Metro-East Living

You can learn a lot about yourself during Lent

Terry Mackin
Terry Mackin

I learn a lot about myself during Lent.

I learn that abstinence makes me really, really want what I can’t have.

Like Girl Scout cookies.

And vanilla ice cream.

Nehi grape soda.

Or this year, it’s Dr. Pepper.

Man, I miss those 23 different flavors.

During Lent, I learn that I am easily led into temptation, especially when it’s something I can’t have.

As a Catholic, I’ve been observing Lent in preparation for Easter since grade school. The old nuns at St. Philip’s Grade School told us to write down our seasonal sacrifice on a piece of paper. Of course, I wrote down whatever would make them happy. You didn’t want to make the old nuns madder. Even their smiles looked like frowns.

I wrote down what sounded good. No candy. No TV. No fighting with my brothers. No lying to the old nuns. Right. I went home after school. Ate a candy bar. Watched F Troop. Cheap-shotted one of my older brothers with a pillow to the head. Ran.

Over the years, I’ve temporarily sacrificed it all for Lent. Chocolate. TV. Soda. Ice cream. Fingernail biting. Beer. Girl Scout cookies. Lying. Swearing. Pizza. Sleeping late. Cheeseburgers. Reading the sports page. Golf. Chicken wings. Ted Drewes. ESPN. Fried fish.

Giving up a favorite food or drink is a popular Lenten sacrifice. In a recent survey from LifeWay Research, over half of Lenten sacrificers said they will fast from a favorite food or beverage. About 57 percent will make sure they’re attending church services. About a quarter fast from a favorite activity.

I wish them luck and great discipline.

So far, so good for me, this Lent 2018. I’ve resisted the temptation for a Dr. Pepper. But there are a few weeks remaining until Easter. I’m admittedly weak. If I were a betting man, I’d bet against me, based on history. Here are some my past experiences on sacrifices made for Lent, only to give into temptation.

Ice cream

I’ve given up ice cream numerous Lents. Told my world. Of course, they laughed. All I could think about was my friends, Ben & Jerry. I’m an old-fashioned ice cream guy. Vanilla ice cream. Chocolate syrup. I don’t even try to give it up for Lent. It’s like medicine to my mind.

Girl Scout cookies

I’ve resisted the Thin Mints. But once the box of Trefoils (shortbread) opens, well, it was like those little squares talked to me. I’m not sure what “Trefoil” means. But I’ve always assumed it meant three per bite.


I’ve sworn off chocolate at least 40 of my 58 Lents. I’m successful until I hear the ping of M&Ms into a glass bowl. Try to eat just one M&M. Vitamins, I call them.

Fried fish on Fridays

One year, I actually tried to give up one of the true treats of Lent. Cod cut-ups. French fries. Onion rings. But I surrendered while driving by St. Henry’s gym on West Main in Belleville on a Friday evening. It’s a Catholic thing. The scent of fried fish called me home. Lent or not, I’ve learned a guy will eat just about anything that’s battered and deep fried.


It wasn’t that hard to give up beer, especially that one Lent that I gave up fried fish. The two go hand-in-hand, literally, when you eat fish at the fish stand and don’t bring it home.

Easter candy

I made up for lost time on Easter Sunday. My pants pockets were filled with tiny little balls of colorful tin foil wrappers from mini chocolate eggs. At least a hundred of them. Ate them like peanuts or popcorn.

Foul language

I figured food was fruitless. So I gave up cussing. Again, I told everyone about my penance, using very polite, considerate, politically correct language. Damn. Locked my keys in my car again. Then the lawn mower would not start. #@&*!