What are you meant to give up, anyway? And why are you meant to give anything up? It's all over FB what everyone is giving up and it's things like chocolate, meat, or sarcasm in one case - just wondering if that's really the spirit of the whole thing?
(More questions will no doubt pop up in JM's fertile brain.)
I am C of E and have been trying (with varying success) to give up something for Lent for over 20 years. The very first time I did it, I gave up sugar in coffee. I never needed to use it after that. Sadly every time I give up chocolate, it doesn't have the same effect!
Best one I have done is to go vegetarian. It's not as hard as it once was, but it's better for the planet to be veggie (eating grains directly rather than feeding them first to a cow) and also reminds me (the spiritual aspect) that there are folk out there who don't eat meat because they simply can't afford it or it's not available due to environment. That is food for thought (and prayer).
Sadly I like (sustainable) fish too much for being veggie all the time! This year I'm on the 5/2 diet and will try and do the fast days as veggie.
northey, you're right - it would be perverse to give up a positive behaviour!
I completely understand about feast days, but I'm not trying to observe Lenten ritual as it was originally established by the church. My Lent practice (giving up telly & internet) isn't about penance, it's about making space for more reflection and authentic connection. I love that the word 'lent' comes from the OE 'lencten' which referred to spring, or the coming of longer days. Lent can be about turning away from the dark and leaning into the light. Doing it for more than 40 days might not be orthodox, but I'm ok with that.
I give up something difficult for me and give the money saved as almsgiving.
I also take up special devotions each year, by joining a pop-up home group with other church family.
I have Sundays off as Sunday is always a celebration day.
Our church is really supportive with Lent. We always have a Lent Project which is the beneficiary of our almsgiving. It's made accessible to everyone by not being too big (those who can handle big can organise themselves). This year, we are doing 'Sandwiches for Lent'. Although this takes place on a Sunday, the idea is to have Sunday lunch with other families (especially new families to church), and then to serve up just sandwiches instead of the usual roast. We get to build relationships within our church family, save a fortune on food, and a lot of stress for the cook.
I work with a couple of church-going Catholics who are giving up chocolate and make a fuss about the hardship (they haven't read the bit in the Sermon on the Mount about fasting, obviously). Honestly, how much hardship is this for women in their 40s and 50s? They have not moved on from age 8, which doesn't say a lot for their spiritual maturity.
I'm actually struggling with what to give up this year. I don't eat gluten & don't really eat cakes or biscuits. I rarely drink alcohol due to medication I not that keen on chocolate anymore, & I don't eat nuts & crisps...
Dcs suggested tea but since that's my only real 'vice' I'm not sure if I can. Any ideas gratefully received.