I still go to Mass with my mom and my lita when I'm home in OC. They like having me come, and I like singing. I don't say the prayers out loud - even though they run through my mind - years of training, it never goes away. When the time for communion comes I walk up to the front, cross my arms on my chest and lower my head, then I'm given the non-communion blessing. That's generally as far as my Catholicism goes these days.
I continued to attend weekly Mass during my first year and a half of college. After that point I found myself unable to reconcile the way the Church - through the Vatican, chooses to approach homosexuality. I could no longer be a good faith member of a church that, at its core, is unable to fully accept me and my lifestyle. I may be wrong in that decision, and maybe I'll reevaluate at some point, but for now, this is where I am.
The other day one of my many Catholic students (I'm an after-school teacher at a public school) pointed out to me that it was Ash Wednesday, I wouldn't have even realized if she hadn't said anything. I loved Ash Wednesday and the lenten season when I was a kid. When I had bangs I used to sculpt then specially - a side wave, so that you could still see the ashes beneath. Then I would be really careful to make sure that I didn't disturb them so the mark would stay as long as possible. I also liked giving something up, it was a challenge, the temptation to cheat always there but the desire to make it always a little stronger. Then to end it all is Palm Sunday - you get a palm and weave it into a cross - fun, you think about how next year these will be the ashes on your forehead - cool. I always made sure to wear sandals to Palm Sunday Mass. That was when the priest would go around the church and wash a select few peoples' feet, the way Jesus had washed the feet of the apostles. I always wanted to be chosen - I never was.
There is something about the lenten season that still appeals to me. I know the whole idea of "giving something up" during lent is to help you reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus made for us and bring you closer to God. That's not really the part that I am interested in. I like the idea of looking at your life and evaluating where something needs to or should be changed - something you indulge in too much, something you don't do enough, and then dedicating to making that change for 40 days. It's like New Year's Resolution Plus, because you make a commitment to change but you make the commitment to God, so you have more motivation to see it through. I think I'll "sacrifice" something this year, my first time since Lent 2001. I'll let you know when I decide what.
So ladies, how about you? What's your lenten sacrifice?