Things we ought to give up for Lent

A surface reading of Catholic blogs lately has made me ponder the purpose of these things. Since it’s Lent, I thought maybe all of us, bloggers or readers, could resolve to give up some things:

  • The use of the phrase “put the smackdown on…” in reference to religious leaders. For example, “Pope Benedict or Pope John Paul or Cardinal N. or Bishop N. or Father N. put the smackdown on liberals or gays or liturgical musicians or abortionists or anyone else.” Such an image is tantamount to religious “my father can beat up your father-ism” and is totally unbecoming and unflattering to a man who has given his life to be a servant of Jesus Christ. Jesus himself did not delight in putting the smackdown on anyone, which is not the same thing as saying he condoned everyone’s behavior. For example, look at how he dealt with the moneychangers in this week’s Gospel.
  • The ridiculing of anyone who does not share one’s own liturgical sensibilities, most especially one’s own liturgical music preferences, which can be quite subjective. You don’t have to agree with everyone, and you don’t even have to like their music. But ridiculing a brother or sister in Christ does violence to the Church (which is, after all, the whole point of the words of absolution in the Sacrament of Penance, “By the ministry of the Church…”) and is completely incompatible with worshipping Christ in the Liturgy.

I noted in another place that such resolutions would likely result in empty blogs (and I guess even message boards) here and there, but maybe that’s a good thing. Lent is a time for conversion; would that we all would pursue that conversion in word and action during these forty days. Perhaps then we could approach worship of the Lord in the Paschal triduum with renewed hearts and minds (cf. Rite of Penance, 13).

I do not wish the sinner to die, says the Lord,
but to turn back to me and live.
(Ezekiel 33)