Cheating on Lenten sacrifice no sin

For those who do sacrifice to get closer to God, what matters is effort, not perfection, said the Rev. Michael Watson of St. Andrew Parish, a Catholic church in Upper Arlington.

“Because we’re prone to human weakness from time to time, it doesn’t mean the end of the world,” he said.

Slipping up is not a sin unless the action you committed is itself a sin, he said.

So if you swore off alcohol and had one cocktail, that’s not a sin. But if you had five and got drunk, you probably committed the sin of immoderation, whether it’s Lent or not.

People who slip sometimes tell the Rev. Jerry Rodenfels of the Church of the Resurrection in New Albany, as if they have to confess their misdeeds.

He tells them “not to worry. It’s not a sin,” he said. But they still feel bad.

“For those of us who are older, there’s something instilled in us called Catholic guilt,” Rodenfels said, laughing.

Churchgoers also debate whether they can “cheat” on Sundays, because those days technically aren’t included in the 40 days of Lent.

The priests say you can. Sunday is, as Rodenfels called it, a “free” day.

That’s because Sunday is the weekly joyful celebration of Christ’s resurrection, said Leo Madden, a professor of theology at Ohio Dominican University.

“It is incompatible for a period of time marked by sacrifice to occur at the same time,” Madden said. “Technically speaking, Sunday is not a day of Lent.”

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