Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ash Wednesday - Beginning of Lent - Fast

It's that time of year again.  Last year I gave up all meat.

This year I have no idea what to give up.  They say instead of giving something up you can add something to your life..that requires dedication, serves others; whether that is God or people in general.

The act of 'fasting' and the rules that surround this vary from one religion to another, and in some cases even from State to State, e.g. Louisiana fast from non-seafood meat only on Fridays during Lent, while really it is said that it should be any animal (product).

Its all just as confusing as Lent itself which is supposed to be until Easter.  40 days.  But really it ends up being 46 days, but some say that each Sunday is like a 'mini-Easter' and you can 'cheat'.  Say wha?  I never heard that until last year, and again reminded this year during research.

I think most people go with what they were brought up with.  For me that meant no eating meat on Fridays (unless it was fish or other seafood).  I was never asked to give anything up but once I was old enough to figure all that out, I made my own decisions.

And it wasn't until the past few years that I started the practice of fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  Again, so many rules and 'outs'.. for example:  In some places, believers abstained from food for an entire day; others took only one meal each day, while others abstained from all food until 3 o'clock. In most places, however, the practice was to abstain from eating until the evening, when a small meal without vegetables or alcohol was eaten.

I have not eaten at all on Ash Wednesday (from the last meal on Tuesday until breakfast on Thursday)... the last 2 years but did eat on Good Friday, mostly because I had to run on Saturday.  :O/  This year my plan is to, on Good Friday, eat the one meal.

My other plan is to add the act of fasting one day a week during Lent.  There is a lot out there on why fasting is 'close to God' and how it plays into spirituality.  I won't bore you with that.  I like to keep my spirituality close to the cuff...

And this year moreso than ever...I will still hear my mother's voice when she would call me EVERY Friday and simply say "Dont eat meat today!"

And from the scripture:

Matthew 6.16-18
16... When you fast, do not put on a sad face as the hypocrites do. They neglect their appearance so that everyone will see that they are fasting. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. 17 When you go without food, wash your face and comb your hair, 18 so that others cannot know that you are fasting, only your Father, who is unseen, will know. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.
Do you or your family observe Lent?  Ash Wednesday?  Fridays during Lenten?  What are you giving up?  Do you fast?


Anonymous said...

Yes we do observe lent, although I seem to feel like I failed every year. I am vowing to read my bible every day now for lent because I've gotten quite lazy, and do the rosary. No meat tomorrow, and not much food either.. BOOO! I'm going to need some prayers.

K said...

OK... here's my answer because I obsessed over getting this "right" a few years ago...LOL like it truly matters since it's really a matter of the heart.

Fasting is done on Good Friday, not Ash Wednesday. We abstain on Ash Weds., which is, we do not eat meat.

In the good old days, ALL animal products were given up, which is where we get "Easter Eggs" from, because even eggs and butter were not consumed during Lent. How the Bunny got involved, I have no idea.

Even when you fast, you should still eat one simple meal for the day.

And I'm with you, I can do anything for 6 days, but 46, well, that's another story.

Yet, Sunday is not supposed to be a day of fasting, as it is a Feast day. So obedience is called into the picture, but being me, I don't obey. LOL

A priest called me on some of my Lenten practices a few years ago. I was really having a hard time in confession because I had failed at many of my "sacrifices". He set me straight rather quickly. He asked what I had taken on. He made the point very clear that the point of giving things up, or turning away from them is to allow us to then take things on, or turn towards Him instead of the thing or things of this world.
So, in essence, as long as you follow the rules of fasting and abstinence, the real challenge is incorporating something new or something we neglect to do in our spiritual lives in order to draw closer to Him during this time.
I am giving up Facebook, mostly because as much as I hate to admit it, I'm hopelessly hooked on it. It's a love/hate thing. If I add up the number of times I log in during the day, I would be ashamed. Especially when I feel like I don't have enough hours in the day to get things done.
So FB is gone and nightly Gospel reading is on. I will read the Gospel for the next day's Mass at bedtime.
I will also be making a special effort to spend more 1:1 time with each of my kids. It's easy to forget to do that.
I thought about giving up coffee, but I'm not that strong...yet.
Consistent prayer life is what I strive for. Consistent, honest, deep, and meaningful. I love the Rosary and the Divine Mercy. I need to spend more time listening, though.
Bet this is more than you wanted to know, eh?
I am praying for you, June.

K said...

OK...ignore what I said about Ash Weds. It IS a day of fasting and abstinence.

I was up tossing and turning all night because something didn't feel right about what I said.

I did some more research and I was incorrect as far as adults go. What I said applies to kids under 14.

I am so sorry...feel free to ignore me in the future. LOL

Angela (the diet book junkie) said...

i just found your blog and having a great time reading through your posts! i am Christian, but not Catholic, so i don't know too much about Lent. that bible verse hits it spot on though. fasting isn't to show others how righteous you are, it's about devotion to God. thanks for sharing!