Observing Lent: Try Something Different

Yes, Mardi Gras is over for another year and we’re now fasting and abstaining from some of the things we like best, all in the name of the observance of Lent. For those of you who didn’t grow up here, or grow up Catholic (which a lot of native New Orleans did), it’s traditional to give up something that you really like to do—like drink, smoke, eat sweets, eat desserts, eat carbs (you get the picture)—during Lent. The solemn season of Lent officially starts on the day after Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday (March 1) and ends on Easter Sunday, April 16. So you have a 40 days to cleanse yourself of all your bad habits, to fast, pray, to give alms, and to use those actions as penance for your sins and to cleanse yourself spiritually.

The Catholic Church requires that the faithful perform penance for their sins during Lent, and that includes abstinence from eating meat on Fridays (check out all the restaurants in New Orleans that have seafood Lenten specials on Fridays). The other weekdays were simply days of “fasting without abstinence.” A similar practice (common in the United States) was called “partial abstinence”, which allowed meat only once during the day at the main meal. However, there is nothing in current Catholic Canon Law which corresponds to “partial abstinence”.

I’m wondering if a great Lenten abstinence would be to refrain from texting and to only checking social media once a week, but only on Fridays. I bet we’d have a lot fewer accidents and massively more productivity if we all got a little “religion” during Lent. And it sure as hell would be a huge penance and hardship for most of the people I know.

Are you going to anything special to observe Lent this year? Take our poll and if your name is selected at random, you’ll win two tickets to the Howlin’ Wolf on Saturday, March 18 to see Ruby & the Rogues plus Rebirth Brass Band.