3/6/2009: Lenten Sacrifice?

Today I intended to get a couple things done – first, we needed haircuts, second, we needed food. We started the morning out by feeding our cute kids:

Then we walked down to Freedom Market to a hair salon called, strangely enough, Irene Hair Boutique. Vincent was excellent whilst getting his hair trimmed; John, not so much. I was excellent too – I got a shampoo/condition/head massage and trim for under R100. Not bad. Mary got her hair trimmed as well.

By now you may be asking, “why the Lenten Sacrifice title?” Well, I’ll tell you. It has always bothered me that American Catholics are required by the USCCB (our council of bishops) to abstain from meat on Fridays. The call to sacrifice doesn’t bother me, nor does the call to fast – these are things that should happen in any healthy spiritual relationship.

What bothers me is that the vast majority (hopefully not, but I’m a cynic) of Catholics use the opportunity to go out to eat at Red Lobster, or go to the store and spend ten bucks on a nice piece of salmon to put on the braai (grill), rather than eating beans and donating the money they save by not buying meat to the poor. We give up meat to be in solidarity with those who do not have money to eat, much less buy meat. So, that being said, I decided to look up the whole “giving up meat’ thing and found that perfectly acceptable substitutes are acts of charity or other acts of piety.

I didn’t go down this path for self-glorification or because of a holier-than-thou attitude; rather, I know that I participate fully in the hypocrisy of abstaining from meat and then overspending on nice cuts of fish. I’m therefore choosing not to participate in something that makes me even more of a hypocrite. Plus, I’m in South Africa – the rules are different here. I employ two people, both of whom travel three hours one-way to get here to work, one every day (Lydia), the other every weekend (Philemon). They stay in Mpumalanga and both make less than R3000 per month. They are the primary breadwinners for their families back home.

Reflecting on this, I smacked myself on the forehead in realization that, instead of spending 60 bucks on taking the family out to eat, perhaps we should – God forbid! – eat beans at home or go someplace cheap, and use the excess money for buying food for these two wonderful people to take back to their families. So, if you can ignore my self-aggrandizement, please consider that twenty bucks can help feed two families (bread, snacks, 2kg bags of chicken, food for the three hour journey):

Were Lydia and Philemon overwhelmed? Sure. Do I feel like an idiot for not recognizing sooner, before Lent, that there are needy people under my own roof? You bet.

Anyway, there’s my long rant. Hey, it’s been a while! By the way, I went shopping twice because L&P leave early on Fridays to get in queue for taxis, so I couldn’t be sure that we would be back in time to get them the food. So, we went shopping for them then went shopping for us. The kids were worn out afterwards (John is pretending if you didn’t notice the smirk on his face).

So, to complete my utter hyprocrisy, I still took the family out to eat, but we went to a cheap place and ordered cheap food (pizzas). I accomplished my goal of halving my budgeted out-to-eat funds with L&P, so I’m only half a hypocrite. Oh well.

Vin decided to help them notice where people had dropped utensils through the cracks:

Milkshakes look like treats but actually cost almost the same as a can of soda, so…

After our long day of my ranting, I sat down to relax and play a little World of Warcraft. Sarah is half-mast here, about to fall asleep in my arms. Pretty funny.

4 responses to “3/6/2009: Lenten Sacrifice?”

  1. But we over 14-years-of-age still abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent, as per the non-proportionalistic precepts of the church, right?

    As for being half-a-hypocrite, does that make you a “hippo?” Tee hee!

    All kidding aside, the decision to cut-back and share the difference with Lydia and Philemon is righteous. Very good, indeed. We applaud you and your family. Now…what about after Easter?

  2. I like you walking your readers through several days….and places. And believe me, I’ve given out your blogspot to a few people!

  3. I’m abstaining as a personal choice but I removed the obligation from my home flock, at least while we’re in South Africa.

    Hippo now, but wait until you see me in September! 🙂

    Still thinking about after Easter and beyond; it is almost impossible to continue the ministry after we leave unless we have something set up here to do it, as they live in “informal settlements” and therefore have no postal address to send money or food. Waiting on that situation to become more clear!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *