Showing posts with label Lent. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lent. Show all posts

Friday, April 1, 2022

It’s Iimi! Ascetics’ Aesthetics

The fourth Friday in Lent happens to be the day before Ramadan. This leads to a discussion of the different practices and the meanings behind them. Kismetta learns that in some ways, the two are similar in ways she thought they’d be different. But in other ways, they are different where she expected them to be similar. Prayers are said for Paula’s mother. Are they effective for someone who is skeptical at best?

Post Comic Note: The program I use to create It’s Iimi! is limited in what characters wear and how they look due to limited body types (there’s one female body type and two male). The skin color default is “anime style” Caucasian. Skin color can be changed, but it doesn’t always look natural (Chela was one of my few successes there).

The reason I bring this up is: According to Pew Research, the makeup of Muslims in America runs as follows: 63% of Muslims in America born abroad. Racial makeup: 41% White, 20% Black, 28% Middle Eastern, 8% Hispanic, 3% Other. 80% of Imams come from outside of America. 75% of Mosques have a dominant ethnic group. The skin color choices I used for this mosque reflects this report. 

So, to make the mosque in this and future comics, out of every ten characters, I probably have to make
Four of them white, two black, three Middle Eastern, and one of Hispanic or Other to capture this ratio. And, with the limitations of ComiPo, therein lies the problem. 

Unfortunately, due to the limits of the ComiPo program, some of the non-European members of the mosque will look off. Please keep in mind that none of the characters are intended to be portrayed as a racial stereotype.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

What Did We Achieve This Lent? A Reflection

As I write this, it is Holy Saturday. Easter begins with tonight’s vigil. It’s certainly been a strange Lent. For the most part, Catholics have been unable to attend Mass or receive the Sacraments since the Second Week of Lent. It is a privation, even though it is not something unique in the history of the Church. But it is a privation that the virtue of prudence dictates. So, now that the 40 days of Lent draw to a close, we need to ask ourselves what we accomplished with this time in the Desert (cf. Matthew 4:1-11). Did we use our social isolation as a time of turning back to the Lord? (μετανοια—metanoia) or did we turn in ourselves out of boredom and self-pity?


I won’t detail how I did. I figure if I did better than you, I’ll sound like I’m boasting. If I did worse, it opens me up to derision. I’ll just say that I did some of the things I set out to do, but not all of them. It’s the kind of thing that is common among Christians because we are sinners, like everybody else. That’s not an excuse of course. But however we fell short should serve to remind us that we are constantly in need of God’s grace. And we should constantly strive to be faithful.


Understanding this, we should consider the parable of the Merciless Servant (Matthew 18:21-35). We look to God to forgive us our failings, and probably we haven’t handled our Coronavirus Lent as well as we would want. So, remembering what we want of Our Lord, we should remember to forgive others who fell short during Lent as well.


And of course we should remember that turning back to God isn’t something we only do at Lent. If we become aware of a sin after Lent is over, we should of course turn back to God once we are made aware of our failing. The Christian life is a constant turning back to God. If we think we’re saved because of what we do, or that we’re saved regardless of what we do, we’ve grossly missed the point of how we need to approach our life in God.


Someday, this quarantine will end. When it does, we’ll need to interact with this world directly, not over social media. After all of our complaining about isolation, how will we respond to this restoration? Will we respond with gratitude? Or will we take it for granted, returning to our same old bad behaviors of the past?


Let’s consider our own bad habits of the past in this regard, and pray for God to deliver us from our bad habits, while striving to cooperate with His Grace.

Monday, March 9, 2020

On Those Who Sneer At the Lenten Practices of Others

Is this the manner of fasting I would choose, 
a day to afflict oneself? 
To bow one’s head like a reed, 
and lie upon sackcloth and ashes? 
Is this what you call a fast, 
a day acceptable to the Lord? 

Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose: 
releasing those bound unjustly, 
untying the thongs of the yoke; 
Setting free the oppressed, 
breaking off every yoke? 

Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry, 
bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house; 
Clothing the naked when you see them, 
and not turning your back on your own flesh? 

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, 
and your wound shall quickly be healed; 
Your vindication shall go before you, 
and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. (Isaiah 58:5–8)
Among anti-Catholic and anti-Francis Catholic critics, I see a similar kind of sneering going on, even though the mindsets of these groups are diametrically opposed. The similarities come through how they deride the penitential practices of Catholics. Either they mock the individual sacrifice as “shallow” or they mock something serious on the grounds that people shouldn’t treat sins as something you “give up for Lent.” And if a person should resolve to do something for Lent, the response is a mocking “well, why didn’t you do that earlier?”

It is true that some people can be shallow about a Lenten sacrifice, either making it so light or with so many exceptions as to be virtually meaningless. People can focus on giving up something and become unbearable to live with. People can wrongly approach “giving up sins for Lent” by thinking that they will take them up again after Easter. Some people take up practices for the wrong reason (“I’ll cut back on food to lose weight.”) Such people do need to be gently corrected.

But too often, the people who sneer seem to miss the point. When we give something up, or perform a practice, we do so to turn away from our past way of living and back to God. So, if giving up a certain pleasure helps us to say no to ourself when it leads us away from God, it is a good thing. If doing a good thing helps us to form practices that serve God the rest of the year, that is a good thing. And if we remember that “Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NABRE), then Lent is a good time to repent of the sins we should have previously turned away from but have not managed to escape, with the intention of staying away (with God’s grace) to stay away after Lent ends.

We should keep in mind that not everyone is able to do the same things. A diabetic is not able to fast in the same way as one who is healthy. A person who loves meat will be harder hit by the rules of abstinence than the person who is vegan. The mother of young children might find it harder to say a decade of the Rosary than the unmarried do to say the whole thing. And a person who tries to use Lent as a time to try again to reject the sin he commits over and over out of love for God is trying to do more than the person who spends his time denouncing others for sins he has never been tempted by.

So, when we see a person approaching Lent differently than we think it should be done, let us not sneer or judge. The person might be shallow, or mistaken. But the person might be struggling with a trial greater than we can imagine.