3 Weird Things I’m Doing On Top Of My (Secret) Lenten Penance This Year

*Sigh* It’s going to be a long Lent.

It’s the Lenten season, and each of us will make a personal sacrifice of some sort. I’m not divulging what I am seriously sacrificing this time around. Maybe I’ll disclose it later, perhaps even years from now if I’m still hammering away on a keyboard.

After seven years, I’m still learning my way through Lent. I’ll probably still be learning right up until I’m receiving Last Rites, though we don’t call it that anymore. I only just now read the USCCB’s Pastoral Statement On Penance And Abstinence. It was published back in 1966, but I never would have known that if I wouldn’t have gone looking for it.

Read it now to prevent being an ignoramus like me.

Before I discovered that educational document, I decided to do a few things on top of my top secret personal sacrifice this year. Call me a glutton for punishment.

#1. For my daily beer, I am only going to drink India Pale Ales during Lent.

Oh, goody.

Oh, goody.

I’m a beer lover, people. Long time readers know this well, while you first timers are hearing it right from the horse’s mouth. But there is one type of beer that I really loathe, and its initials are IPA.

I hate ’em. Can’t stand ’em. Not a fan. They remind me of unsweetened grapefruit juice, and though I like grapefruit juice I’d be lying if I said I like it as a beer.

Therefore there will be one IPA drank per man, per day except on Feast Days or on the Lord’s Day. Pray for me, will you? I hate this stuff.

#2. I rebalanced a portion of my IRA into the worst performing mutual fund I could find.

I’m a former stock broker, remember? One of the things I learned while plying that trade was doing something called rebalancing. I may have mentioned it somewhere before. Lots of folks honor it in theory, but avoid it in practice.

Some experts recommend you engage in this action quarterly, annually, sporadically, or not at all. You pare back your winners, while buying some losers, see? Easy-peasy. I figured I’d do it on Ash Wednesday this year, with the added bonus of rolling 10% of my retirement portfolio into the investment vehicle that has absolutely been killed over the last 5 years. You know, while the general stock market has been setting new records without leaving a skid mark.

Painful graph courtesy of  Yahoo! Finance.

This loser is called the Vanguard Precious Metals and Mining Fund*. Precious Metals equity is notorious for being volatile. So much so, that the practitioners of the dark art of portfolio management recommend folks put no more than 5% of their holdings into this asset class. I doubled that to 10% because its easier to live with than self-flagellation. Besides, it’s been beaten down so far, and for so long, maybe it’s bound to go up. Regression to the mean, etc., etc.

Hope springs eternal.

Last, but not least…

You know what I like about this photograph? It’s in the Public Domain.

#3. I’m giving up the “Like” button on Facebook.

Perhaps you’ll enjoy this post. Maybe you’ll think it’s swell. You know what you should do? You should share it with your friends. Heck, you should share it with strangers too. Share it with errbody! And the folks you share it with? They might even “like” it.

Of the three weird things I’m doing this year, this one has been the least important, and yet it’s the hardest to implement. It’s almost like (pun intended) we’ve been conditioned to “like” things just because we can. Hate what the Supreme Court is doing? Like a post that bashes the Supreme Court! Nothing will change, but hey, you’ll feel like you did something anyway. You have cast your vote.

That neat post your 454th Facebook friend just posted? Like it! Who knows? They might like something you post one day. Wouldn’t that be special? It would. And you can tally all the likes you’ve gotten at the end of the day, and go to sleep satisfied.

Just after I decided I was giving up likes for Lent, I liked one of my friends’ posts. Grrrrr! As it turns out, this really is hard. I’m going to go with using pithy sayings, or maybe I’ll use photographs like the one up yonder. But I will not push that “like” button, I swear (said in the best Kenneth Branagh, as Henry V, voice I can muster).

Lent on, and keep smiling (and praying, fasting, and giving alms).


* Ahem. Don’t even pretend that I’m giving you investment advice. Don’t make me bore you with a bunch of disclaimers. You’re on your own. 


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