When you enter into Lent on Ash Wednesday, tradition sees us going into the church, and exiting in a solemn way with having done away with the “Alleluia” and a physical manifestation of the inward penances that we will practice with a visible mark of ashes on our forehead. So why would I include “Feasting” in an article about Lent? Because we are called to live our faith joyfully, as Pope Francis keeps pointing out. We are called to be a people of joy even in times of penance and sacrifice. As scripture also points out, we should not douse our heads in ashes and cry about the sacrifices that we practice so as to make a public display, but rather live as we normally should, (joyfully) so as to emulate to the world the joy that we find in being beloved of Our Lord.
Now, by feasting I don’t mean to load our tables with all things glorious and gooey, or to lay a table full of magnificently stuffed birds and sugar-laden desserts. On the contrary, we can feed our bodies with simple and nutritious foods, and make them beautiful and enjoyable while still observing our season of fasting and abstinence. If you weren’t aware, there are only two days during the season of Lent when we are called to a more “extreme” form of fasting: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Well, I can do that, you might say. And so you should. On those days we can still feast, and by “feast” I mean to eat and feed our bodies, minds and souls with those things we need a joyful spirit and with a spirit of thanksgiving to our Lord for that ultimate sacrifice which He made for you and I.
If you are on a special diet for some particular reason, health or otherwise, giving up or changing your diet can be extremely difficult or very limiting. You must be healthy, after all. It shouldn’t become an obsession for you that must be at the forefront of your existence for this season. Ask yourself, “Is this sacrifice going to bring me closer in my relationship with Jesus?” If not, and if it is more about losing a pound or two during this time of penance, perhaps a different sacrifice is more appropriate for you. It’s most especially important to keep this in mind if you find yourself unable to focus on those things that are important, like taking care of your family or functioning at work. If you pay close attention our Lord usually provides much opportunity for sacrifice during Lent. So perhaps instead of giving up chocolate, you may find yourself making smaller but more meaningful choices (sacrifices) like choosing a more healthy option than what you would naturally go for at first glance. Or perhaps your fasting and abstinence will not be about food at all. (There are exceptions for people with health issues! Speak with your priest about it if you have questions or are uncertain.) Perhaps your thing will be about serving your spouse or children their meal more joyfully or patiently. Or instead of just slapping the Mac ‘n Cheese in a bowl and shoving it in front of the kids on the hastily cleared off table, set a nice table and put dinner in pretty bowls and talk about manners. That can be much more of a sacrifice than easily saying no to a piece of chocolate.
Now that we’ve covered some logistical stuff, please enjoy this recipe and the accompanying short video!
A blessed Lent to you, friends.