The Weirdest Lenten Sacrifice

I’ve never done a weirder thing for Lent before.  Even before my current medical-dietary troubles, I’d decided that I didn’t want this Lent to be about food any more than already dictated by canon law.  I’ve made everything in my life about food, and past Lents were certainly no exception.  I wanted this year to be different. So I thought back to the preparatory penance I’d joked about making during this past Advent.

“What if I stopped talking in Sigma’s voice?”

My husband laughed–not because he didn’t know what I was talking about (as you likely don’t), but because it was a weird idea.

“Why would you give that up? It doesn’t hurt anybody.”

“I know,” I said.  “It’s not like there’s anything illicit in channeling your dog’s voice.  I don’t know, though.  Maybe it would be a good way to school my thoughts.”

I didn’t think of it again until the aforementioned gallbladder attack peaked one week to the day before Ash Wednesday.  Giving up Siggie’s voice it is.

What does that mean, even?  It means we’re crazy, that’s what it means.  Lots of people have pets.  Lots of those people talk to their pets.  We, however, make them answer back.  I’ve done this for all of my pets since my first cat at age 9 (his name was Hobie, and his voice sounded a bit like a fat, lazy C-3PO).  This guy…


… is Sigma.  Isn’t he handome?

“Of course I am, Mommy, and you’re awesome, too!”

Aw, thanks, Siggie.  Siggie sounds and acts a little bit like Emmett from The Lego Movie, only more enthusiastic.

“Tennis ball? Awesome!  You’re taking me for a walk? Awesome! You dropped a french fry? AWESOME!!!!”

We have whole conversations, too.

“Doggies, did the girls feed you?”

Siggie replies, “No, they didn’t, Mommy.  I’m so hungry! Any food is dog food!”

From the bathroom down the hall, “Don’t listen to him, Mommy! I fed him!”

“No, she didn’t.  Don’t be ridiculous.”

Thunderstorm? He’s marching in front of me everywhere I go.  “Don’t worry, Mommy.  I’ll protect you from the scary thunder.”

“Actually, Siggie, I’m not really afraid of thunderstorms.”

“Of course you are.  Don’t be ridiculous.”

It’s a lot of fun having conversations with the dog.  It’s certainly not hurting anybody.  What kind of penance is giving up conversations with the fictional dog voice for 40 days? I didn’t even know… until today.  Today’s first reading is from Jonah, towards the end, where the king of Nineveh declares a fast and penance that extends even to the animals.  Why?  It’s not like animals need to work out their salvation in fear and trembling.  So what’s the point?

“Man and beast shall be covered with sackcloth…”

How can covering an animal with sackcloth help humans get closer to God?  Because it gives us a break from using God’s creation for so much pleasure.  Imagine this fluffy sock- and pencil-destroying angel covered in burlap:


That’s Rapunzel.  Punzie doesn’t talk much, but she is soooo soft and fluffy and cuddly and… soothing.  It’s soothing to have these routines with our pets.

Lent isn’t necessarily about giving up sin.  Life is supposed to be giving up sin.  Lent is about becoming more like Christ in that we accept the cross rather than denying it for the sake of comfort, whether that comfort is malignant or benign. 

So that’s my weird Lenten sacrifice.  What’s yours?  Food? Money? Adding prayer? Adding charitable acts? Don’t toot your horn so much as offer options to anybody reading who might be looking for options of their own.  


    1. It is hard, but it seems the lessons abound when we don’t turn from the most difficult challenges. I’m not saying we pass or succeed at all those difficulties, but when we face them instead of saying, “I can’t. It’s too hard,” we benefit far more than we could ever imagine. Check back and let us know how it goes?

  1. Probably the best Lenten sacrifice I ever chose was turning off the radio in the car. Or the year I gave up my favorite Sirius Channel. Years later, I’m much more attuned to the little voice inside me saying, “Turn if off. Silence.” Or simply foregoing the most-pleasing choice.

  2. Many Lents have been about food sacrifices and this one is too but with a different twist which I’ve been thinking about for a whole year. For Lent this year I wanted to commit to making dinner every night. That may not seem like much to most people but after our four children were raised and out of the nest (some may argue it was before they were all actually out of the nest), I gave up cooking and left almost all dinner prep in my husband’s able hands. To make this even more challenging, we’re following the Bright Line eating program for Lent which means no sugar, no flour, no snacking and three meals planned ahead of time and eaten at approximately the same time every day. It’s been an interesting Lent so far — one of learning and letting go.

  3. I have also been trying to pray the Angelus daily this Lent (and I hope it’ll stick after Lent ends!) And I’m just denying myself those tempting little treats like a cup of coffee from Dunkin’ when I’m out running errands. I have a 2-month calendar and I’m filling in the blanks with people’s names; my prayers and sacrifices on any particular day are offered for the person named on that date.

  4. I just wanted to say that you aren’t alone in talking for your dogs. My family does the same thing with our two beagles!
    This lent I gave up filtering and editing all of my pictures. Just showing the world exactly what God made, nothing more and nothing less! Great post, funny too!

    1. I’M NOT ALONE! Do your beagles have their own “voices,” or do you just say in your own voice what it looks like their thoughts might be? Giving up filtering is a good one. Can’t wait to see what you learn from it. Blessed Lent to you.

  5. What a cute and funny post! Your Lenten sacrifice is truly unique. Mine is boring. Giving up beer with dinner and adding prayer. I’m also trying to be open to whatever God sends my way. Those can be the hardest things. My dog talks, too, BTW.

  6. I don’t have a smartphone, but my tablet is my instant, portable internet connection…didn’t realize how attached I really was until I decided to give it up for Lent. Somehow, having to actually turn on my laptop to get to the web is really helping me balance my time!

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