This week marks the beginning of the Christian season of Lent, the 40-weekday period prior to Holy Week and Easter Sunday.
Lent is traditionally observed as a period of personal reflection, fasting and repentance in preparation for the gift bestowed upon Christian - salvation through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Tuesday prior to Ash Wednesday, or the first day of Lent, is celebrated by Catholics as ''Fat Tuesday,'' a last hurrah of feasting and hedonism prior to the Lenten period that began, this year, precisely at midnight on Feb. 22. Mardi Gras celebrations grow in number and commercialism each year throughout Europe, Latin America and the United States.
A few years ago my husband, two friends from church and I attended a Mardi Gras event in North Carolina. I'd won four tickets by calling a radio station at the right moment and we were all excited to experience something new.
The four of us were caught completely unaware by the level of hedonism and depravity we witnessed gape-mouthed. We did have a great time and still shake our heads and giggle when we discuss a few of the things we saw that evening.
A little Mardi Gras-style self-indulgence is all right now and then. Experience has taught me that you have to let loose occasionally to keep from getting too uptight. The problem, however, occurs when the partying doesn't stop at midnight.
The concept of ''everything in moderation'' is contributed throughout history to everyone from Apollo to Socrates to Ben Franklin. The Bible references the topic in Philippians 4:5 stating ''Let your moderation be known to all men.'' As a society, over-indulgence and gluttony have seemingly replaced conservatism and restraint.
The media and marketplace are saturated with illustrations of greed. Look around you someday while you're shopping at the mall. It won't take long to find extraordinary examples of gluttony.
Do our dogs really need a cushioned, monogrammed stroller in which to be pushed around by their ludicrous owners? Yes, I've actually seen them for sale at a local pet store.
Do our children really need a computer game with which to sit on their rears and pretend to feed and groom an imaginary pet? Please, they whine when they have to take care of real pets.
In addition to fostering future gluttony, we are setting an example to our youth that entitlement is acceptable. Why is it OK for weak guardians to give in to their spoiled brats in the middle of Toys R Us to stop a screaming fit? And yes, I also recently witnessed one of those. This child had grown accustomed to getting whatever he wanted and began a screaming and heel-dragging tantrum when told no. To stop the embarrassing spectacle, I overheard the adult give in to the little one and say if he stopped, he could have what he wanted.
Have we passed the societal ''point of no return'' in teaching and living the values of humility and moderation? What's so wrong with just saying no? Ask my kids if I have the slightest reservation in using that small but powerful word. As stated in a previous column, I am in no way a model of parenting perfection. My core beliefs were thankfully instilled by my wise and ethical parents who sacrificed much to provide for me and my five siblings.
It sickens me to see the levels of over-indulgence and entitlement some ''parents'' are allowing in their children. A perceptive friend recently told me my greatest responsibility at this point in my life is to be a good mother to my two kids. What I teach them today cultivates the kind of people they will turn out to be.
Scary isn't it.
Weatherman is a Trumbull County resident.