It is that time of year again when we of the Catholic faith humble ourselves and pick something we love to give up for Lent. It is always very difficult to choose something and as the years go by, the task seems to grow larger and more difficult. What is fitting for an adult is not so much for a child. Every child gives up the same thing until about the age of 14 or so; candy. Why candy? Because at the end of it all, that glorious day known as Easter we get gobs of it in a big basket filled with plastic colored straw. One useful strategy growing up was to give up something you didn't really like and that made it easier, until your parents found out and said no.
Over the years I have not been one to go to Mass as often as I should. Well, I practically never go if truth be told. I was one of the privileged ones growing up that was plucked out of school to serve Mass as an alter boy, and did so willingly for seven or eight years. I would accompany my father to eight-o-clock Mass on Sunday and invariably the server would not show up. My father, the dutiful usher would give me 'the nod' and I would slip back into the sacristy, suit up and accompany the priest out to the alter. It was a function I rather enjoyed although I'm not sure exactly why. If you want your parents to be proud of you, become an alter boy, sorry, or girl. We didn't have alter girls back in my day.
One of the fascinating things about 'serving' is being around a great deal of priests year in and year out. They are the true politicians of the religious world. They will shake your hand while you stand in line, all the while looking over your shoulder to see who is behind you. If I think hard I may be able to recall the names of three or four priests. Most are aloof and can't be bothered with young men scampering around to help them in their sacred daily tasks. Nuns however are another matter. If nuns weren't nuns they'd be Marines. Nuns are now and always have been the backbone of the Catholic church. They do the dirty work, have a charitable heart and look you in the eye when they speak to you; and that can be really, really scary! Without even trying I could rattle off the names of a dozen or so nuns. That is one fact I lament about the Church is the loss of nuns in the world.
Now that we are one full week into Lent, I better think of something to give up before Easter actually comes. Perhaps I can give up candy!