Friday, March 2, 2012

A Lenten Bent

The Lenten season has came upon us- not unexpectedly, but rather like an old friend one has been waiting to see after a long absence. Many people do all sorts of things for Lent: give up a food item or beverage, t.v., computer,etc; making a sacrifice of time by visiting shut-ins or relatives they would prefer not to hang out with normally as well as giving "alms" by donating money to worthy causes. Before coming back into the church, I had resisted the Lenten idea of sacrifice deeming it "too Catholic" and refused to give anything up, instead, focusing on doing and giving since that seemed more appropriate to me. During my years at various Protestant churches, the idea of Lent was often talked about, and many times the congregation was "challenged" to think of how to do stuff to prepare for Easter. My kids loved this and were busily choosing something they might give up or do. It was a great "warm-up" for them becoming Catholic. They are still very thankful for all they learned at Salem Alliance about the Bible- especially when they were in the grade school department.
Once we started on our Catholic journey, I thought it would be harder for me to want to follow all the "rules". Needless to say, it was so much simpler than I ever could have imagined- not that it was a piece of cake, but it was something that caused a source of unexpected joy instead of the more likely grumpiness. A lot of people think the Catholic Church is still really strict on what is required to give up during Lent. To be honest, it is pretty minimal (source

1) Fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday ONLY
 Fasting as explained by the U.S. bishops means partaking of only one full meal. Some food (not equaling another full meal) is permitted at breakfast and around midday or in the evening—depending on when a person chooses to eat the main or full meal.
Saint Joseph's in Salem
2) Abstaining from meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays during Lent. This would be why fish frys and soup dinners at so many Catholic Churches are popular Friday nights during Lent- including the one David helps with at St. Joseph's.

Compare this to the old calendar which had this on it:
  • Ash Wednesday, all Fridays, and all Saturdays: fasting and total abstinence. This means 3 meatless meals -- with the two smaller meals not equalling in size the main meal of the day -- and no snacking. 
  • Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays (except Ash Wednesday), and Thursdays: fasting and partial abstinence from meat. This means three meals -- with the two smaller meals not equalling in size the main meal of the day -- and no snacking, but meat can be eaten at the principle meal.
  • Sundays, of course, are always free of fasting and abstinence; even in the heart of Lent, Sundays are about the glorious Resurrection.                   Source:
 To me, even this seems to be something not that hard to do. I think what it comes down to is as Saint Ignatius Loyola said, "Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly." 

I hope to use this year's Lent to do just that and pray for my family to do the same thing. Of course, this also will mean we are planning on trying some fun Lenten recipes. My hope is this post gives you some thought about the next 40 days as we await the celebration of Jesus' resurrection-
Whoever wishes to be my follower must deny his very self, take up his cross each day, and follow in my steps.                             
     – Luke 9:23