Ash Wednesday was last week and, as many years past since I started teaching, I’ve missed all of that day’s Masses so no ashy forehead. But I tried my best to observe the fast, eating and drinking very little, abstaining from red meat. It was that day when I decided to give up red meat for Lent — which I absolutely failed to do during last weekend’s baby shower because Filipino fiesta fare is as Red Meat Paradise as you could get. It seemed against the spirit of Lent to reject the hospitality of shared food and drink, so I partook of kare kare, lumpia, beef and broccoli, and grilled pork ribs.
Except for finishing up the leftovers on the following day — the whole point of giving up red meat was to have a Carbon Fast during Lent, but wasting food (albeit pretty red meat heavy) seemed hypocritical to me — I’ve been doing okay on the “No red meat” observance. Thank goodness I like chicken and fish.
But that’s just an outer activity of what I gave up for Lent. The inner one is definitely much more difficult because I am horribly prone to this habit, even as I mentally beat myself for doing it: I’m trying to give up Schadenfreude.
Years and years of familial and cultural habit have formed a type of Schadenfreude for people that I’ve deemed have hurt me in some way. And — yes — it’s absolutely unChristian and certainly not merciful. I’ve been the victim of Schadenfreude many a time, and it feels HORRIBLE, and so how hypocritical would it be for me to perpetrate the same inner act?
Practically speaking, so far it’s just more awareness of when my emotions launch into it and then purposefully and deliberately thinking the opposite of what the Schadenfreude is making me feel. Yes, it still feels like me mentally beating myself for doing it, but at least it’s for a good cause. If Lent’s all about giving up one’s self for God — one’s own 40 days in the desert in order to cleanse oneself — then THIS that I’m trying to do certainly fits the “reason for the season.”
Just like in past Lents, when I strove to give up my fears for Lent, this Lent will be very hard for me.
But I guess it’s supposed to be.
Here’s praying that I make it to the other side… but until then, I will be eating a lot of chicken and fish!