In these early days of Lent, we can get to feeling pretty holy. The bloom is not yet off the rose. It’s the first week, and our souls are filled to the brim with a bracing combination of pious fervor and healthy humility.
But just how holy are you, really? Here’s a handy quiz to help you keep track of your spiritual state.
1. It’s Ash Wednesday Mass, and it’s so crowded with novelty-seekers that you and your kids can’t find a seat. Do you:
(a) Praise God that you may, all unknowing, be witness to the miracle as the Holy Spirit plants the seeds of faith in the hearts of your fallen-away brethren?
(b) Force yourself to smile and nod at all the strangers busily texting their friends while lounging in what is, after all, not technically your pew?
(c) Wait until there’s a loud hymn to hiss at your husband, “THAT’S the hag who almost backed over the kids in the parking lot! We’ll take her spot in a minute—she’s only here for the ashes, you watch.”
2. You’re fasting. Do you:
(a) Send your entire food budget to Calcutta, and subsist only on whatever moisture you can lick of the walls of the tomb of your patron saint, the Venerable Scrupe?
(b) Eat two small meals which, put together, would not equal one meal, and then eat a third, normal meal?
(c) Eat two small meals which, put together, would not equal one meal, and then eat six gallons of ravioli, nine large hunks of olive oil-drenched garlic bread, and a mountain of salad with enough creamy caesar to float a battleship? And then some more garlic bread? And then some MORE garlic bread? And stay up until midnight, so you can have seconds on ravioli?
3. You made it to Mass on Friday, and guess what? You got suckered again: it’s the folk Mass. Do you:
(a) Remember an uplifting article you read once and use the opportunity to recall our unworthiness before God?
(b) Do your best to sing along with the less-ludicrous music, and offer up the rest?
(c) Briefly consider doing a little extracurricular work at the local Santería club, so you can lay down some bad juju on that BANJO PLAYER. I mean, for the love of mike, a BANJO?
4. It’s the first Friday in Lent, and you’ve already failed several times at your chosen penance. Do you:
(a) Beg God to reveal to you even more of your flaws before you die, because, while you have already earned all the indulgences you need for yourself, you could use this opportunity to start on the souls of your co-workers?
(b) Sigh, pray for mercy and strength, and try, try again?
(c) Blame your stupid jerk husband?
If you answered mostly (a), then you are pretty durn holy. What are you doing here reading this twaddle, when you could be converting your old socks into scapulars for the homeless?
If you answered mostly (b), then you’re an American Catholic. Hang in there, friend—you’re doing a good job.
If you answered mostly (c), then you are Simcha Fisher.
In conclusion, I would like to say: Please quit sending me emails saying, “You are an inspiration to me.” Unless you want to be inspired about how to eat more garlic bread.