Betty Duffy

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dream Big, Do Little

I am a failure at Lent. My husband is one of five fighting Irish brothers (actually, one's a sister, but you might not notice because she's the best athlete in the family). The first Friday of the sacrificial season they came over. They are always welcome, of course, but their visits are rarely an exercise in self-denial. The door to my vice cabinet opened and closed so many times Friday night, it sounded like Christmas here (jingle bells).

It seems the Duffy brothers have made their Lenten sacrifice something hidden, like not peeing in the shower, because they clearly did not give up beer, chocolate, or swearing.

Certainly, I was not required to surrender my own observations, but one doesn't want to be anti-social, nor wear their hair shirt too publicly, and I also made the same mistake I always make of trying to give up too much.

This sounds magnanimous of me: I tried to give up too much. Yes, for my Savior, I can give up coffee, the internet, beer, TV, carbs, and I can also attend daily Mass, do a weekly Holy Hour, and pray all the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries of the Rosary every day. Except that I have a habit of thinking BIG and doing little.

I'm a chronic dreamer, a bionic woman, a busy body in the deepest regions of my brain, but a complete slug when it comes to putting anything into action. But this seems to be a family trait.

For years the Duffys have talked about starting a family business. We almost had a painting business. We've talked about a custom furniture-making venture, and my personal favorite proposal of all of us operating hot-dog stands on the circle downtown. Wherever the money is, the Duffys have "talked about" being there.

Last night, we were all going to patent our secret inventions that are guaranteed to rake in the cash if we could just get them on the market. Everybody has a secret invention. My mother-in-law always wanted to make a coffee mug with a picture of Bobby Knight on it and the words, "You're in hot water now!" That's the way most secret inventions go: dream, dream, dream until it's too late to do anything about it. The moment in history when your invention was most needed has passed.

Well, I too, have had secret inventions that I want to patent and put on the market, and I'd tell you what they are, but you might steal my ideas. And I've also had movie screenplays I want to write. And a novel. And I want to give up a million things for Lent, because it would be wonderful to be completely detached from all my attachments. But as time passes, my big dreams fizzle out. Or, they completely drop off the radar when I reach an obstacle.

With Lent, I make my magnanimous pronouncement on Ash Wednesday, and then my first brush with temptation I might think, "Well, I gave up chocolate, and TV, so what's one little beer going to hurt?" The TV goes the same way, and then I feel like a failure, so I might as well eat chocolate.

I think I would have better success if I set reasonable and achievable goals for Lent. It's great to dream big, but when I look at the big picture (FORTY DAYS!), I feel stunned to inaction. It's sort of the same feeling I get when I think about having a million kids. I tend to forget that mothers of many children got there one baby at a time (with the exception of the Octomom).

Likewise, I'll take Lent one day at a time. Though today I am offering Christ my weakness and failure, tomorrow, I'm back on the wagon (except, by my calendar, tomorrow is Sunday which is technically an "off" day of Lent--if you do that sort of thing).


megan said...

I do the same thing at Lent. It must, at some level, have to be a sanguine trait. Epecially if there is some meloncholy thrown in there. Impulsive and pessimistic can be a dangerous combination. I have yet to keep my sacrifices for an entire 40 days..even when i have just picked one. Anyway, your commitment to get back on the wagon is what i need to hear.
Well, Im off to the C-Section. I cant decide if you shoudl be flatered or scared that the last thing I have done before going in is to check your blog. I'm sure my Mom will call your Mom and let her know if its ELizabeth or John Paul. I was telling my family the other night that its been my dream for many years to stand at the bottom of the stairs and scream "Uhhhhlllliizzzaaabeth." I'll have to ask for lessons from the pro.

Betty Duffy said...

Thank you for that laugh, Megan. Though to tweak your scream a little, there's a hint of the letter "A" in the "Beth" part of it. Sort of like "BAAAAAATH." I offered my morning prayers for you. Can't wait to hear the news!

Jus said...

Sundays off?!? Maybe the western church holds some appeal after all ;)

Betty Duffy said...

Technically, Sunday is not counted in the forty days because Sunday is always a liturgical celebration of the Resurrection. However, as my husband says, only the wimps give up their fast on Sunday...but hey, ecumenism has happened in stranger ways.

Jus said...

wow. we count Sundays AND our Pascal celebration is a week later.... Looking up now.

Jus said...

In Western Christianity (with the exception of the Archdiocese of Milan which follows the Ambrosian Rite), Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes on Holy Saturday.[3][1] The six Sundays in Lent are not counted among the forty days because each Sunday represents a "mini-Easter", a celebration of Jesus' victory over sin and death.[2]

In those churches which follow the Byzantine tradition (e.g. Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics), the forty days of Lent are calculated differently: the fast begins on Clean Monday, Sundays are included in the count, and it ends on the Friday before Palm Sunday. The days of Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday and Holy Week are considered a distinct period of fasting. For more detailed information about the Eastern Christian practice of Lent, see the article Great Lent.


Betty Duffy said...

Jus, this is so interesting. I actually looked up the Eastern Rite Lent this morning on Wiki and got the same article you quoted word for word. Does the Orthodox Church do Clean Monday thru Palm Sunday then? I had never heard of "Clean Monday" before.

Jus said...

"Clean Monday" is the first day of Lent. Teh Monday after Forgiveness Sunday (this past Sunday).

Great articles:

On the OC's position of not fasting on Sundays: