When I was in Afghanistan, I figured I had already given up enough so I just made a commitment to go to Mass every Friday. Trouble was the priest wasn't available for most of Lent so I satisfied myself with doing a rosary each Friday. I had just learned to do the rosary while in Afghanistan anyway.
I was going to do the same thing this year, but I'm pretty sure the priest will be available this time. I got a late start because Greek Easter this year is 27 April, more than a month after "regular" Easter (23 March) and I'm all messed up. My Fridays have been messed up as well so I've decided to read the mass readings everyday instead.
What are you giving up or doing extra?
I've recently heard a lot of people who are trying to do something extra instead of giving something up.
Do you think abstaining from something or making an extra effort is better? Is the whole thing a waste of time?
I think it's useful either way. It makes you stop and think, which is; I believe the real value in not eating meat on Fridays during Lent. It makes you alter your regular daily routine and examine what you are doing and why. It gets to psyche and who we are really. I think it's valuable even for non-Catholics.
The Greek Orthodox and presumably all Eastern Orthodox observe Lent slightly differently. Firstly, it starts on a Sunday, not a Wednesday. Also, they abstain from all meat AND dairy products on Wednesdays and Fridays for all of Lent. They call this abstinence, "fasting." During Holy Week (the week from Palm Sunday until Easter) they "fast" every day. They don't give up anything else, but I think the reminder and the chance to think about things greater than the everyday is still there.
For those of you who don't know, Catholics start Lent on Ash Wednesday and it runs until Easter. You are supposed to give something up (traditionally) and you are required to abstain from eating meat on Fridays and Ash Wednesday. You are also required to fast (as in not eat more than one meal) on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
I would be very interested in unusual Lenten observations (like giving up dancing at clubs, which an employee of mine vows each year and then can't seem to keep it) and the number of people that choose what I think are the most common items to give up. Please leave comments and vote on the poll.