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Lenten overview

It's now Holy Week, and I've officially refrained from red meat and chicken for 40 days. But that's the only Lenten resolution I pulled off successfully. That, and abstaining from resentment and bitterness. The rest, I broke, even the going to mass daily. Strangely, I don't feel so guilty. In the middle of Lent, I had what's called a paradigm shift in terms of my Catholic practices.

When I took the ALC, which I wrote about here, I realized that my energy is better served if I focus on goodness and pursuing my happiness. Really, the time to mourn is over; now, and always, is the season for joy.

Which is not to say I don't respect Catholic Lenten practices anymore. Maybe I'd been doing it all wrong, and I now understand it better. I always thought if it didn't hurt, it wasn't a sacrifice, and that that was all there was to it. Now, I understand that it's not about hurting for a while, it's about hurting for a while and then getting better. It's not deprivation, it's actually empowerment.

My failures

I had difficulty going to church everyday, because I went about it all wrong. I did it out of duty, and so I never got out of the struggle. (And of course, there was this whole matter of leaving for Pasig early and coming home late during the four days I took the ALC--but that's my victim story). If I had done it out of joy (and I had had that kind of experience before, when I was praying for Juan to recover), then maybe I would have enriched myself and my spirituality with 40 days of going to church.

I had difficulty abstaining from refined sugar, because I also went about it all wrong. I was thinking "diet" more than abstinence.It was hard to fast from anger and hatred, because I kept fighting with Ray. I was frustrated with his behavior (as he probably was with mine), but I guess... well, I still have no realization here.

It's just difficult to talk to people when they're more committed to protecting themselves or making you calm than resolving the situation and coming to an agreement. Then again, it's difficult to talk to people (and this time, I'm referring to me) when they're easily frustrated, and, generally just possess really evil temper. I'm currently in the process of uncovering what I contributed to the state of our friendship now, in the chance that we can still save it.

My successes

I managed to stay away from red meat and chicken because it was the only abstinence I was really committed to. Red meat was easy to quit, because I needed it for health anyway (we have a family history of arthritis, and at my age, I *think* I'm feeling it). The chicken was a challenge, because I had to impose it (at least in terms of restaurant and combined menu choices) on most of the people I dined with, but they were all very understanding. All in all, this particular sacrifice was one that I held up to God, because I knew it was good for me. And I was successful at doing it because it made sense for me to take care of myself to better reflect God's glory.

I'm not sure if I can still continue not eating red meat (already there's a kilo of frozen Ilocos bagnet waiting for my decision in the fridge), but I'm surely going to eat chicken again. Maybe I can do a weekly schedule thing (like no-meat Fridays, no-meat weekends).

I also managed to abstain from resentment and bitterness. The ALC helped immensely in making me see that there's more joy to be had than ever. Part of being bitter or resentful, I believe, is that you think you're never going to have it as good as you did. But I leave that all behind me now, and know that the best is on its way.

I therefore conclude

That while my Lenten fasting and abstinence was more of a failure, I don't really see it that way anymore. In fact, I think what I did (considering how I did it) was totally unnecessary. Next Lenten season, I should just focus on things that I should do to reflect God's glory. Like write. Or do 40 days of volunteer work. Some Lenten project that's better served by my energy.

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