40 Days and 40 Nights, 2015 Edition

For years, Dan has tried to get me to do some kind of nightly meditation. For my anxiety. And for years, I have scoffed. I have whinged. I have said, “Just let me read in peace, that’s all I need to alleviate my anxiety. And wine!”

Well, for Lent this year — which, incidentally, isn’t 40 days and 40 nights, but more on that below — I’ve decided that I am going to do a nightly guided meditation. For my anxiety.

Dan wins.

Seriously, though: he brought home a meditation computer DVD recently. I talked to him to see if instead of a computer program, we could find the right app (that’s right, an app) that I could put on my Kindle.

I’m going to do it through Lent. For me, for my family, to help alleviate my anxiety (which really does seem to be getting worse), to bring some kind of mindfulness to my daily life.

M and Kate sleeping.
Think of the children.


A good friend of mine posted a CNN article on Facebook, and out of curiosity, of course, I clicked on it. The headline was “5 Myths about Lent, and One Surprising Fact“.

Here’s the thing: The “myths” weren’t myths at all. They were incorrect facts. For example, the 40 days thing. Lent is actually, from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, 46 days. It’s not a myth that it’s 40 days, it’s not counting Sundays during Lent because they are not days of abstinence. The other “myth” that gave me pause was the belief that Jesus went into the desert for 40 days before he was crucified. That’s incorrect — according the Bible he went into the desert for 40 days prior to beginning his public ministry.

So what’s the difference between a myth and a wrong fact? Hm. I’ll have to meditate on that.

Doing anything for Lent?

10 thoughts on “40 Days and 40 Nights, 2015 Edition

  1. I shouldn’t have clicked on that link.

    It always bugs me we don’t count those Sundays during Lent. I would just rather the 40 days be an approximate rather than not having certain days “count” – what is the point of abstaining if we can NOT abstain?

    • I agree about Sundays. I’ve never given anything up and thought to myself, “Oh, I can have it on Sunday!” That seems bass-ackwards to me. When my children decided to start giving things up, I will tell them they still have to abstain on Sundays during Lent. However, if needs be, Lent is over Holy Thursday, so they only have to hold out until then. 😉

    • Sundays are a celebration of the resurrection of Christ, so they are always a feast day. It’s a reminder that even when God feels most absent, the incarnation has given us a taste of the resurrection.

      • We did a family lent activity most years. One of the most helpful was doing one day a week eating only what you can eat from the charity food box. Hamburger helper seems a lot more appetizing than it is in reality – they left food on their plates. And we learned to be very gratefu we can afford frozen and fresh vegetables.

  2. Rather than a myth, I would call it a “common misconception.” Speaking of which … would anyone like to discuss the idea of eating fish on Fridays during Lent? I was in a cafeteria line last year and heard a guy behind me say, “You can look around here and see who the REAL Catholics are!”

  3. You know, my brother freaked out with a Facebook rant after I posted that article, too – he thought it was ridiculous that anyone other than an intern might have been that misinformed to write it. (He removed his rant since. Maybe he gave up ranting for Lent. Unsure.)

    Anyway, I wasn’t posting it because I thought it was a great example of scholarship or anything – you know those internet list-y things are usually somewhat disappointing, and the author was clearly just looking for a context to plug the Rice Bowl Project because as I recall he’s the head of it or something. My brother was incredulous that anyone could really be so wrong about stuff that is “so easily looked up and verified.”


    Obviously, not so easily.

    I don’t think you can underestimate the amount of ignorance and misconception out there, whether from outsiders or insiders. I mean my in-laws have a discussion about the no abstaining on Sundays thing every year. EVERY YEAR. Like we’ve NEVER DISCUSSED IT BEFORE. Our good friend Father George – you know, as in PRIEST, weighed in on it a few years ago and it MADE NO DIFFERENCE.

    Anyway, I’m just personally curious about the origins of holidays and customs, either mine or others, and I’m interested in misconceptions about those kinds of things, and I’m especially interested in how stuff we learn as young American Catholics are sometimes completely, you know, non-canonical and/or only regionally observed and then we get older and find out, oh, I guess that’s just a Pittsburgh thing or an American thing. It always interests me. Pagan origins of xian ideas. Why there’s an Easter bunny. How one tradition morphs into the others. The effect of the 4th century fishing industry in Italy on the decisions of the church fathers. You know, stuff like that. That’s why I posted it. I wasn’t trying to be all: “HERE’S THE TRUTH ABOUT LENT YOU HEATHEN A-HOLES! Christ be with you.”

    (I know you know that. I’m just sayin’)

    I also think it’s easy to, while firmly situated in our own bubble of reference, to get sort of defensively astonished at what other people assume, like “How Dare They Not Understand The Nuances of My Belief System – Which, By the Way, No Two People In My Family Have Been Able to Agree On, Either!”

    And then all of a sudden we’re Kanye at the Grammys.

    As far as WORD CHOICE goes, I think when incorrect facts persist through time they certainly can be referred to as myths. Look at the vaccine autism thing. I’d definitely call that a myth.

  4. I am focusing on my spiritual life this lent. I have been doubting my understanding of God’s direction for me. I’ve been neglecting my prayer life and have been more negative, depressed and hopeless. Part of this is living with increasing pain and questioning, as my physical Therapist put it, what my quality of life is. I have lots of good things in my life, they are just hard to see behind the pain. I am going to try to find the good, and if I can’t say anything nice, to say nothing at all. That will require a lot of prayer, so that’s my other practice. To pray more than just at dinner, to remember to ask for help rather than trying to do it all on my own. Maybe that will help me hear what I am being called for.

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