09 February 2016

The Spirit of Lent

Hey look! Two blog posts in a span of time that is not that long! Anyway, I wanted to talk about something that's been driving me nuts lately. Inevitably, in the days preceding Lent, my Facebook wall fills up with posts from friends, "No, pregnant and nursing moms do not have to fast for Lent!" A few of my friends even write blog posts defending this position. These graphics (found here) explain the Catholic Church's position on fasting.

So when I see these plentiful "You don't have to fast!" posts, I wonder to myself, "Who are these goody-goody Catholics who are adamantly defending not eating while growing/nourishing human life?" I mean seriously - are you bragging about being pregnant or nursing and skipping meals? Well, yay for you, now go find a closet and pray for humility. Never have I encountered someone who was like, "Hey, do you have a baby in there? Well, I certainly hope you didn't eat a full bowl of cereal for breakfast this morning!" I didn't think those people existed!

I, personally, hate fasting. No food is hard. Who likes hard? Whenever I happen to be pregnant or nursing during Lent, I'm always like, "Booyah! Food for me!"

In fact, I'm not even giving up anything for Lent this year! Well, I'll refrain from meat on Fridays. But this girl will continue imbibing coffee, sugar in her coffee, chocolate, fast food, Facebook, the works. At this point in my life - with three kids under five/three kids in diapers - giving up any food item would just be punitive. We don't have a TV for me to give up, I rarely get online during the day anymore, and I don't even have a Facebook app on my tablet or smart phone. Getting creative with my penitential suffering (No soda! No crocheting! No reading fiction! No...buying the yummy granola bars?) wouldn't deepen my relationship with God. It would be very "letter of the law" instead of "spirit of the law."

Right now what I need are extras for my spiritual life. When you spend a majority of your day cooking, doing laundry, and changing diapers, it's easy to forget about prayer, Jesus' suffering and dying on the cross, you know, the little things in life. So this year, while my youngest wakes up 2-3 times a night to nurse and my oldest thinks it's perfectly acceptable to take her snowy boots off every time we get in the car and hit her sister in the face with them, I'm going to (re)start saying a daily Rosary, go to adoration once a week (at night after the kids go down), respect the third commandment with less work and shopping on Sundays, and go to Mass every Sunday I'm not sick. (Right now, if one of the girls is sick, I stay home with her and Matt takes the healthy one to 9:30am Mass. During lent, I'll then go to the 11:30am Mass by myself when someone is sick.)

At the end of Lent, instead of making sweet love to a chocolate bar, I'll have significantly strengthened my spiritual life and grown closer to God. And isn't that the point of Lent?


Motivated With Meaning said...

Way to go! Hit the nail on the head! Lent is ALL about growing closer with God and meditating on how to do that! God's waiting on us, are we really seeking Him? Thanks for sharing!! ~Christy

Anonymous said...

What "those people" sometimes seem to miss is the purpose of fasting or giving up something you like -you're supposed to turn to prayer INSTEAD at those times when you would otherwise normally partake of such things. Being pregnant this Lent, I'm trying to do a bit of both giving up (no sweets, fast food, cream in my coffee) and trying to discern, at those punctuation points throughout the day when I would normally pour cream into my coffee, what it is in my life that hinders a deepening of my relationship with God? I think that's the essence of what we're supposed to focus on in our increased prayer, fasting, and alms giving. -Not that the cream itself prevents me from loving God, but making the conscious decision to go without provides an opportunity for me to pause, considering what things actually do. Good post!