Another Lent is at our throats. At least that’s the way it feels. William F. Buckley is said to have answered someone who asked if he liked writing, “I like having written,” and that is my feeling about Lent. I like having done it.

I would commend to  you the old practice of giving up something, which I wrote about a couple of years ago in  Just Give It Up . The experience of your own worldliness is always, even after giving things up for decades, a bit of a shock, and a salutary one, and what small increase in self-discipline you acquire a good thing in itself.

For some reason, the comments on the article disappeared. Several were very helpful, too, but there were a few — to head them off here — who went on in that chipper post-Vatican II nun-in-stretchpants St. Louis Jesuits guitar mass Jimmy-Carter-grin accentuate the positive Mary Poppins kind of way, that Lent isn’t about giving up things but about opening ourselves to God, etc. I can’t remember the jargon, but I remember it was very trying.

So: Yes, okay, sure, go ahead, have a positive Lent. But the rest of us, self-indulgent hedonists that we are, need to start with an exercise that reminds us of who we are, and how far we fall short of our ideals, or even our usual self-appraisal, and how much we need the grace of God. As I say, Just Give It Up .

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