Maybe in some places. This
piece from Crunchy Cons is rather disturbing.
I'm not saying I think we should all wear hairshirts and all that and go back to fasting everyday or whatever. But I do think that the penitential nature of Lent is one of (it not is sole) defining characteristic. We need a little deprivation, a little simplification, to get to the heart of things every once in awhile. Lent provides this yearly annual renewal. It is a spiritual springtime, a time of growth and reawakening. This can't come without some sacrifice, some "winter" of the soul. So give me the ashes and all that. I can't fast (I'm diabetic) but I can devote more time to God like all the rest of you. And I can certainly abstain from meat.
Speaking of Lent, what are you giving up? What spiritual practices are you adding? Does your church do anything special for Lent? Here's what I've got going on:
--Joining a Faith Sharing Group at my parish.
--Reading from Magnificat's Lenten companion
--Reading from Lent and Easter with Pope John Paul II --great book. They also have them from different saints and such, and they do them for Advent/Christmas, too.
--No meat on Fridays, like y'all. :)
--Soup Suppers at my church on Wednesdays, where different church groups make soups for the parishioners. Donations go to Operation Rice Bowl. It's a great way to make a Lenten sacrifice (both by eating a "simpler" meal and donating the money, it doesn't have to be much), and, practically, it's right before my choir rehearsals. :) So a lot of choir members have dinner together at the soup supper and then go rehearse, which is fun, because ofte they bring their families and the kids are soooo cute. :)