Ash Wednesday went very well for me this year. I had a nice Mass working with another Chaplain at the hospital and distributing ashes to folks who could not get to either the Episcopal or Catholic Mass. So one day down on the countdown. I noted before how badly I do Lent and that I am going to be happy rather than glum this year, even though I have always thought that Lent is unbearably long. In light of deciding to be happy I decided to do some Math.
There are 50 calender days until Easter. However the actual Lenten countdown is less as Sundays are always “Feast Days” and though within Lent don’t count the same. So one day down and since Sundays are feast days we can take them off, which takes us to 43 days. Holy Thursday, Holy Saturday and Easter are not part of Lent so that takes us down to 40. On the surface 40 days does seem long, in fact 40 days for me feels like an eternity. Now if we are honest we have to admit that although Mondays are kind of sucky because most of us go back to work, they do tend to go fast. Since Mondays are not days of fasting or abstinence and they go fast it’s kind of like they are not part of Lent. Admittedly for some they may not go fast and actually may be kind of hellish, but in my math they don’t count. That’s 6 more down, which means we’re down to 34. St Patrick’s Day falls within Lent and though it belongs in Lent in the USA it is the feast of the Patron Saint of Ireland. Since we are all Irish on St Patrick’s day it takes us down another day which takes us to 33. Since Fridays are days of abstinence, Thursdays and Saturdays become default substitutes for Fridays. This takes us now another 12 days since we tend to be slack on them we are down to 21. Baseball Opening Day certainly counts as a feast day, so were down to 20. My birthday which almost always falls during Lent is usually given a dispensation which I’ll gladly extend to anyone who is willing to wish me well. Especially if they buy me either presents or a beer. We’re down to 19. Tuesdays also tend to go pretty fast and since many people watch American Idol on Tuesday it really doesn’t count. Subtract another 6 days. This means there are only 13 days of real Lent. I mean like mandatory painful Lent, fasting and abstinence and that sort of thing. Now if we are actually observing Lent and giving something up there is some sacrifice on the other days, but that is kind of our choice.
So by my count I figure that Lent is really only 13 days. That’s under two weeks. Even I can do that. Have a great Lent.
And it gets better, I just remembered that Wednesdays in most traditions are now optional days for fasting or abstinance. So subtract another 6 days. This means that Lent is only 7 days. Who can’t do that?