Giving it up for Lent: How can we give more?


Many of us Episcopalians and Catholics are considering what to give up for the 40 days of Lent. It's a time when we remember the gustatory sacrifices made by Jesus in the desert, so naturally the most popular sacrifices are food-related; in past years I've given up sugar, alcohol and red meat. But this year, aren't we already all giving up so much? I rarely buy alcohol any more, as I just can't afford it, and my meat is portioned carefully; my family of five only gets a few pounds of meat products on the table each week ("condiment, not main ingredient" one food writer said).

Can you give any more? After much thought, I've decided to give up eating out this Lent. I won't kid you: this hasn't been a winter of many extravagant meals. But every time my husband or I get a much-needed paycheck, we've been reverting to the boom-and-bust mentality of getting pizza, some treats at a coffee shop for the kids, a few things from the deli for a quick lunch, or a rare meal out together before we start paying bills and buying groceries. It's easy to do when we're living check-to-check and not pay much attention to; in the "bust" periods, we regret it (and honestly, our meals at home are almost always better).

It will be a sacrifice that's good for my finances and my spiritual discipline. Frugality 'R us. In this economy, do you have anything left to give for Lent?