Ramadan, Passover and Lent all call for sacrifice from their respective observers, and let’s face facts they’re not easy. If they were, there wouldn’t be special times of the year. Yesterday, the lattermost period began.

With Ash Wednesday now in the rearview mirror, there are 39 more days of soul searching for Christians. Abstaining from some of the best vices certainly takes a toll, but a little good planning can go a long way.

For the record, I am not a Catholic. I didn’t realize until I turned 13 that a priest telling someone to do 10 ‘Hail Marys” didn’t have any real connection to football. But I realized that I already forgot what my New Year’s resolution was and decided that I’d use the God-fearing part of my personality to become a better person.

There are seven cardinal sins out there avarice, envy, gluttony, lust, pride, sloth and wrath waiting to be suppressed, and each one merits its own game plan. And even though Lent is already on its second day, you can still get on board. Here’s a guide to getting through to Easter:

Avarice seems to be the watchword these days, both on Capitol Hill and on the floors of stock exchanges worldwide. The Gordon Gekko era of ‘Greed is good” no longer passes muster. Fight it! No more stealing Tasty Cakes from the Pit just because you have a lousy meal plan. Stop pretending you don’t owe your friend $30 for lunch and that 12-pack of Keystone Light. Get a job like the rest of… OK, well, fair point. Just budget your money.

Set up an automatic transfer of money into your checking account and don’t exceed it. But don’t be overly liberal you know when you’re getting greedy.

To combat envy, recite the following phrase to yourself everyday: ‘I am content with what I have.” Do not covet thy best friend’s girlfriend. Delete ‘Jesse’s Girl” from your iPod for the duration of Lent. Actually, for this one, just delete that song permanently. If you’re instead coveting a thing note the distinction between women and objects, fellas remember that some stuff just appears fun, and that once you have it, it’s kind of a letdown.

Food, however, is not one of those things. Food is delicious. And because of that, the most common Lent sacrifices are either pop or chocolate just what Coca-Cola and Hershey executives want in the middle of a recession but you have to actually depend on these things to make a legitimate sacrifice; don’t use Lent as an excuse to lose weight.

Perhaps abandon drinking more than a beer a night. Or creating a realistic food schedule you can still have that quesadilla, but the pound of chocolate malt balls crosses the line.

Lust might rank a close second to gluttony considering our environment.

There are a lot of hot co-eds out there, and winter clothing doesn’t last forever. Lust distracts the average mind at all hours of the day, keeping us awake at night thinking about that ‘special someone.”

Inflicting damage on the hormone-producing areas of your body will help, but the damage doesn’t heal itself when Lent ends.

Instead, summon up some chutzpah and ask the person of your dreams out to coffee Starbucks doesn’t count.

Pride cometh before the fall, but it’s also one of the most confusing traits. We are told to ‘Be thou not proud,” but also to ‘take pride in who you are.” Make up your mind, colloquial sayings!

Just know where the line is between conviction and arrogance. A good writer, we’re told, avoids using the words ‘I think,” because the writing seems more assertive without them.
But that preface might make you come across as open-minded, which, ostensibly, is a good thing to be. I chose this sin to combat for Lent, which is why I want to clarify again that this article is merely a list of suggestions, that might very well not work.

I’m not pretending to know a thing about Catholicism, and I’m sorry if I somehow criticized Ramadan or Passover or God and if IdidIamsosorryiamsosorryiamsosorryandwowitishardtotypewithoutusingthespacebar.

Also, this will be the only 40 days of my life when I’m willing to admit that, occasionally, there are better comics in the paper than mine, and that I’m not so proud to admit that I liked ‘Love, Actually.” Now, let’s move on.

We all know how cool sloths are and wish on more than one occasion a week that we could just hang from trees all day. But that doesn’t fly at college. The easiest sacrifice to make in order to combat laziness is to sacrifice skipping class.

We all do it some for better reasons than others but unless you’re lying on a surgeon’s table or studying for a test you have the very next class period, you’re just making excuses.

Also, answer your e-mails. Even after Lent, answer your e-mails.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but a man scorned isn’t much peachier. Taking deep breaths occasionally helps.

And as my parents, brother, dogs and work superiors know full well, guilt trips get you a lot further than unleashing pent-up rage.

Everyone gets angry, but channel that rage into something inanimate try beating the hell out of a pillow using a baseball bat or, say, crutches. Cooking also works.

By now, those practicing Lent have probably chosen something to sacrifice, but the key isn’t in giving up a vice the key is in having a legitimate solution. And perhaps, come Easter, you might find you’re a changed person.

Brenneman is a member of the class of 2009.



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