Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Mary and Martha Moment: On Lenten Sacrifices

February 25th, 2009 · 7 Comments · Mary and Martha Moments, Prayerful Kitchen

Mary and Martha Moment

My Standard Sacrifice

Since I was a child, I remember my father doing the same things for Lent every year.  He would go to daily Mass and observe a modified fast by avoiding eating between meals.

When I was in high school, I too began to eat only three meals a day during Lent.  Unfortunately, the great temptation with this sacrifice, as with most, is to live the letter of the law rather than its spirit.  Instead of eating three normal, everyday meals and offering up the time in between as a sacrifice to unite with the cross of Christ, it’s all too easy to eat a big meal…and keep eating…and tell yourself that as long as you haven’t stopped eating yet, the “meal” hasn’t ended.

After a two-hour dinner, including the sit-down part and the grazing in the kitchen immediately after, I would find myself feeling stuffed, bloated, and guilty.  I think I actually gained weight during Lent some years!  Other years I did well, restraining myself (or refining my sacrifice to keep myself accountable) and truly learning the value of hunger, fasting, and sacrifice.

Acknowledging Failure

Last year my husband and I actually changed course from the “no eating between meals” mid-Lent.  We decided that forgoing second helpings and all sweets would be a better sacrifice, better for our waistlines, and that we would be more likely not to push the envelope.  As tempting as it was to take gargantuan helpings at dinner, we were on top of it, and we were able to offer up our hunger.  We were better Christians and better people for the decision.

Why do Catholics fast?

I’ll let the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, take that one:

“In the very first pages of Sacred Scripture, the Lord commands man to abstain from partaking of the prohibited fruit: “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Gn 2, 16-17). Commenting on the divine injunction, Saint Basil observes that “fasting was ordained in Paradise,” and “the first commandment in this sense was delivered to Adam.” He thus concludes: ” ‘You shall not eat’ is a law of fasting and abstinence” (cf. Sermo de jejunio: PG 31, 163, 98).”

“In our own day, fasting seems to have lost something of its spiritual meaning, and has taken on, in a culture characterized by the search for material well-being, a therapeutic value for the care of one’s body. Fasting certainly bring benefits to physical well-being, but for believers, it is, in the first place, a “therapy” to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God”

“Voluntary fasting enables us to grow in the spirit of the Good Samaritan, who bends low and goes to the help of his suffering brother (cf. Encyclical Deus caritas est, 15). By freely embracing an act of self-denial for the sake of another, we make a statement that our brother or sister in need is not a stranger”

from his Lenten message for this year

What’s important to remember is to fast for the right reason: not to lose weight, or to accomplish something for your own pride, but to unite your sacrifice to Christ (Col. 1:24…more to come later on this concept).  Allow your hunger to remind you NOT of what you’re not eating or to make you grumpy, but to be a reminder to pray…like a cell phone alarm in your tummy.  “Gurgle, I’m hungry!” =Time to pray.  See?  Simple.  It’s the easiest way to answer St. Paul’s call in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing.”

Ideas to Share

Here are some of the ways you can fast from food:

  • No eating between meals
  • No sweets/desserts
  • No second helpings
  • Adding a meatless Wednesday to the traditional meatless Fridays

By the way, I’ll be hosting a “Meatless Meals Carnival” in 2 weeks, just about the time you’re running out of ideas for Friday meals.

  • Forego condiments (I read about a convent that does this daily)
  • Bread and water fast one day a week
  • Foregoing X (sweets, cheese, whatever is your tough spot) on just one or two days a week.  I often do it on Wednesday/Friday because that’s when Our Lady of Medjugorje (or here) asks us to fast and pray.

When you are hungry for food, be hungry for Christ!

Some other ways to fast:

  • From complaining
  • From television
  • From snapping at your spouse/kids
  • From the snooze button
  • From purchasing anything you don’t NEED

Please Share YOUR Ideas

Dialogue between Christians is so helpful.  That’s why God tells us to go to church every week, to meet together to pray and learn.  He loves to talk to us in the woods alone too, but He would never say that’s good enough.  Please join in with your Lenten promises in the comments section. Maybe you can inspire someone else to grow in their Lenten journey this year!

I challenge you to make some kitchen stewardship sacrifices this Lent.  Whether you appropriately fast by not eating between meals, give up seconds and/or sweets, or find some other way to make Lent a prayerful time in the kitchen, make it count.  Offer it up.  Improve your prayer life by learning the value of sacrifice.

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7 Comments so far ↓

  • Paolo Tiseo

    As part of my Lenten sacrifice this year, I want to continue to engage in daily meditations on the Scriptures, aided in part by my blogging at Seeking Jesus! I just read the Lent section on the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops website. They noted that the Holy Father recommended Lection Divina as a Lenten practice:

    “Lectio Divina, or “Divine Reading” is an ancient practice developed by the early monks to make reading the Bible an attractive experience. A common method would suggest that an individual, or even better a small group of people, listen to a passage read aloud … or read it themselves. The participants first point out any word that struck them. Then they hear the same passage once more, and expand from a word to an idea reflected in the passage. After a third reading the members of the group take time to describe briefly about how the passage speaks to them and how it might throw light upon the work or worries of their lives.”

  • Sue E.

    An idea I tried during the 40 Days for Life last fall was one day a week only eating fruits, vegetables, and meat. So, no dairy, grains, etc! That was verrrry difficult, and very penitant!

  • Katie

    I’ve never done this in a group with Scripture…I can imagine it being very powerful and would love to try it. Thank you for sharing your blog with us! I always am edified by what you write, Paolo.

  • Alison

    I really like the idea behind this.

    As an aside, Medjugorje is questionable at best (http://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/medjugorje.htm) and at least not approved by the Church. Not approved doesn’t mean condemned by any means, but . . . anyway. Whenever I see faithful Catholics reference Medjugorje “apparitions” it makes me nervous.

    Katie Reply:

    Alison,
    Thanks for that info. I have friends who have traveled there, and I do go with the “not approved doesn’t mean it’s condemned” I guess. ???

    Katie

  • Heidi Dixon

    Hi Katie. I have a Holy Hour each week, so one of my Lenten resolutions is to kneel for the duration (instead of sitting after 15 minutes). Normally, I pray the Angelus around noon daily, but I often pray it “on the fly”. For Lent, I am stopping to kneel or stand, instead. I’m also trying not to scroll on FB and am limiting myself to checking blog stats to once in the evening. Thanks for writing!

  • Pansy

    “Mary and Martha Moment: On Lenten Sacrifices | Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition” was indeed a terrific post.
    However, if it owned much more photographs it would definitely be even far better.
    Thank u ,Judson

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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