FROM: Anthony S. Layne
SUBJ: A "Used-to-be" Lent
DATE: March 21, 2014
Every now and again I get a chance to read your blog posts. Ordinarily, I come away from reading them refreshed, challenged and encouraged. In the main, you strike me as a successor to the apostles who is positive and embracing but not afraid to be a "sign of contradiction", a bishop who embraces the role of shepherd over that of administrator.
However, yesterday's offering, "A 'Used-to-be' Lent", left me dissatisfied; it struck me as almost a whine. And I don't take you for the whining type.
Let me give you an example of what I mean:
So, for instance, I’m at a great parish in the archdiocese and notice that they’re having a big dance on ... the first Friday of Lent!
So, I’m at a huge banquet for over a thousand men, mostly Catholics, where the liquor flows and the steaks are medium-rare on ... a Friday of Lent!
So, I’m at Mass in a parish where they sing the Gloria and have alleluias all over the place on ... a Sunday of Lent!
I admire how our Jewish neighbors take their “high holy days” in the fall so seriously, especially the days of penance, fasting, and contrition ...
Our Islamic neighbors fast all day and deepen their prayers for a month at Ramadan ...
And here, my Catholic people write me for a “dispensation” on one of the six measly Fridays we’re asked to abstain from meat (big sacrifice these days!), if they even bother with the dispensation at all.
Am I being too gloomy here? You know me well enough to realize I’m hardly puritanical or a crab. All I’m asking is: have we lost Lent? Is it all now nostalgia, a museum piece, in the attics of our souls, as we tell our kids and grandkids how Lent “used-to-be”?
Lent didn’t just used to be . . . it’s needed now more than ever!