Mary and Martha Moment: Time to Prepare for Lent!

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It’s coming.

Ash Wednesday sneaks up on me every year, no matter what month it’s found in.

It’s that time to prayerfully consider what sorts of prayer challenges, sacrifices, and works of service/almsgiving you are called to participate in this year.

The following is a reflection called Why Are We Called to Sacrifice? reprinted from a year ago.

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

Two years ago 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:

See the quote from Pope Benedict here.

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 on suffering and sacrifice here).  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
  • 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.
  • Adding a meatless Wednesday to the traditional meatless Fridays

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

By the way, some Catholic mamas will be hosting a “Meatless Meals Carnival” next week, just about the time you’re running out of ideas for Friday meals.  I’ll let you know where and when!

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

Got Ideas?

People have such helpful and challenging ideas to share when it comes to “What are you doing for Lent?”  This Friday, I’ll host a Lenten Linky, and if you’re posting about your challenges for Lent or anything about prayer, sacrifice or service for the season, you can link up HERE.  I’ll leave it open through next week to give people time to post and join in the discussion.

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.


I’d love to see more of you!  Sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed. You can also follow me on Twitter.

If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.

Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

Photo from akahodag

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14 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    Thanks for this great post! We celebrate Lent as the Evangelical faith it seems less and less important to put aside the things that hinder us and focus on the sacrifice of the cross. I have honored Lent for years and will continue it this year. For this year’s sacrifice, I’m combining our desire to be debt free and using the six weeks to lessen our outflow, increase our savings and watch God provide! I’m excited about it and can’t wait to see how the Lord works. Have a blessed Lenten season

    • Katie says

      Awesome goal! I have often committed to “not buying anything I didn’t NEED”, food or otherwise. It’s a great consciousness-raising and deliberate sacrifice.
      Blessings, Katie

  2. Autumn says

    This is such a great post. I’m not catholic but my family and I celebrate Lent every year. I can’t wait to celebrate it with you!!
    Your blog is such an inspiration to me, keep up the great work!!

    • Katie says

      It’s funny you say that, because it seems many people associate Lent *only* with “giving up”. I like to balance all 3: sacrifice, prayers, and good works.

      I’m happy to be the reminder-er! :) Katie

  3. Michelle says

    I appreciate the part of your post where you mentioned making sacrifices for the right reasons. I am Catholic and throughout my adult life I have questioned the practice of eating fish and seafood on Fridays instead of meat. For me, fish/seafood is far more expensive than meat (so there’s no donating the money not spent on meat), and I’d rather eat seafood anyday! In my opinion that’s not really a sacrifice. Anyway, I usually prepare tomato soup and grilled cheese, or homemade mac and cheese on Fridays instead.

    I too look forward to your blog during this Lent. I really enjoyed your Advent posts.

    • Katie says

      I agree wholeheartedly! A reader emailed this this week:
      “For your readers who wondered about eating fish during Lent: my adult, older son learned at a Catholic college class several years ago that the fish-eating tradition goes back in history to Europe when the Pope recommended eating fish to help the fishermen economically. Our priests or lay ministers more familiar with Lenten traditions and regulations could probably give us more information about this.”
      Interesting! I agree with you – keep it simple and penitential as much as possible.
      Thanks! Katie

      • Julia says

        During a wonderful homily, one of our local priests explained that the omission of meat from Friday meals reminds us that Christ gave his blood for us, so that other sacrifices (of cows, chickens, pigs, etc) are no longer necessary. Fish are acceptable fair because they appear not have blood. For those of us who enjoy seafood, meatless Fridays are more of a symbolic reminder of Christ’s passion than a penitential offering. :)

        Thank you for the wonderful post and the great discussion!

        • Katie says

          I have never heard that before, but I love it! It’s amazing how deep and wide our tradition goes, and just when I think I grasp something, there’s more depth. God is so good! Thank you for sharing that – I’ll have to work it in next Lent! :) Katie

  4. says

    I’ve been praying and pondering how I will observe Lent this year for a few weeks now and I’m so thankful you shared forgoing seconds and snacks. I normally choose to abstain from sugar or meat for the entire season, but will be spending a week celebrating my Grandmother’s 80th birthday and traveling this year. Sacrificing seconds and snacks is striking me as a good way to still enjoy the fellowship and food that come with family time, but still practice denial.

  5. says

    Love this post! I grew up in a Calvary Chapel that didn’t even mention lent (or advent), so when I learned about it in college and began practicing it was hard for me to articulate why it meant something and how it “worked.” I love being able to put faith to practice in such a simple, everyday manner.
    Thanks for putting it beautifully and simply!
    .-= Kait Palmer´s last blog ..Wardrobe Challenge Days 26,27 & Mission Aviation =-.

  6. says

    Lent is such a useful idea! Making a change for just 40 days seems so much easier than making it permanently, but once you’ve given it that real effort instead of just “trying to cut back,” it can turn out to make a permanent difference.

    I’m pleased that you mentioned giving up the snooze alarm because that was such a learning experience for me! Another year, I gave up meat for Lent (including fish–I agree with Michelle!) and that was very profound too.
    .-= ‘Becca´s last blog ..Storing Cheese and Onions =-.

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