Every year about this time, I begin yearning for Lent. It can't get here fast enough for me. I always feel as if I'm hung all about with rags and in need of washing, and I can't begin to get cleaned up until Ash Wednesday.
You would think that I could just go ahead and get a head start on things, but it just doesn't work. It seems to me, and I'm pretty sure I'm correct in thinking so, that the season of Lent enables us to do things we could never do before. Suddenly, I can go without salt, or get up early to pray, or quit playing Free Cell, or all sorts of things that sound good like a good idea, but never quite pan out in Ordinary Time. Things that seemed impossible before become almost easy. I'm not saying that it's easy to not eat salt, but that it's easier to persevere in not eating salt. (You can see that I'm being haunted by the specter of salt-less days.)
There is one thing that is really difficult for me in Lent, and that is meatless Fridays. This is peculiar because: a) I actually like meatless meals and it's not unusual for me to go without meat more than one day a week, and b) I hardly ever eat meat on Fridays anyway. Still, Fridays in Lent seem to come with their own penitential burden. For five days a week for eight years, Bill and I passed by a restaurant that was cooking barbeque on our way home. On 253 days a year, we sailed past without even noticing. Then came the first Friday in Lent and we would both say at the same moment, "Oooh, that smells sooo good," and thus it went through Good Friday.
I'll also add--just to make your Lent a little more punishing--that while I was looking on the USCCB website for the officially worded rules about fast and abstinence for the bulletin, I found a Q&A page that went counter to what I've heard about Sundays in Lent in recent years.
Apart from the prescribed days of fast and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and the days of abstinence every Friday of Lent, Catholics have traditionally chosen additional penitential practices for the whole Time of Lent. These practices are disciplinary in nature and often more effective if they are continuous, i.e., kept on Sundays as well. That being said, such practices are not regulated by the Church, but by individual conscience.Try not to hate me. Actually, it doesn't say that you must give up those things on Sunday, but still I will have it in the back of mind nagging at me.
In case anyone is interested, there is a link to the meditations on the Stations of the Cross that I wrote in 2012 on the sidebar.