Christianity, Religion

Catholic Culture: 2021 Ash Wednesday & Lent

Catholic Culture: 2021 Ash Wednesday & Lent

This post is coming out on Mardi Gras (French for “Fat Tuesday”). Basically in the olden days this was the day to eat all the goodies not allowed during Lent before they went bad (pre-refrigeration). That list used to be much much more restrictive than it is today. We don’t go crazy on sweets in our household but we are definitely eating King Cake (I use an awesome box mix from Feastday.co) & tomorrow I will drop off whatever sweets we still have left in the house at work.

This year Lent will be a little different for me (I mean it was a LOT different last year with COVID for everyone). Because I am pregnant I will not be fasting and on Ash Wednesday & Good Friday. And, although we will not eat sweets during Lent, if for some crazy reason I am about to tear up the house without ice cream I’ll find a way to be understanding of the baby’s needs. To be honest, I have not been craving anything so I doubt this will be an issue for me.

Our current Lenten traditions:

  • Ash Wednesday mass & ashes
  • Breaking of our Will’s Ash Wednesday fast with dinner at Sushi Pop (Will & I have done this since before he was Catholic!)
  • Not missing mass for ANY REASON (unless I am horribly sick or in the hospital I am sticking to this)
  • Making a light Mushroom Soup for Ash Wednesday lunch (as it is a fasting & meatless day; but this year I am not fasting)
  • Ridding the house of sweets & showering my coworkers with the things I couldn’t finish eating
  • Not eating sweets during Lent
  • Giving up something for the 40 days (we typically do not “cheat” on Sundays)
  • Adding a daily prayer
  • Doing specific daily kindness for others
  • Stations of the Cross on Fridays
  • Meatless Fridays

So the list above is pretty run of the mill basic Catholic. I get it, I’m no superwoman but I’m trying. One goal I made last year was to try decorating the house for Lent and only decorating for Easter on Holy Saturday, then keeping it up for the 40-day Easter season. Kendra Tierney from the blog Catholic All Year must have heard my prayers because she put together a liturgical year subscription box & the first one is for Lent!

With a baby on the way I really want to make intentional steps to organically living our faith at home & this subscription box will help me on that journey. I am also a member of her monthly subscriptions at the “praying and planning” level. I did the math: in total I am spending just under $500 on her stuff each year. A lot? Yes. But here’s how I looked at it:

  1. If I was serious about making my home feel more Catholic then I needed to put in the work & instead of researching and buying everything myself (more expensive) Kendra has done it for me.
  2. $500/year is doable and there are plenty of stupid purchases I can cut back on or totally eliminate (Starbucks, useless shopping, grabbing expensive on the go snacks, etc). I want my money to go to better places.
  3. I want to support Catholic voices that follow the Church teachings while also supporting social justice and humankind. Too many “catholic” voices this past year have instead been blatantly racist, sexist, and indifferent to humanity.
  4. I want to support all the work she does on the free blog that I have been using for years. I see this as a way of paying for the time I’ve spend reading her blog for free.

What I am doing this year:

  • Our church has a 4:30 pm Ash Wednesday service outside & then off to Sushi Pop (I am going to have to get creative with the whole no-raw-fish-because-I’m-pregnant & no-meat-because-I’m-Catholic conundrum lol).
  • Not only are we going to mass every Sunday & I am also still using my Every Sacred Sunday Journal to get the most out of it.
  • The Mushroom Soup recipe I use every year is from a Hobbit cookbook (yes, you read that right!) but it’s basically vegetable broth + whatever spices you want + mushrooms + scallions
  • Ridding the house of sweets: Officially, you do not have to give up sweets anymore but I like to. Traditionally Catholics did not eat eggs, dairy, sugar, meat, butter and pretty much anything yummy for 40 days. Now we don’t do ALL that. But basically we do not do any dessert, cut back on adding sugar to drinks (coffee & tea), and loosen up on anything that feels like a treat. . .like eating the whole box of Cheez-Its in one sitting.
  • Giving up something: I am not terrible with social media but I would like to loosen up how much I am on it (& I made a 2021 goal to spend less than an average of 1.5 hours on my phone each day). I have decided give up all social media from my phone (probably only going on on Sunday).
  • Doing something good: In addition to our monthly donations to my school’s food pantry, I try to cut back on all unnecessary spending (like my $3 coffee drinks as a reward for grocery shopping lol) and save that money to give to charity. This year I am specifically going to give to local pregnancy centers that help women in distress/low income/no insurance. Figured “pregnant women helping pregnant women” is a nice theme for me for Len (plus I think this is more helpful to the whole-life/pro-life movement that stupid legislation that targets women’s healthcare).
  • Adding a daily prayer: I currently say the Memorare every time I wash my hands (it takes about 20 seconds to say & it is perfect handwashing time!). I am also going to use the Lenten subscription box I ordered from Kendra Tierney at Catholic All Year blog to open me up a new prayer to add specifically for Lent.
  • Meatless Fridays: We don’t usually cook on Fridays (it’s our leftover day) so I will make sure to make a meatless meal on Thursday and at least one other day during Lent to make sure it is an intentional act. However, I do add in more meatless meals during Lent in general.
  • Stations of the Cross on Fridays: I love group stations of the cross but last year they were obviously canceled. I’d like to buy/make/use something to do stations at home so that I am prepared if we ever can’t go to the church on a Friday evening. I love the idea presented in the Catholic All Year blog of a “soup and stations” night with friends all bringing a meatless soup/meal and doing the stations together in the backyard. . .maybe next year!)

If you are interested in some of my favorite Lent blog posts:

JMF

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