Archived Story

‘B’ is a passing grade

Published 6:49pm Friday, April 25, 2014

I

got a “B” in Lent this year.

As a good liturgical Christian (which is what I try to be but don’t always succeed, as I’m about to confess) I sweat over the changes I’d like to make in my life prior to the Lent each year, and then I sweat through the process of making those changes during the 40 days of Lent.

Since we Episcopalians are in the minority here in central Alabama, as are liturgical Christians (in Alexander City, the only other churches that follow liturgical tradition are Roman Catholic and United Methodists; Presbyterians also observe many liturgical traditions), I’ll give a CliffsNotes version of what I’m talking about.

A long, long time ago Christians developed certain ways of doing things. This has been an evolving tradition for quite a while, like since the 4th Century. Back in the mid 1500’s, Thomas Cranmer created the Book of Common Prayer in English for the Church of England, which borrowed most of the liturgy of the Roman Catholic church, where Latin was spoken. The Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican Communion, which got its start as the Church of England missions in all the different countries that were once part of the British Empire. (I’m sure somebody will object to that definition, but it’s basically on target). Today, churches in the Anglican Communion and other liturgical churches still follow a common outline for specific church services and the various Christian seasons that fall throughout the year.

Lent is one of the seasons of the church year – it runs for 40 days between Ash Wednesday and the day before Easter. Fat Tuesday – which in French is called “Mardi Gras” (you’ve probably heard of that one before) – is a reaction to Lent. It’s the last day to cut loose before the solemn, penitential Lent season begins, when most people give up things, fast or try to make changes in their life. After Lent ends, Easter is a time to celebrate, feast and count your blessings.

This year on Ash Wednesday I vowed to give up 10 pounds for Lent.

It was a first for me. I’ve given up many things in the past, fasted on certain days, tried to create beneficial habits … but I’ve never given up anything as unforgivingly measurable as 10 pounds.

Last week on Holy Saturday, I stepped on the scale and discovered that I had lost 8 pounds during Lent.

I tried standing on one foot and then stepping off and back onto the scale. I had just gotten out of the shower, so I couldn’t take off any more clothes.

And I had already shaved off my winter beard.

There was nothing else to shed, no way around it.

I hit 80 percent of my goal. A solid “B.”

So here it is the week after Easter, and I’ve got a 20 percent Lent debt.

The good news is I’m forgiven.

The bad news is that the extra 2 pounds isn’t going away without more Lent-like behavior from me during the Easter season, which as I said earlier, liturgically involves feasts instead of fasts.

To be honest, the 10 pounds of Lent was a bit aggressive on my part, but it was also part of a larger goal to get in better shape. And there was always another 10-pound-loss goal planned this spring.

Except now it’s 12.

And as long as I’m confessing, I probably need to say I’ve flunked Lent before, so on the whole, I’m encouraged by 2014’s Lenten “B.”

Boone is publisher of The Outlook

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