the meaning of lent made plain

By Diogenes (articles ) | Feb 19, 2008

"I would suggest that we all relax a bit on our Lenten resolutions," rumbled Rembert Weakland in a deplorably ill-timed letter he issued back in March 2002, "The bombardment in the public forum about pedophilia in the Church has provided enough penance for everyone this year."

Lent is a difficult concept if you're a Thinking Catholic, because, well, we're an Easter People, and the very idea of a penitential season is repugnant to the project of self-affirmation you've substituted for that long-passé atonement business. Weakland's protégé Bishop Richard Sklba, stymied by the seasonal theme in preparing his Herald of Hope column, stumbles around in the Lenten Lectionary until he lights on an image he can warm to: water.

Environmentalists rally to object against the modern practice of blithely and constantly (mindlessly?) consuming bottled water which is virtually the same as the good H2O emanating from our kitchen taps and public fountains, and which contributes hundreds of thousands of plastic bottles to the land fills every day. Moralists suggest that the habit may even border on social sin in our more affluent Western culture, and could be the first step toward the eventual privatization of the world's water supply! I share these worries and sentiments, and Lent's annual focus on the life-giving mystery of baptismal water is a good time to say so.

Weakland must be gratified. Someone was paying attention.

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  • Posted by: - Feb. 20, 2008 1:40 PM ET USA

    As a little Lenten penance, I find that blowing bubbles through a straw into tap water results in a product not too dissimilar to Perrier.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 20, 2008 1:28 PM ET USA

    I switched to beer long ago. Too bad you can’t find any brewed by monks anymore. The Church could make a killing.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 20, 2008 1:08 PM ET USA

    I'm not averse to the bishop's concerns, but is it the mark of a "Thinking Catholic" to link them to baptismal water?

  • Posted by: - Feb. 19, 2008 8:24 PM ET USA

    Naive ... perhaps? (Evian spelled backwards) No apologies ... buy a water filter, and use a glass!

  • Posted by: - Feb. 19, 2008 5:50 PM ET USA

    Hell has boiling water?

  • Posted by: - Feb. 19, 2008 5:11 PM ET USA

    I would suggest that Skilba and Weakland lay off the Funny Water. I would also suggest that the gay crisis in the priesthood is a reason to redouble, not relax, Lenten observances. And now for a bottle of spring water...

  • Posted by: - Feb. 19, 2008 1:26 PM ET USA

    So then, why do many churches remove holy water during Lent? Oh I get it, it's because the plastic bottles don't fit into the holy water dispensers. If you want to get holy water during Lent, you have to go to the landfill and fish out a few of the plastic bottles. That's deep...

  • Posted by: - Feb. 19, 2008 1:00 PM ET USA

    Wait. Weren't the environmentalists the ones who alerted me to the dangers of drinking my tap water? You mean I could have been drinking tap water all this time, and the money I've spent on Evian could have gone to saving the polar bears? My head hurts.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 19, 2008 12:46 PM ET USA

    If I drink bottled water, but then recycle, would the social sin only be a venial one?