Put your top on and take off your beads. Digest that paczki and wash your face to remove the plethora of dried, unknown substances.
The fun is over. Mardi Gras is done and Lent is upon us.
I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic schools for the majority of my life, so I am quite familiar with this time of year. Forty days and forty nights of restraint and self-denial. And today is Ash Wednesday, the big kick-off to the whole season.
In case you couldn’t tell, I’m a pretty fallen (okay, practically excommunicated) Catholic. But given my upbringing, most of my best friends are Catholic, so they’ll be taking part in the major Lenty traditions: not eating meat on Ash Wednesday or on any Fridays throughout Lent and giving something up.
Here is my beef with Lent. Actually, it’s a no-meat day, so let me rephrase that. Here is my tofu with Lent: So many Catholics I know refuse — seriously, refuse — to eat meat on Fridays. Fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. But then they just go out and sin every other way possible!
“Oops, hey, it’s Friday — can’t eat that cheeseburger! But I gotta go — Imma go smoke a joint and then blow this dude. Catch ya later, Rach!”
My family is really bad about this. They are so lapsed, I wouldn’t even call them Creaster Catholics, but during Lent, our house becomes the Bible Belt.
Do what you want to do, I just find it hard to believe that they’re saving a place in the seventh layer of hell next to murderers and child molesters for a girl who hasn’t gone to church in five years but ate meat on a Friday.
I remember sitting at lunch in my sorority house in college on Ash Wednesday. I heard many discussions about when people were attending Ash Wednesday services, whether or not dinner would be meat-free, and what people were giving up.
Oh and the usual stuff: Binge drinking, random sex, dancing on elevated surfaces, pregnancy tests, coveting thy neighbor’s BF. Typical stuff.
Wait, wait, wait….you can do all these things and still be Catholic?
Oh, but you have to give something up! That’s right! People were talking about giving up:
Chocolate. French fries. Pizza. Soda. Ice cream.
Hmmm. So, here’s the deal. No meat once a week (but sushi is cool). No fatty foods. All the “Girls Gone Wild” behavior you can muster. Some ashes on your forehead. Ticket to Heaven.
One time it was a Friday during Lent and I was out with my friend and her mom, who are both Catholic. They got fish. This is the same friend who, on Ash Wednesday that same year, told her mom she was going to church, rubbed a little mascara on her forehead, and then took a secret road trip to MSU smoke pot with another friend. I’m no Biblical scholar, but I’m pretty sure if you consume copious amounts of alcohol, do drugs, and have sex, no amount of salmon is going to save your soul.
Then there are the people who give something up by going on a diet. “I’m just going to eat healthier during Lent,” they’ll say. “I just want to look good on Spring Break.”
Again, you can check in with the Vatican on this one, but using Lent as an excuse to get ready for your wet T-shirt contest somehow seems wrong.
But they insist upon getting closer to God by getting closer to a size four.
However, I’m beginning to see that the religion of my youth might be perfect for me! Since I rarely eat meat, I’ve pretty much absolved myself of responsibility for sins. I eat fish on Fridays…I actually might already be going to Heaven! The whole reason I dropped out of Catholicism is because I thought I could never win. Catholics, OMG (literally “G”!!)…you sucked me back in!
Oh but can someone just tell me if meatless Fridays will get me some leeway when it comes to sleeping with Jews? Because I forgot that that personality trait might be the other reason I stopped being Catholic.
P.S. Last night my mom asked me sarcastically why I wasn’t out drinking and celebrating Mardi Gras. I screamed, “WooooOOOOooo!” and flashed her. The look on her face was priceless. I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in weeks.