Patience above! Mardi Gras is tomorrow, which means Ash Wednesday is this week and afterwards the season of Lent. Easter must be early this year. February this year is chock-full of holidays, what with The Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day last week.  I will skip Mardi Gras – again; it is a holiday I’ve never done. At most I would wear purple, green, and yellow beads to work (the one day I can get by wearing necklaces).  Although I have not been to Mass in over a year, I tend to follow the Lenten practice of toning things down. During Lent, my music and my eating becomes more austere. I like ‘giving something up’ and this year it may be Facebook. I think this ritual is supposed to come with a sense of deprivation but I admit ‘no FB’ sounds quite jolly and liberating.

I had a friend named Paula when I lived in Michigan who managed to make Lent quite festive. She was a vegetarian and she advocated this diet at any opportunity. During Lent she would make fabulous meatless table spreads for her Catholic friends (and anyone else).  These soy-based soirees took on the same feelings as Mardi Gras, although no one wore beads or exposed their chests.  I suspect someone complained to the local priests she was making Lent ‘fun” when it was supposed to be about ‘suffering’. I wonder what sort of pastoral advice was given to the snitch/theologian who was questioning Paula’s parties. The priests were probably nonplussed; this was a problem generally skipped over in divinity school. Then they  remembered the great Christian principle nothing needs reforming so much as other people’s habits and advised truth-seeker to askew and eat fish sticks like a good Catholic does on Fridays in Lent. Paula eventually stopped these shin-dings, not because the Ann Arbor chapter of The Spanish Inquisition showed up on her doorstep, but she grew tired from cooking and throwing such lavish parties every Friday.*  I still give up meat on Fridays during Lent, which is an old habit of mine. Like Paula I tend to make scrumptious veggie-based dinners which feel festive not frugal. Perhaps I am a closet convert after all. There are worse apostasy than giving up hamburger.



*I don’t recall she made any converts towards vegetarianism. Most of her disciples still got their honey-baked hams at Easter.