A cup of coffee is the new slab of steak this Lenten season

THE road to heaven is paved with good intentions. (saintmichaelschapel.org)

THE road to heaven is paved with good intentions. (saintmichaelschapel.org)

NOT looking at porn would probably be easier. 😉 Now that we’re in the middle of the 40-day Lenten season, which began almost three weeks ago on Ash Wednesday, I just realized that there are certain objects and rituals I simply can’t live without. And that doesn’t include a Big Mac and a plateful of KFC.

Nonbelievers and even those within the Catholic fold probably find the practice of fasting and abstinence (refraining from eating meat, including chicken, on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all Fridays of Lent) among Catholics strange, antiquated and an unattainable imposition that’s bound to fail.12_02_20_AshWednesday

A good number of lapsed or even indifferent Catholics may even scoff at the practice as useless and filled with empty piety that offers believers an excuse to engage in wanton debauchery once Easter Sunday rolls in. Others, including myself, do it more out of tradition.

And then there are those who find fasting and abstinence as a means to “detoxify” and lose weight. Now, that’s totally missing the point.

Christ’s suffering

Our reasons for doing so based on the Catholic viewpoint are best reserved for a future entry. Suffice it to say, the small sacrifice we inflict on ourselves is our way of sharing in Christ’s as well as the world’s suffering. They’re forms of detachment that supposedly enables us to leave, even for a short period, our earthly cares and focus more fully on God.

EMPTYING yourself for a higher purpose (www.teamrcia.com)

EMPTYING yourself for a higher purpose (www.teamrcia.com)

As acts of penance, wrote online theologian Marco Fallon, fasting and abstinence “without true inner renewal are lifeless.” In short, such acts should be our key to becoming, like a box of detergent, a new and improved person from now on and every day of the year. 😀

They should jumpstart the process of making us true witnesses for the faith. A living faith that’s reflected in everything we say, think and do whether in public or in private.

Although detachment and self-denial can take many forms, every act you do is somewhat directly opposed to human nature, which is naturally imbued with greed, vanity and self-preservation. Here are just five of the things I can’t seem to do without even on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, let alone on all Fridays of lent.

The evil quintet?

O Coffee – While having dinner recently with a group of friends, including Joanne Rae Ramirez, journalist and editor in chief of a leading society glossy, I was reminded of how dependent I am on coffee.

AVOIDING meat is, well, a piece of cake. (www.blessedisthekingdom.com)

AVOIDING meat is, well, a piece of cake. (www.blessedisthekingdom.com)

Joanne, a practicing Catholic, confessed that she could do without meat, but couldn’t seem to imagine herself starting the day without a single cup of coffee. Although I refrained from commenting, I totally understood where she was coming from.

You’re not alone, Joanne. As far as this Catholic is concerned, a cup or two of coffee is the new steak (and the bigger sacrifice), which I can’t do without in the morning, afternoon and even evening.

O Facebook and Instagram – How many times have I told close friends of how sick and

LENT or no lent, Facebook and other forms of social media have become hard habits to break.

LENT or no lent, Facebook and other forms of social media have become hard habits to break.

tired I am of Facebook, only to find myself mindlessly going through its newsfeeds while, say, caught in traffic or even in between writing an utterly boring story?

If I have a way of counting the times I’ve needlessly browsed through Facebook, it would have been by now more numerous than the strands of hair that make up Mary Magdalene’s head.

As if Facebook weren’t enough, now comes Instagram, which, unlike Twitter, is bereft of obvious attempts by its users to appear profound and interesting. It has often been said that pictures say a thousand words, and, for some reason, I can’t seem to stop myself from “listening” and being “listened” to.

O Working out – Since it has become an integral part of my day, working out is like brushing my teeth. Although I won’t go berserk if I miss a day or two of going to the gym, I can’t imagine myself enduring an entire week without hitting the treadmill.

If you still can’t put yourselves in my shoes, try imagining yourselves going through an entire week without brushing your teeth. 😀 Need I say more?

O Car – Despite the hassles that come with owning and maintaining a vehicle, I can’t imagine myself ever fighting again with the rest of humanity as we squeeze through a jam-packed train or scramble for the last available space inside a jeepney. It’s so barbaric!

I’d rather fight for space and act like a barbarian on the road than on the bus or train stop. I’ve become too old and too impatient to queue up, haggle with unscrupulous taxi drivers and endure Metro Manila’s inefficient and overburdened public transport system.

Should my car break down this very minute, Lord, have mercy! I would be in need of a miracle since I’d be as good as crippled.

SPEAK no (unnecessary) evil. (muslimpresence.com)

SPEAK no (unnecessary) evil. (muslimpresence.com)

O Cellphone – Perhaps, the old saw of money being the root of all evil needs some

updating. Smartphones and its seemingly limitless capabilities that allow us to social network, surf, read, text, email, gossip, watch videos (including porn!) and even pay bills come close.

Like my wallet, credit cards and designer bag, my iPhone is one necessary evil I simply can’t live and leave home without. Without it, I feel incomplete and rudderless. What about you? What can’t you give up for Jesus this Lenten season? 😉



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