By Mary Gulino
Even though New York City is only about one-third Catholic, apparently all of its inhabitants have fully committed to the Lenten season this year, as evidenced by the fact that people are no longer participating in any activities, across the board. What a sudden shift!
Typically, during the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday, a practicing Catholic chooses to make some abstention, in order to focus on one’s relationship with God. The average person might abstain from dessert, or meat, or alcohol—something that requires conscious effort but doesn’t totally disrupt one’s life. It’s very intriguing, then, that literally every person in the city decided to give up so many things all at once. NY is just intense like that I guess!
For the past few weeks, city goers have gone without many leisure activities, including going out to bars and attending concerts. Presumably, they have made this decision so that they can utilize these 40 days to reflect and pray. Maybe someone should alert all the citizens of NY that they can keep their baseline normal routines, and God will probably understand. But hey, to each her own. If you need to be really stringent in order to feel religiously immersed, more power to you!
Keeping theme with the austere mood that Lent is supposed to carry, people in NY are also indulging in way fewer materialistic behaviors. If you think about it, it’s pretty cool that people are working on their spiritual, rather than cosmetic, maintenance. But shopping trends are so low that every store has shuttered its doors for the time being. Okay, that’s um, definitely an unfortunate byproduct. But still, God’s doling out bonus Heaven points for everyone this year! I just hope the economy can return to business as usual when Easter rolls around and people decide to indulge in fun things again.
Perhaps most surprisingly, people are also abstaining from going to work. Not sure where God stands on this one, but better safe than sorry I guess? Similarly, people are abstaining from other activities that seem like they’d be very neutral in God’s eyes—things like attending libraries and using mass transit. Depriving yourself of these public services has gotta be missing the mark and disrupting society more than we need. I don’t mean to detract at all from your super hardcore Lent. You know what, ignore me, I haven’t been to mass in a while. I probably don’t know what I’m talking about.
The city has certainly taken on a very different, more somber mood since everyone’s Lenten practice went into effect. But we’re in the home stretch, now. Less than a week left! As the city sidewalks remain eerily vacant, I’m just grateful for all the happy people who must be indoors praying. After all, there’s no other plausible reason that the whole world would have gone so quiet all at once.
Image: New York Post