Lent Me Your Ears

English: Ashes imposed on the forehead of a Ch...
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At least two bloggers I read have been talking about giving something up for Lent – Cin from Witchy Rambles and Medea from Black Vanity Mirror. Considering I’ve been cracking jokes about taking advantage of the fish specials at so many local restaurants lately, I can’t say that Lent wasn’t on my mind before that, though.

I first thought about it when I watched Stephen Colbert‘s interview with Nancy Pelosi last Wednesday – he did the show with his forehead annointed in ash, and so I couldn’t help thinking about the fact that it was Ash Wednesday even though I’d somehow totally missed Mardi Gras.

I grew up Catholic. I think I may have mentioned this here before? I gave up chocolate pretty much every year, which was a pretty safe bet because I didn’t see a lot of candy between Valentine’s and Easter. And while I got into paganism as a teen, I did circle back around to Catholicism in my early twenties. I went to church at least once a week, did confession, prayed the Rosary, recited in Latin, had my little altar to the saints and angels, and spent way too much time and effort on Enochian. This was when I was neck-deep in my theology degree and comparing the various angelic references in the writings of the doctors of the Church for fun. That was what I did to kick back on the weekends.

Yeah, I was a nerdy little Catholic mage. It’s not really a surprise I ended up Heathen, is it? The more homework a religion has, the more interested I am in it. And honestly, Heathenism still has a long way to go if it wants to think of itself as the most academic of religions. (Our Trothain’t got nothin’ on the Summa Theologica, I’m just sayin.)

The second time I severed my bonds with Catholicism, it was a much cleaner cut. I no longer go to Advent or Lenten services just because they feel familiar. I still have the rosary I got from my grandmother, and a few other obviously-Catholic-tinged altar pieces, but they’re intended as ancestor pieces. Catholicism isn’t really my thing, it’s the religion of my ancestors, and I respect it as such, but I no longer practice it. Borrowing Lent would feel as weird to me as borrowing any other holiday from a religion I don’t practice at all.

To those of you doing it, though, I wish you good luck and I hope you get a lot out of it. I’m curious, if you’re a non-Christian who’s observing Lent, did you grow up Catholic or is this something you first encountered as an adult?

0 thoughts on “Lent Me Your Ears

  1. While I’m not observing Lent, the concept never even really came into my life until I was in middle school when one girl expressed her amazement that I got to eat a hamburger during Lent when I was talking to her during class. It was one of those weird childhood moments when you realize that you have absolutely no idea what’s going on around you since you weren’t raised in the dominant religious paradigm.

    I think I considering myself an atheist back then? At the very least, I was non-religious and just not very aware of religion in general unless you count my love for mythology, but I didn’t become somewhat pagan until high school (I had trouble throwing off the whole atheist thing, so I was on the border between agnostic and pagan for the longest time). Anyways, I actually still didn’t quite understand what the girl was talking about and I might’ve asked my mother about it, but I doubt I grasped it entirely.

    It wasn’t until late high school/college that I actually learned what Lent was exactly. I definitely didn’t really know what Ash Wednesday was until college because I remember seeing all these people with the cross on their forehead and feeling like there was something ‘weird’ about all this. For someone who had never seen it before despite being at least nineteen or twenty, it’s a kinda eerie thing to see for the first time en mass.

    1. Yeah, I can see how it’d be weird to come across for the first time as an adult, especially if you’re in an area with a lot of Catholics.

  2. 🙂 I’m only doing it to support my fiance since he is Catholic. I grew up with no actual religion in my house. I went to sunday school with friends on occasion, but the only faith I actually learned about from my family is when my grans told me all about tarot and healing crystals. (she was big into new age stuff)

    Since I will have an inter-faith marriage, and his family is still practicing, I figured it would be good to learn about it and try some things too. He’s been to a few rituals and is excited to celebrate my faith with me, so I figure I can return the favor. 🙂

    1. I think it’s really supportive of you to do it with your fiance! There’s nothing harder than trying to give something up when your S.O. isn’t backing you up, or is actively undermining you. Are you spending any time on the Bible story behind the practice or is it purely the sacrifice for you?

      1. No, no bible time. 🙂 He isn’t a practicing Catholic so that part of it hasn’t really come up. We randomly talk about things and he explains the reasonings behind it for him but thats about it. 🙂

        This year has been a theme of willing sacrifice for me, so the sacrifice part fit in well.

  3. It’s a completely new and foreign concept to me. I first heard of Ash Wednesday as a teen, while making fun of someone with a big smudge on their head. I didn’t actually learn about the series of Holy days in the Christian calendar until a couple years ago when my best friend thought she had to become Catholic to marry her fiance (now husband) and we got trapped in a Wikipedia loop on the subject. The two years since, I have completely forgotten about it until I see some Lent-centric blog post on Ash Wednesday.

    I missed Mardi Gras, too. How the hell did that happen?

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