Variety returns to the rosary
Those who cannot see

The passage of time

Being a man of a certain age, I've got used to specific routines and comforts.  One of them is pizza on Friday.  It goes without saying the best pizza has pepperoni on it.

Add onto this my extreme dislike of fried fish, and Lent is rather bothersome to me. 

That's a good thing, because we only truly appreciate something when we are at risk of losing it.  I savor that pizza all the more knowing that I will have to go without it around this time next year.

The same is true of fasting in general.  In a society overrun with food, self-induced hunger is more important than ever.  In subsistence economies, fasting is often a necessity, but we're far removed from that.

These were not things I thought much about when I entered the Church years ago, but as I continue my exploration of Catholicism, they have moved from quirks to essential elements of the Christian experience.  The liturgical calendar has likewise moved from a sidebar to the secular one to by far the more important of the two.  Secular holidays are things that are imposed on me, and for the most part require no real effort to observe.  Religious holidays seem to me far more important, and the fact that I often have to use vacation time enhances their value.

In his Sword of Honour trilogy, Evelyn Waugh makes heavy use of the liturgical calendar, often using it as the reference to time rather than the usual month and day.  This was the first time I considered the full import and meaning of feast days, Ordinary Time and the so on.

An additional element in my appreciation is the fact that I am finally getting serious about gardening.  Hitherto I simply cleared some ground, read the instructions on the seeds, and hoped for the best.  This is the first time I bothered to do research, prepare a plan and move forward in a deliberate manner.

And while I have a constant eye on the weather, I'm also noting the interaction with the spiritual calendar and the living world around it.


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Joseph Hamilton

Your opening comment on pepperoni pizza and Lent and the popular consumer culture we live in reminded me of something I occasionally cogitate about before arising for the day. I was walking around San Francisco on a visit there several years ago and overheard a young man and woman whining and commiserating helplessly and hopelessly with each other on the sidewalk. They were exhausted with the effort and stress of living a bleak and pointless life. I imagine they were homeless and mentally ill and perhaps understandably I’ve not been back since and don’t plan to be either. I’ve read that such things touch us more deeply when the observed and the observer are of the same race, viz. the WWII Caucasian soldiers’ differing experience with enemy war dead in the European and Pacific theaters. Anyway it reminded me of an incident mentioned in Michael Shellenberger’s book “San Fransicko” in which a restauranteur before he heads home “smokes a couple bowls” with the homeless who congregate behind his restaurant at closing time to eat the table scraps. Once they had grown familiar and easy with each other they rather frankly admitted that they were just there to die and to feel good until that happened; like Tennyson’s lotus eaters, I suppose.
A year or so ago I read the observation that the counter-culture is now the culture. Not too long before that I probably would have resisted that notion and conjured up a separate reality but no longer. I really can sense that being a Christian in Western society today has a lot more in common with the martyrs in the Coliseum than at any time previously in my lifetime and the previous millennium.

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