Not to get my rant on, but here's a homily/column/reflection topic that I'm getting rather tired of hearing:
"This Lent, instead of giving something up..."
You fill in the blank with any number of good things: "...try being a better person" or "...do something nice for someone" or some other such thing.
See, it was always my impression that you were already supposed to be doing those types of things -- especially in Lent -- in addition to fasting. It kind of falls under that fasting AND almsgiving type of thing. In the words of the old advertising campaign for Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis: "Why not both?"
Lent is a time that calls us to prayer, sacrifice and acts of charity. I have no doubt that many people find giving up sweets easier than helping their neighbor, and are quite content to do just the former. So I'm fine with homilies and columns that remind us of the orientation of sacrifice: to not only recall (and join) the suffering of the Lord during his time on Earth but also to teach us discipline. And when we grow more perfect in discipline, the avenues to virtue should open up to us more readily. Sacrifice open only to loving God without loving neighbor is a choked sacrifice -- so gear me up and count me as ready to hear a homily about how we mustn't forget almsgiving in the midst of our Lenten sacrifices.
But please, don't ask me to hold the fasting in favor of acts of charities. Those two things aren't enemies -- let's hear about how they ought to work together!