Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Vegans and Lent

Nicky exploring our church
Ah, it's that time a year again where Catholics make Lenten promises that don't last a week and  suddenly every Catholic decides to eat fish on Fridays. Well, did you know that it used to be tradition that EVERY Catholic, not just those crazy Eastern Catholics, did not eat meat on Fridays? Also, did you know that Bl. Pope Paul VI said that when that requirement was removed that the intention was for Catholics to decide on their own reparation on Fridays and were encouraged to abstain from meat anyways? In a culture where we find meat on our tables for three meals a day, and sometimes snacks, that seems quite foolish.
Now, because I'm vegan, that means that I don't have to worry about Fridays, right? Wrong! Every Friday especially during Lent must remain solemn. People like going out on Friday nights to celebrate the end of the week, but maybe it's best to wait until Saturday night, especially during Lent. A tradition I wish to begin during this Lent and to carry on throughout the year is to do the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 PM with Nicky. The Divine Mercy Chaplet was given to St. Faustina, a Polish nun, during her many visions of Christ regarding Divine Mercy. On Good Friday, I also enjoy reflecting on the Way of the Cross with my family, a tradition which began with the ever famous St. Francis of Assisi. On the market are so many versions of the Way of the Cross that I'm sure anybody can find a version they like. This can easily be done throughout Lent as well and Fridays during the year.
Prayer is all well and good, so does that mean I don't need to make any physical sacrifices during Lent? No! As Catholics, we should make all kinds of sacrifices for we are creatures of body and spirit. Christ saved us through the sacrifice of his body, so it is good to sacrifice our body for Christ even if with deprivation rather than death. During Lent we are called to pray, fast, and give alms. Prayer is sacrificing your spirit, fasting is sacrificing your body, and alms giving is sacrificing your resources. I'm using the CRS Rice Bowl app to pledge one of my sacrifices every day during Lent and to pray.
It is unhealthy for me to fast during Lent even before I became pregnant with my first. I also already abstain from all animal products on a daily basis. What, then is left? In the Eastern Church, part of our history is also sacrificing wine and oil during times of fasting and abstinence. This encouraged me to try other sacrifices. For example, alcohol. That does not work perfectly though because while breastfeeding and being pregnant I don't drink alcohol anyways. That leaves caffeine. This is perfect! Even while pregnant and breastfeeding, I drink small amounts of caffeine daily either as coffee or tea. During Lent, then, I can offer up my morning caffeine kick. Sometimes I miss it and sometimes I don't. I then use the CRS Rice Bowl app to pledge the cost of my daily cup of tea.
So, by doing a daily reading as my spiritual adviser suggested either on my CRS Rice Bowl app or  in my Lenten booklet, by abstaining from caffeine, and by pledging the cost of that coffee, I am able to fully experience Lent. I hope everyone has examined what they can fast from. Another thing I'm trying to fast from is some of my more habitual sins. I of course encourage everyone to try vegan at least on Fridays, but few can handle that. It's never too late to start participating in Lent.

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