Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Lent Plans 2018

Ash Wednesday is upon us again. In my son's religious education class, the teachers went over the precepts of the Church. The fifth precept is to "observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2043) Fasting is eating much less food than you normally would; abstinence in this context is not eating meat. The point of this penance is not to punish yourself. It's to "acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart." Rather than being led around by our appetites, we practice saying "no" to them so that we are free to focus on other, more important things. Eating food is important but not the most important thing in our lives. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the two prescribed days for fast and abstinence in America, with the Fridays in Lent only requiring abstinence. So the obligation is not so great. Often, people add other days for themselves or make other sacrifices, the classical "giving up something for Lent." As a family we have decided to give up dessert at dinner.

The other traditional practice in Lent (in addition to fasting) are prayer and almsgiving. For prayer, I bought Seeking Jesus in Everyday Life which has daily readings and reflections. My son, as part of his Scout's Duty to God badge, has been saying a decade of the rosary every night, in addition to our regular family evening prayers. I will keep up that tradition at least through Lent, hopefully for the foreseeable future.

For almsgiving, we will continue to buy something extra for the local food pantry when we shop for groceries. Usually we buy one extra thing--for Lent we'll buy two. The Cardinal's Annual appeal just happened at church. We've made a big donation there.

I was thinking of reading Kristin Lavransdatter as spiritual reading for Lent, but after finishing Seven Pillars of Wisdom, I am not ready for another weighty tome. I'll read some shorter inspirational books. And I will do my usual fast from graphic novels (though, also as usual, I have enough backlog of blog posts to last till Easter).

We don't have any really big plans this year for Lent, just some simple stuff to keep us going down the right road.


  1. Thank you! It was a real surprise and pleasure to see you are using Seeking Jesus in Lent. :-)

  2. You're welcome! I bought it a long time ago (I mean, when it first came out, which really isn't that long ago) and it's been sitting on my shelf waiting patiently. Time to dive in!