Sunday, February 17, 2013

They Will Say You Are Wrong

To my son Tommy,

I am an argumentative type and probably always have been.  When I was a child, my parents tried to teach me Spanish.  One incident they always tell me about was during a drive.  We passed a horse farm and my mom (your Grandmom Roro) points to one of the creatures and says, "Mira el caballo" to which I replied sternly, "No Mommy!  That is a horse!"  No amount of reasoning or argument would dissuade me from the fact that it was a horse.  I was stubborn and would never even consider that it could also be el caballo.

I am not going to discuss the benefits and hardships of this trait which can be both a gift and curse at the same time.  I do get it honestly and I do see a bunch of these tendencies in you and hope your mother will be able to temper and soften this trait in you.  I am actually here to give you one of my favorite argument starters that is very fitting for today.  It is an argument you will never win even though you will be right.  I believe it got me sent to the principal's office when I had this argument with a nun at my high school.

Even some of the most devout Catholics have never done the math, so when you walk up and tell one of them that Lent is forty six days they will immediately balk.  Technically you will have to say the forty days of Lent spans forty six days to be completely correct.  Then you will try and try to explain to them how Sundays are not counted.  Then you will have to explain how Sundays are set aside to celebrate the joy of the Resurrection and thus every Sunday is a mini-Easter and your are supposed to rejoice.  This includes somewhere deep in cannon law that any fasting requirement (except for the Eucharistic fast) is null and void.

I think I figured this out when I was about eight years old and was playing with my calendar and filling my little personal poor box for Lent.  When the accounting of days and thus the accounting of my contribution didn't add up, I did an audit.  My investigation revealed that many do not know why and many didn't even know of the disparage.  I had people tell me that Holy Week doesn't count as part of Lent or that it is just called 40 days because it is approximately 40 days and they rounded down.  Both of those explanations turned out wrong but are common ones when the person doesn't want to say "I don't know."  So after asking a dozen or so people, I asked your grandpa Leo and he told me the right answer.  Then of course being the stubborn person I am and was, I didn't quite believe him till I got about three independent verifications from various sources.  This was in the days before the internet and you couldn't just research things with a quick google search.

If you do get someone who is willing to accept your explanation of the 46 days of Lent, the next question is going to be, "Do I have to continue my Lent practices on Sunday or is it a free day?" in which case you refer them to their conscience or their priest.  There are some things that it is just better not to counsel on.  My position on the whole thing is that it really doesn't matter if it is 40 or 46 days because we should actually expand the kind of extra effort we put in at Lent year round.  This is the reason I would give an argument starter to a potentially argumentative person.  It has taught me that it isn't worth arguing and the truth or facts of the matter really don't matter much.  It is a perfect lesson or example on how about arguing over the specifics and details totally misses the big picture.  It is a lesson I hope you learn early in your life and perhaps you won't waste as much time in your life on having to be right about the details.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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