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Thursday, February 18, 2016

My Lenten Sacrifices

Hello dear readers.

I realize I'm a little late in posting this, but I was busy with the 21 day blogging challenge when Lent began.

Growing up, I was not terribly observant of Lent. The Eastern Orthodox church of which I was born into and raised has a notably stiff fast for Lent whereby all animal products are forbidden for the 40 day fasting period. My dad tried to keep the fast but usually wound up slipping and eating meat, largely because my mom totally disregarded it except for the occasional time she'd have to contribute something to the after church coffee hour and bake her famous Lenten chocolate cake. My grandparents were lukewarm about it too, with my grandma usually cooking posno (Serbian for "Lenten") foods for parties when her friends would come over. Naturally, with no good role models to emulate in this austerity, I too lacked any observance of Lent and the sacrifices required of the penitential period.

Me in 2010, the first year I took Lent seriously. This was taken during Spring Break, which fell during Lent that year

It wasn't until I discovered Catholicism in my late teens/early twenties that the idea of fasting for Lent would even cross my mind. The first time I gave up meat for Lent was in my sophomore year of college. By that point, although I was not going to church, I began to identify more and more with Catholicism and its practices. I used that Lent as a Catholic litmus test-if the Catholic life was in my future, I would successfully be able to avoid meat for the duration of the entire fast. It wasn't always easy because I'm a die-hard carnivore, and since I didn't tell anyone I was fasting and for what purpose, it added an entirely new wrinkle. As God would have it, I managed to successfully complete the Lenten fast.

After that successful endeavor, I made it a custom to go vegetarian during Lent. Sometimes, I would even give up pop, which actually turned out to be harder because I relied on pop for the caffeine and fizzy mouth feeling. As hard as it was to give up something I ate and loved, the hardest thing to give up for Lent was actually a behavioral habit. Last year, because I was pregnant and couldn't give up food, I gave up cursing. I can go 40 days without eating meat or drinking pop, but it's hard as hell for my foul mouth to give up cursing! I was not entirely successful, but I did manage to stop using the Lord's Name in vain which was a significant personal improvement.

A yummy cheese enchilada meal from the Knights of Columbus fish fry at our other church. I didn't even mind the olives, even though I don't like them.

This year, my Lenten sacrifice will not be culinary. In addition to trying to limit my use of foul language (notice I said trying...), I'm giving up watching Ghost Adventures and worrying. I love watching Ghost Adventures, but the Three Stooges of ghost hunting (which is what my husband calls the program's main host Zak Bagans and his two co-hosts, Aaron Goodwin and Nick Groff) have a bad habit of transmitting alot of dangerous and heretical ideas with regards to the spirit world (according to Catholic demonology, if a spirit makes noise and/or makes you feel weird, IT'S A DEMON AND YOU SHOULDN'T BE TALKING TO IT!!!). Lent would be a good time to take a break from being schadenfreude and watching these fools get the shit kicked out of them by the various devils they stir up.

As for the worrying bit, I'm not particularly a worrier, but I got the idea to give up worrying and submit more to God's will from a fellow Catholic blogger who I befriended and follow on Facebook. I do want to submit to God's will. It's liberating to be able to let go of my fears and worries by placing them in His hands! I admit that I'm not always successful at doing so in light of my low socioeconomic status and the penalties imposed on people like me by this Calvinist pigpen government. But, Lent is a time to focus on the spiritual life and making your relationship with God a better one. When I can, I will try and go to Mass more often than just on Sundays and take part in devotionals like Stations of the Cross on Fridays. There are graces that come from those two practices which will help me in this life as well as the next.

What will you be giving up for Lent? What aspect of your spiritual life will you be focusing on?

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