As the twenty-first century has progressed the Catholic Church’s grasp on the Irish psyche has become increasingly more tentative.  With mass attendances dwindling and the ideologies of the church suffering not one but two major defeats in recent referendums, the argument could be made that Ireland has become a wholly secular society.


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However, we pale skinned Paddies are creatures of habit. When it comes to major events in the calendar we can’t resist reverting to type and letting the inner catholic come out in us. Occurrences that fall under this cloak include Christmas, St Patrick’s Day and Easter as well as weddings, wakes, communions, confirmations and christenings. The phenomenon that is Lent can be included here as well.


 Lent is as big a part of Irish culture as spuds, stout and salmon. While it was once seen as a time for fasting, prayer and misery and still strikes fear into the heart of children when you ask them what they are giving up, it is now almost like a quasi-new year’s resolution where people give up bad habits, try new things and try to be better people in general.


 Unfortunately, like New Year’s resolutions, the success rate of Lent leaves a lot to be desired as people struggling to keep up with the high standards they set themselves but if you know anything about Irish society, we love making a pig’s ear of things.








Like all good things Lent can be broken down into five stages. They are as follows:
1. Denial
You try to tell yourself that you don’t need that chocolate digestive . Its been two days since you last had one and you try to convince yourself that you don’t need one… and you almost believe it. In reality, there is nothing your heart desires more than this golden, chocolatey piece of biscuiteering brilliance. The heart wants what the heart wants, and your heart wants that biscuit.
 







2. Anger
After the short-lived satisfaction of inhaling the aforementioned biscuit, your mood changes to one of anger. Not only could you not last the prescribed 40 days and nights, but you also didn’t even last 40 hours. If Jesus had your will power he’d be Satan’s right-hand man. You feeling like an idiot and rightly so.




3. Bargaining
After being dealt a blow, you do what all good boxers do and scramble. There’s still nearly six weeks left of Lent, surely it won’t make any difference if you start now. But you love biscuits so God damn much. You think to yourself  “what other treats haven’t I eaten in the last two few weeks?” You end up making a deal to stay off something completely ludicrous like toffee popcorn, orange flavoured jelly and caviar.


4. Depression
After the fleeting hope that you might actually keep your Lenten promise this year has subsided, you realise you are all hope is lost for this year and you are in fact a bad Catholic.
The world becomes a darker place, holy communion just doesn’t taste as sweet anymore, you stop singing along in mass and don’t get the same kick out of going to confession. Eventually, you only go to mass five times a week, not seven, and turn to heretical practices such as bingo and bridge. You don’t know who you are anymore.

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5. Acceptance
After weeks of beating yourself up about your inability to keep Lent, you make your peace with the fact that it is just not for you. You still feel a twinge of guilt every time you eat a cookie (but ultimately always still eat it).
Easter Sunday eventually arrives and it feels like a cross has been lifted off your shoulders.

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