Growing up in the 50s, I had a different look on Lent and especially fasting and abstinence. I can remember that we were not allowed to eat meat on All Fridays of the year. My mom learned to improvise. One week we would have eggs and mac & cheese. The next week we would have grilled tuna patty. Fish sticks were a regular part of the Friday cuisine of many Roman Catholics. Not sure if we ever had grilled cheese and tomato soup. We must have had it a lot or it would have stuck in my mind as something different. Although there were a few pizza parlors around. I don’t recall having pizza as a child.
When my wife and I got married, we would order pizza every Friday night. Believe it or not it was only in the past few years that we actually stopped having pizza every Friday. During our first Lent as a married couple we would order our pizza with pepperoni and it took a few weeks before we realized – OOPS, pepperoni is meat.
As we enter into the season of Lent, I can’t help but notice how the rules for fasting have changed in 60 years. The USCCB website lists the following Lenten rules for fasting and abstinence in 2022:
· Fasting - Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, for Ages 18-59. Anyone outside the age limits, including the physically or mentally ill, those suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes, and pregnant or nursing women are excused.
· Abstinence – abstain from meat every Friday during Lent for Ages 14+. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal.
As we continue on our journey, we can look at Lent as 40 days remembering the events leading up to and including the death of Jesus Christ. Jesus tells his disciples “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus’ death is the ultimate sacrifice offered to God for those whom he loved.
Many people give things up during Lent as a sign of their sacrifice and to test their self-discipline. When Jesus was in the desert, he was tempted by Satan every way possible so he would turn away from God. But no matter how hard Satan tried Jesus refused to follow. Our offering to give something is a small way of offering sacrifice to God, but you don’t have to give something up. Why not do more? Maybe join the Daily Lenten Challenge, either individually or as a family; go to daily Mass; spend time in Adoration; Go to Stations on Friday evenings.
Lent ends with Holy Week, which leads to Easter Sunday - the most important day in the Christian calendar. Why not challenge yourself by doing more this Lenten Season?