Before Lent began, I wrote a post explaining how my family would be spending Lent. I received one wonderful comment from a reader; however, I received about fifteen emails that spanned the gap of curious to down right rude. What was everyone so up in a ruffle about you ask. Well, it was our choice to go lacto-ovo vegetarian. I figured I would address some questions that were emailed and remark on some points that were brought up in the emails ( I did email them back personally, but I do feel that some points are worth mentioning).
Q. Why would we choose to go meatless for all of Lent?
A: Lent is about penance as well personal sacrifice. Food is highly regarded in this house. We love to eat; we love to host gatherings centered on food; we love to seek out new cuisines as well as restaurants; we love to find odd and exotic ingredients. Lent is not the appropriate time for any of that. In eating simply and without meat, we are reminded of those who eat simply every day out of necessity as well as those who are starving. After Lent, we use the money we have saved to donate a large purchase to our St. Vincent de Paul Society. This sacrifice allows time for our family to find other ways to bond outside of eating.
Q. What about social obligations? Do you really not let your kids eat cake at birthday parties?
A: My husband and I agree that Lent is not a time of frivolity. It is a time for introspection; therefore our social calendar is not filled nor do we plan large get-togethers. The Great Lent is only 46 days. Seriously, not that big of deal. If my chickadees can not handle missing out on some minor social forays, then I have to re-evaluate my parenting.
My children are NOT allowed to eat sweets during Lent, period. Learning self-discipline is more important to learn than appeasing people at the cost of your promise to God. If/when we do attend something during Lent where there will be sweets, we like to:
1. Remind our chickadees that they are not to eat willy-nilly but mindfully.
2. They are not to announce that they are abstaining but to just go through the line.
3. If cake is offered, we ask if we could possibly take it home for Sunday's consumption.
In my opinion, no hostess will feel embarrassed if you still take the cake to consume at a later time. Would you be offended if a child was allergic to the eggs in the cake? No, you would make a mental note for next time and move on. We have Muslim and Hindi friends that do not consume pork; should they have to eat pork to spare my feelings? No, and neither should anyone be expected to appease someone at the cost of their integrity.
Q: Well little-miss-stick-in-the-mud, are there any breaks? Any fun?
A: The feasts of St. Patrick (March 17), St. Joseph (March 19), and the Annunciation (March 25) are all feast days where there will be sweets but in a limited capacity. Sundays are a day of rest and is a feast day. We do allow them to watch a movie or two but we keep our Lenten abstinences. We have found that it interrupts the flow of Lent making each habit harder to overcome. We do have a Lenten birthday, my oldest daughter Bella, and our anniversary is on March 21 (3-2-1! And that is why we got married on a Wednesday, people). The birthday is celebrated on Sunday because Bella is not a recognized saint yet. Sorry, she can have her cake and gift on Sunday previous. Same with our anniversary; the Sunday closest is the observed date.
Did you make through it all? If yes, I think it could count as a Lenten mortification. If not, check out more fun at Sarah's lovely blog!