Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Origin of the Celebration of Lent

Mt Fellow Comedists,

I've been doing a lot of research into the history of religion lately as I wind up writing Einstein's Jewish Science, and this is inspired by a comment from good brother Hanno and is almost true:

Setting: meeting room in the Vatican, a good long while ago.

Pope: Thank you, Monsignor, for a very thorough report, you've given us a lot to think about and I think that you are correct that shame is certainly one important element in increasing contributions. Next on the agenda is Cardinal Roberto, to whom I have given a very special assignment. As you will remember, I am concerned that we are not sufficiently reverent during the Lenten period and I have asked the good Cardinal to research the question and propose a new ritual for the period leading up to the Holy Days of Easter. Cardinal?

Roberto: Thank you, your Eminence. I was fortunate enough to be given this assignment by His Holiness, a task that I have given great effort and consideration. As the Father has said, it would be a good idea to prepare the faithful for the holiest days of the calendar with a period of reflection and sacrifice. As Jesus, our Lord was tested in the days before He ascended, so too should we be tested.

I began by studying the rituals of our brethren Abrahamic traditions. On Yom Kippur, the holiest day for Jews, they mark the time by fasting from sundown to sundown. The Muslims, for their holy period of Ramadan, for 30 days they fast from sunrise to sundown. So, I propose that we show them who is the most observant, the most committed. For the FORTY days of Lent, we shall fast, not letting any food pass our lips from sunrise to sundown. During the Lenten period, the hunger we shall feel we will satisfy not with the food of this Earth, but with the sustenance of the Spirit. And so, henceforth, we shall fast the forty days of Lent.

Pope: Wonderful work, Cardinal. Thoughtful, insightful, decisive. I LOVE it. But...what's say we tweak it...just a bit, nothing much. What's say we...I don't know...instead of EVERYDAY for forty days, let's say we just do it, you know, once a week. Fridays. That's it. We'll do it on Fridays.

Roberto: Yes, your Holiness. During the forty days of the Lenten period, on Fridays, we shall abstain from eating. Just as Jesus suffered painfully with the crown of thorns, so we too will partake in his pain by eating nothing from sun up to sun down each Friday during Lent. We will feel the pain within the core of our being so that he may fill the void. Once a week, absolutely no food whatsoever shall we ingest in reverence to his sacrifice for us.

Pope: know...I really love this idea, Cardinal, really, really do. Fabulous, absolutely fabulous...but NO food at all? Seems a little extreme don't you think? How about if we don't give up ALL food, just certain foods. Let's say...meat. On Fridays during Lent, we'll give up meat.

Roberto: (sigh) I completely concur, Eminence. Just as Jesus, on that holiest of days, did leave behind his flesh so that He may cleanse us of the sinful ways of our flesh, on the Fridays during Lent, we too will surrender flesh from our diets. During this holy period, we shall be like our Lord and Savior by eschewing all eating of any animal of the earth, sky, or sea. We will sacrifice in this SMALL way just as He did sacrifice for us.

Pope: Cardinal, let me tell you how great I think this is. This is magnificent work on your part, really is. Just...I don't know...ALL meat? The miracle of the fish was one of Jesus' biggies, right? And even the Lord himself would have gone for the Ciopinno that they serve down at Guiseppe's every Friday. Am I right about that, guys?

All: Hurumph, harumph, harumph...

Cardinal Giovanni: Give the Pontiff, harumph!

Cardinal Frederico: Harumph!

Pope: Why don't we just touch it up a little. We'll limit ourselves to seafood on Fridays during Lent! There it is. Done.

Roberto: (rolling eyes) Yes, father, during the holy period of Lent, we shall share in the suffering of Jesus Christ our Lord, experiencing for ourselves the pain of having his body crucified, by eating only shrimp cocktail, crab dip with artichoke, grilled calamari with olives, baked anchovies with a light lemon/oil glaze, and polenta with a clam sauce.

Pope: Don't forget pecan encrusted Salmon over fetuccini...with a nice alfredo sauce, I love that. Now's there's a celebration fit for our Lord. thank you, Cardinal.

A happy and reverent holy season to all of our Christian brethren.

Live, love, and laugh,

Irreverend Steve