants of a formerly united Christendom -- actually practiced Fasting to a similarly significant, if not, fastidious degree -- but perhaps not as that magnificently practiced by the Lord -- whereas ours today is fasting only limited to a more restricted number of meals during the time of Lent along with the foregoing of certain personal wants, desires & things); that is, among other things, we now select what are principally morally-neutral acts and the like (particularly, that which so captures the primitive senses and perhaps even encourages a certain wantonness in us) in the same sense of sacrifice in order not only to observe this venerable tradition and honor the Lord by it but also to enrich our own spiritual lives by this making more intimate our own relationship to the Lord at this special and specific period of recalling Jesus' own ultimate Sacrifice for us as well as to tame that carnal vice that almost too often consumes us and bring us further apart from Our Saviour rather than closer.

Your 2 cents, Mrs. Impson, are very far from shaky. They are well said and well taken.

I agree Paul; you'll hear far shakier thoughts about Lent from many of us whose exposure to Lent has been a long way from pitiably weak.

Thank you, Paul and Zippy. Your affirmation means a great deal to me. Now of course I am that much more obligated to act on what I understand, beginning tomorrow morning, right? :)

Well I am a Protestant and have fasted during lent for years. Some friends of mine did it and explained it to me much the same way that Beth did and I thought it sounded like a magnificent idea. I am constantly shocked when people find out that my wife and I observe a fast for lent and they immediately say, "You’re not Catholic!" in a tone that is clearly accusatory. I guess having come to grace from a secular background I continue to underestimate the division within the Christian family.

On a personal note, I found that it truly adds to my spiritual preparation for Easter Sunday. It enhances my Easter experience as the day is always out there in my reflection. Not because I am counting the moments until I can end the fast, but because the reason for my sacrifice is inescapably linked to “the event” as the early Christians called it.

I don’t care what anyone else thinks of my doing it, it is a huge blessing on this Protestant mongrel.

Not because I am counting the moments until I can end the fast, but because the reason for my sacrifice is inescapably linked to “the event” as the early Christians called it.

At least somebody gets it.

Unfortunately, many secularist Christians (Catholics certainly included, of course) have relegated this period, which should be centered on both Penance & Fasting as had always been the case since its inception then within the Christian Tradition, to nothing more than a worldly activity for "Self-Improvement".

In that sense, this Jay Watts is more Catholic than most Catholics are these days.

Mr. Watts, thank you for that testimony and encouragement.

Mr. Cella, forgive my impertinence in addressing you by your first name without being invited to do so!

And, I meant to add before braindeadness took over and hit "post," I am very comfortable on this forum to be addressed as "Beth."

The discourse here has been some of the best and honest content I've run across in a while, thank you all, even to the prickly aristocles. ;-)

Brad,

Thanks -- that really means a lot to me.

The worst that I could do to you in our exchanges is to be so dishonest as to present a face that is completely not mine own and employing the ever deceptive and equally risible guise of that ecumenical rubbish (not ecumenical dialogue, mind you, but the airs that members from both sides tend to employ in part) that could only do to both the Protestant and the Catholic a great disservice; that is, it is when we start pretending to be what our respective members are not to the point of compromising our very principles (i.e., those very things that make up our very identity), that we no longer stand as such but, instead, become rather an inferior imitation.

God bless you on your journey and kindly pray that He'll also guide mine.

The old often quoted proverb that says "better are the wounds of a friend than the kisses of an enemy" is one of my favorites. In a similar way as you aristocles, I say what I'm thinking without regard to whether I'm being too direct. [I am not usually good at being sensitive to how comments may be received, not because I want to hurt someone's feelings, but because I am so thick skinned myself that often I dont realize that what has been said/written could turn someone off to even hearing the content.] But, it's honest if nothing else, as even the previous post by me thanking the participants of this thread is.

The desire to understand what Lent is about has most certainly been met with good honest and personal insight that has given me a fresh perspective to consider it. So, thanks again.

Brad,

Thanks.


Our Pope himself this Ash Wednesday had provided an excellent Introduction to Lent in his Message here

EXCERPT:

At the beginning of Lent, which constitutes an itinerary of more intense spiritual training, the Liturgy sets before us again three penitential practices that are very dear to the biblical and Christian tradition – prayer, almsgiving, fasting – to prepare us to better celebrate Easter and thus experience God’s power that, as we shall hear in the Paschal Vigil, “dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace and humbles earthly pride” (Paschal Præconium). For this year’s Lenten Message, I wish to focus my reflections especially on the value and meaning of fasting. Indeed, Lent recalls the forty days of our Lord’s fasting in the desert, which He undertook before entering into His public ministry. We read in the Gospel: “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry” (Mt 4,1-2). Like Moses, who fasted before receiving the tablets of the Law (cf. Ex 34,28) and Elijah’s fast before meeting the Lord on Mount Horeb (cf. 1 Kings 19,8), Jesus, too, through prayer and fasting, prepared Himself for the mission that lay before Him, marked at the start by a serious battle with the tempter.

We might wonder what value and meaning there is for us Christians in depriving ourselves of something that in itself is good and useful for our bodily sustenance. The Sacred Scriptures and the entire Christian tradition teach that fasting is a great help to avoid sin and all that leads to it. For this reason, the history of salvation is replete with occasions that invite fasting. In the very first pages of Sacred Scripture, the Lord commands man to abstain from partaking of the prohibited fruit: “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Gn 2, 16-17). Commenting on the divine injunction, Saint Basil observes that “fasting was ordained in Paradise,” and “the first commandment in this sense was delivered to Adam.” He thus concludes: “ ‘You shall not eat’ is a law of fasting and abstinence” (cf. Sermo de jejunio: PG 31, 163, 98). Since all of us are weighed down by sin and its consequences, fasting is proposed to us as an instrument to restore friendship with God. Such was the case with Ezra, who, in preparation for the journey from exile back to the Promised Land, calls upon the assembled people to fast so that “we might humble ourselves before our God” (8,21). The Almighty heard their prayer and assured them of His favor and protection. In the same way, the people of Nineveh, responding to Jonah’s call to repentance, proclaimed a fast, as a sign of their sincerity, saying: “Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we perish not?” (3,9). In this instance, too, God saw their works and spared them.

In the New Testament, Jesus brings to light the profound motive for fasting, condemning the attitude of the Pharisees, who scrupulously observed the prescriptions of the law, but whose hearts were far from God. True fasting, as the divine Master repeats elsewhere, is rather to do the will of the Heavenly Father, who “sees in secret, and will reward you” (Mt 6,18). He Himself sets the example, answering Satan, at the end of the forty days spent in the desert that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt 4,4). The true fast is thus directed to eating the “true food,” which is to do the Father’s will (cf. Jn 4,34). If, therefore, Adam disobeyed the Lord’s command “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,” the believer, through fasting, intends to submit himself humbly to God, trusting in His goodness and mercy.

The practice of fasting is very present in the first Christian community (cf. Acts 13,3; 14,22; 27,21; 2 Cor 6,5). The Church Fathers, too, speak of the force of fasting to bridle sin, especially the lusts of the “old Adam,” and open in the heart of the believer a path to God. Moreover, fasting is a practice that is encountered frequently and recommended by the saints of every age. Saint Peter Chrysologus writes: “Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God’s ear to yourself” (Sermo 43: PL 52, 320. 322).

In our own day, fasting seems to have lost something of its spiritual meaning, and has taken on, in a culture characterized by the search for material well-being, a therapeutic value for the care of one’s body. Fasting certainly bring benefits to physical well-being, but for believers, it is, in the first place, a “therapy” to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God. In the Apostolic Constitution Pænitemini of 1966, the Servant of God Paul VI saw the need to present fasting within the call of every Christian to “no longer live for himself, but for Him who loves him and gave himself for him … he will also have to live for his brethren“ (cf. Ch. I). Lent could be a propitious time to present again the norms contained in the Apostolic Constitution, so that the authentic and perennial significance of this long held practice may be rediscovered, and thus assist us to mortify our egoism and open our heart to love of God and neighbor, the first and greatest Commandment of the new Law and compendium of the entire Gospel (cf. Mt 22, 34-40).

The faithful practice of fasting contributes, moreover, to conferring unity to the whole person, body and soul, helping to avoid sin and grow in intimacy with the Lord. Saint Augustine, who knew all too well his own negative impulses, defining them as “twisted and tangled knottiness” (Confessions, II, 10.18), writes: “I will certainly impose privation, but it is so that he will forgive me, to be pleasing in his eyes, that I may enjoy his delightfulness” (Sermo 400, 3, 3: PL 40, 708). Denying material food, which nourishes our body, nurtures an interior disposition to listen to Christ and be fed by His saving word. Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God.


Pace Zippy, however, the latter statement in the above excerpt all the more proves that Zippy's own seemingly Infallible Word is greatly limited even insofar as his own knowledge & understanding of the ancient Catholic Faith is concerned; to which, out of grand respect for it in observance for the venerable Tradition, I shall make my own departure herein.

From John J. Miller at NRO:

Rhetoric & Reality

Candidate Obama:


I have done more to take on lobbyists than any other candidate in this race - and I've won. I don't take a dime of their money, and when I am President, they won't find a job in my White House.

National Journal:

a National Journal look at 267 Obama nominees and appointees found that at least 30 — or about 11 percent — have been registered lobbyists at some point during the past five years.


Among them are some top officials: Attorney General Eric Holder was registered as a lobbyist at Covington & Burling as recently as 2004; Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor who is Obama's Agriculture secretary, was a registered lobbyist for the National Education Association in 2007; Ron Klain, chief of staff to Vice President Biden, was a lobbyist at O'Melveny & Myers until 2004; and David Hayes, deputy secretary of the Interior, was a lobbyist at Latham & Watkins through 2006.

***


Blameworthy? Notre Dame will give this man a honorary law degree, soon. I'm beginning to understand: the supreme principle of virtue is expediency.


After I simmered down a bit I managed to send some e-mails and notify others. Then I discovered that Beckwith had broken his promise, too.

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