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24 Jan 2022

Longford Leader columnist Mattie Fox: The changing face of Lent

St. Mel's Cathedral. Photo: Joe McDonagh.

Lent is still seen as a time to try to clean up our act and address our weaknesses, says Mattie Fox

“Remember man that thou art dust; and unto dust thou shalt return” - the words spoken by the priest as he put the ashes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday.

Reminding me, in recent times of the old joke concerning a child who,having this explained to him by a parent, said “well there’s someone either coming or going under my bed”!

For those of us who’ve earned the tag ‘mature’ (though I wonder sometimes when listening to teenagers), Lent has lost the penitential element that we experienced in our youth.

Even for those who do make an effort to “give up” something - it is easier now because we have so many alternatives to fill that gap than previous generations.

For those who like to attend morning Mass during Lent we can all sit into our cars and drive to church. I can clearly remember a time when people walked long distances, sometimes through the fields, fasting from midnight, to get to Mass. It was not unusual to see people fainting in the church. How times have changed.

Yet, Lent is still seen as a time to try to clean up our act and address our weaknesses, and the process feels good for body and soul.

The modern take on using this time, not just to “give up” something, but maybe to do something positive as well, sounds very good.

Like it says on the Berlin Wall: “Many small people who, in many small places, do many small things that can alter the world.”

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