I had to laugh when I read my nephew Tim's Facebook posting.
It arrived during a Friday night in Lent when Catholics are supposed to abstain from eating meat. Tim said he was waiting until after midnight so he could enjoy some chicken nuggets.
When the clock indicated Friday had turned to Saturday, Tim would be freed from his fast and could eat those nuggets with a clear conscience. Apparently, he had found a Lenten loophole.
Tim also lamented having given up soda for Lent because the task had proved too difficult.
Helpful aunt that I am, I posted back that perhaps he should have just given up Coke or Pepsi and then he'd still be able to enjoy Sprite, root beer, ginger ale, Dr Pepper, etc.
Having grown up Catholic, I know all about Lenten loopholes. I've even heard of folks giving up red wine, but conveniently not white wine (although I've never done this personally).
Giving up that which we desire isn't an easy feat for anyone.
In 2006, when St. Patrick's Day occurred on a Friday in Lent, local Catholics were granted a dispensation so that they could partake of corned beef with their cabbage and join in the St. Pat's Day celebrations.
In 2017, when the holiday again falls on a Friday in Lent, you can bet many Catholic bishops will be bending the rules yet again.
What makes Lent easier for me to swallow is that back in my young adult days I was introduced to the idea that perhaps Lent might be better spent in service to others rather than in fasting and sacrifice. Sure, Christ gave the ultimate sacrifice on the cross, but he also led a life of service, feeding the poor, healing the sick, even washing the feet of his friends. I came to believe that giving to others in some way might be better than denying myself some treat, especially whenI generally failed at that task.
As one idea for Lent, I've often joined friends in the Good Friday Walk.
This year's walk is this Friday, April 6, with registration from 7:30 until 9:30 a.m. at St. John the Evangelist School in Beverly (Rear 552 Cabot St.). The minimum pledge is $20.
The annual event, now in its 33rd year, raises money for North Shore families, assisting them with rent, utility bills and other needs. I like the fact that more than 90 percent of the funds raised are distributed locally.
The 10.5-mile walk along Beverly's coast is gorgeous, especially when the weather cooperates.
There are stations all along the way, providing hot and cold drinks and treats to sustain the walkers, and a nice lunch is served at St. John's Episcopal Church in Beverly Farms.
It is a fun way to get some exercise while being out in the community and running into old friends.
I'm always amazed by the number of high school kids and even younger kids who band together and walk that day, giving up whatever else they have going on, to raise money for a good cause.
And I'm humbled by the older individuals for whom that long walk is a real sacrifice.
For me, though, if I'm going to be honest, I might classify the event as another Lenten loophole — something I enjoy doing but can also chalk up to my desire to work for a worthy charity.
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Mary Alice Cookson, a Beverly resident, is a freelance writer and former editor of a national family magazine. She has written previously for the opinion pages.