By Mary DeTurris Poust
I don't know how things go at your house, but at mine the meaning of our Lenten sacrifices can often get lost in the day-to-day discussions about dinner menus and grocery lists. We're only a few days in and already I'm thinking I need to do some work, especially where my 6-year-old is concerned. I can tell her decision to give up candy for Lent isn't going any deeper than a general feeling of dissatisfaction over not being able to eat the Valentine's Day treats still sitting in the pantry.
Even my own decision to go vegan on Fridays since I am already a vegetarian has recently given me pause. Is it my sacrifice -- not really since I don't miss meat or fish or even cheese -- or am I forcing a sacrifice on others in a surface-level attempt to be holy? Three out of five people in my house are committed carnivores, so eating fish on Fridays is their sacrifice. Is it fair for me to take it upon myself to make them eat vegan (since I do most of the cooking) in order to live out my choice? I'm not sure it is. Perhaps it's more of a sacrifice for me to eat fish on Friday with them.
So all of these thoughts are spinning around my head this week, our first full week of Lent. I'm looking at the few days behind us and thinking that Lent is off to a bad start, ready to throw my hands up and declare the whole season a failure before we've had a chance to get started. Clearly I need a Lenten intervention. So I started looking around the Internet and Facebook and came up with some links I thought might help. I figured I'd share them here in case anyone else out there is struggling to get their Lenten journey moving in the right direction.
I loved this link from Catholic Icing. It has downloadable pages for labeling a food collection box. We often give food to various food pantry collections, but usually it happens as someone is running out the door, grabbing boxes of pasta and cans of soup without really thinking. I like the idea of putting a box in our kitchen or somewhere equally visible and adding a little food every day, a constant and concrete reminder that the candy or cookies or chips or wine we give up is meant to have ramifications beyond our grumbling stomachs.
OSV has a Lenten guide that's definitely worth checking out. Click HERE to find lots of background on Lenten traditions and practices, as well as a list of Ten Tips for Making the Season More Meaningful.
One way to get my kids more interested in just about anything is to tell them there's cooking involved. Enter the Lenten pretzel. Click HERE for Joe Paprocki's post on the tradition behind the pretzel with a link to Danielle Bean's recipe for making your own.
This is the first year our parish isn't using CRS' Operation Rice Bowl kit and calendar, a disappointing development. Even when we don't always live up to the entire program, we try to make some of the recipes or do some of the suggested activities. We usually start out putting money in the Rice Bowl each day, only to fall behind and shove a hastily written check in at the end, but every year we try to do better and every year that box on the center of our table at dinner each night is a concrete reminder of our blessings, and of our need to pray and sacrifice for others. If you weren't able to get a Rice Bowl, click HERE to go to the CRS page and request one. I emailed them last night and heard back immediately that not one, but two kits were in the mail to me today. Even if you don't feel the need to have an actual Rice Bowl, that link will provide you with access to recipes and more to add to your Lenten practices.
If you're looking for some meatless meal ideas, you can head to my own blog, Not Strictly Spiritual for today's post of five vegetarian or vegan recipes. Click HERE for that link. I'll be posting more meatless recipes throughout Lent, and throughout the year.
Do you have a favorite site for Lenten ideas, meals, activities? If so, please share it in the comment section.