With Ash Wednesday behind them, online friends of Hollywood screenwriter Barbara Nicolosi braced themselves for what has become a Lenten tradition -- fasting-day manifestos from the witty former nun.
"It's a Friday of Lent dear Catholic brethren. And you know what that means," she wrote on Facebook. "Corporate Sacrifice Power Activate! No meat. No braised oxtail. No venison medallions. No veal short ribs. No rabbit sausage. NO MEAT. No muscovy duck. No turkey jerky. No kangaroo loin fillets. No meat. No elk flank steaks. No Wagyu beef. No chicken Kiev. No meat. No meat. No meat. NO MEAT."
In case anyone missed the point, Nicolosi has strong convictions about the tendency these days among Sunday Mass Catholics to assume that centuries of traditions about fasting and the spiritual disciplines of Lent have been erased from the church's teachings and canon law.
Yes, skipping that Friday cheeseburger may seem like a symbolic gesture for many Americans, she said when reached by telephone. Nevertheless, these kinds of small sacrifices add up, and they can help believers focus on bigger questions about this life and the life to come.
"The attitude among way too many people these days is that there's no real sin in anything, anywhere, anymore," said Nicolosi, who leads The Story Institute at Azusa Pacific University. "Everyone has taken in the idea that God loves them and then decided that the whole idea of sin and repentance and sacrifice and punishment and hell just doesn't make any sense. ...
"It's like there are no bare minimum membership requirements for being a Catholic and there's no bare minimum requirements for Lent. There's no eternal accountability. Everyone thinks they're basically OK and that everything they want is basically OK."