Among my Lenten practices I swore off eating chili cheese flavored Frito brand corn chips and McDonald’s products (I know, heroic).
I chose to do this because they are not good for me, and because I like them so much, too much.
I intended to give them up just for Lent, and then consume mass quantities of them beginning on Holy Thursday evening, the end of Lent.
But for the reasons given above, and also because I feel inspired to practice more self-denial, I decided not to start up again after Lent.
(That will make some people happy, who are weary of me referencing jalapeño double burgers in homilies.)
But there is another reason: how much sense, I asked myself, does it make to do an extra good thing, or to give up a bad thing, intending all the while to revert back to pre-Lenten practice?
If Lent is about preparing to renew at Easter the new, different, and better life we received in Baptism, then maybe our Lenten practices should become part of a new, different, and better life all year round.
Now, not all of us will want to apply this notion to the works of prayer, penance, or charity that we imposed on ourselves back in February, happy to do them for 40 days, but not, like, forever. Really.
So, maybe next Lent we might choose something that can become part of a new, different, and better way of living all year round.
Here’s a suggestion: practice standing on your head, walking on your hands. The purpose is not just to be a hit at parties, but also to train yourself to see what the world proposes from the perspective of Jesus’ teachings: upside-down.
For example, the world says save your life, Jesus says lose it by living for others. The world values ruling, Jesus says you do this by serving. The world values being first and exalted, Jesus says you have to be last, to humble yourself. The world says take, Jesus says give, forgive, do not condemn, do not judge.
But why wait until next Lent? As a way to celebrate at Easter the new, different, and better life we received in Baptism, start practicing now this upside-down faith perspective of looking at what the world values. Happy Easter!
(If you see me in a McDonald’s drive-thru, be merciful to me, a poor sinner.)