Where Lenten Failings Leave Us

The good news – I’m not a hypocrite.

The bad news – I’ve broken my Lenten promise in front of almost 40 twelve-year-olds.

The good news – this is a cause for…joy?

Being caught red-handed by 7th graders is like being caught red-handed by The Muppets.  There’s something more than slightly comical about the whole ordeal, and yet their innocence makes the guilt of the red-handed party—in this case, moi—all the more serious.

In Part I of the Diet Coke Saga, 7th grader George called me out mid-swig in front of the whole class.

In Part II, I snuck into the school café with four quarters only to be ambushed by a table of 7th grade girls.  Their eyes snapped up when they heard change clinking in the vending machine.

“Miss Sloan, I hope you’re not going to press the Diet Coke button,” said Rosa, as I pressed the Diet Coke button.

“But you’re our religion teacher!” protested Susanna. I slunk backward, twenty-ouncer in hand.

“I’m an example of…human weakness?”  I countered, pathetically.

“No, Miss Sloan, don’t do it!”

“I’m sorry guys.”  And I really was.  But not sorry enough to throw away a perfectly good bottle of soda.

(At this moment I will apologize to the other 2/3 of the country that refer to said beverage as ‘coke’ or ‘pop’.  Not all of us speak High English, see.)

So, my seventh graders see me as a spiritual sissy.  But not all is lost.  First of all, this is an accurate portrayal of the inner room.  Second of all, Christ has revealed what all this weakness means.

Sloan.  You can’t win in a fight against a soda.  Do you really expect to win the fight against sin?  Do you want to fight that battle without me? 

Lest I forget the magnanimity of his sacrifice, He has allowed me to lose a battle with an inanimate carbonated beverage.  Yes, Jesus wins against all sin.  Ever.  And I lose against soda.  And this is where the miracle happens – when I ask Him to pick up where I have slacked off.  First with the diet soda sacrifice, then with sin. I say again, rejoice.

Breaking my Lenten promise has been fruitful after all. And there is something valuable, I suppose, in spiritually face-planting in front of a bunch of kids and admitting you’re not perfect.  And then pointing out that He is.

Jane Sloan


B. Jane Sloan is a writer and high school theology teacher from Atlanta, GA. In addition to blogging for Catholic Exchange, she has been published in Our Sunday Visitor, Notre Dame Magazine and the literary journal Omnibus. Jane graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2007 with a B.A. in theology and philosophy. In 2009, she graduated with an M. Ed. from Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education. In 2009 Jane made a 500-mile pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. She spent summer 2010 as an intern planting vegetables and baking bread at the Abbey of Regina Laudis OSB in Bethlehem, CT. In 2011 she was present among the millions at the beatification of Blessed John Paul II. She is currently working toward her M.A. in Theology. Follow her on Twitter @CE_SundayBrunch. Follow her other blog on all-natural eating at www.thesavagepalate.blogspot.com

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  • Kathleen Davidson

    Love it– and can completely relate. Thanks–once again!!

  • Jane

    Any time!  Thanks for reading.

  • Kaity

    Oh my I needed a laugh this morning! But you’re so very real in your observation, we can’t win against a small temptation, how are we to stand against sin w/o Jesus.