40 Days of Lent
Even after years of catholic grade school and high school education, I still need a refresher on the season of Lent, history and the meaning behind events. I may not visit church every Sunday but I do make it a point to attend when I can, say prayers every night with Remi and annually receive ashes. Prior to having Remi I would make some pretty bold commitments like completing 40 days of fitness. I made it a goal to workout no less than 20 minutes each day through lent. I was successful in doing this two times and felt like I reset my body! You will read below that it is important to keep your Lenten resolutions realistic so this year while I may find it difficult to get to the gym each day, it is not difficult to get to my kitchen! I am going to challenge myself by giving up my weekday glass(s) of wine. I am one who thoroughly enjoys a nice glass of red at the end of the day. Many of you can relate to this all to well...calm of kids asleep in bed, showered, pajamas or comfys on and you have quiet time to prep for tomorrow and catch up on shows. All is right in the world (insert slow-mo sip of wine).
So let's begin with a quick Lent recap - Lent is a 40 day season of the church year predominantly observed by Catholics and and Orthodox. Christians and other denominations can and do celebrate too. This is the time of year you will see churches draped in purple symbolizing pain, mourning and penitence. This time is used to pray, fast and reflect beginning Ash Wednesday and ending at sundown on Holy Thursday. Have you ever wondered why people "give up something" for lent? The idea is to abstain from distractions and focus on giving, charity and a relationship with God. Whether or not you are a believer of a greater power, this is a great time and opportunity to familiarize yourself with the Lenten season and reflect.
In compliance with fasting and "no meat Fridays" you will often find vegetarian alternatives such as the pepper and egg. This sandwich is a classic tradition of scrambled eggs and sautéed bell peppers usually served on a piece of French bread. Fun fact: this Lenten favorite was actually created in Chicago from Italian Immigrants during the 19th century.
Ash Wednesday - the first day of lent! Today is the day people receive their "ashes" and spend the day walking around with a smudged black cross on their forehead. Ashes symbolize our acknowledgment of our wrong doings and a reflection of things to work on during the Lenten season. I try and get to mass before work, if I am unable to there is always a mid day or evening service. Remember to not eat meat today!
Maundy Thursday - is the last Thursday before Good Friday. This is the day when the last supper (Eucharist was created) and the washing of the (disciples) feet took place. It was also commanded on this day to "love one another". So why Maundy?? This word is is derived from the Latin word for command. In other words Thursday is a good day to spread the LOVE!
Good Friday - is the day we remember Jesus died. Why is such a terrible thing called "good"? The meaning is to remind us that death led to the resurrection. The sad day of sacrifice and morning has brightness to come. Most schools will have Good Friday off which will add to a nice 3 day family weekend.
Easter Sunday - we celebrate LIFE! We celebrate the rising to heaven and the belief in eternal life. For those of you that are nonreligious, this is the time of year when we hold Easter egg hunts and wake up to baskets full of goodies left by the Easter Bunny.
Lenten Season Resolutions:
Set measurable goals - be realistic in your expectations for season. Write down your goals and try your best to meet them. If you know your schedule wont permit some goals, adjust so you can make good of your promise to yourself.
Spring cleaning - everyone loves a good purge right!? Use this time to slim down your families wardrobe and add items barely worn to the donation pile. Last year we took this opportunity to donate some old clothes and household items. We plan to continue this tradition this season!
Pray - think of this as your "fresh start" to the year. You can pray for forgiveness. Try using this time to reduce your distractions and focus more on opportunities to give back. Bedtime prayers are time for me and Rem to run through our list of family and friends who may be needing a little extra love, health hugs and blessings. Closing your eyes and folding your hands can do a world of wonders for your inner light!
Fast - (or give up something) is very common during this time. The whole idea is to give up something that is part of your daily life for example eating sweets or spending time on social media. In addition to giving up meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays, like I mentioned before I will be giving up my weekday glass(s) of wine!
Be present - we are humans and often easily distracted so this is the time of year to slow down and be in the moment. I have been making more of an effort to be present and in the moment. We made a rule years ago that when we go to/eat a meal, no phones at the table. By doing this small act, we are able to connect and have great conversations.
There are tons of activities to do with kids during Lent if you want to get your family involved. Pinterest has family lent activity cards where everyday is a new chance to share generosity tasks with your kids. Another good idea we found is a Lent Sacrifice Jar. Color code your favorite candies with good deeds and when your kids complete them fill the jar up. At the end of 40 days, your kids will feel accomplished and have a great visual representation of their good deeds! Families can also take the prayer route and introduce 40 days of prayer for different subject matters each day.
Whether you are religious or not, you can use this time give thanks, spread some love and make memories with your loved ones. However you spend this Lenten season, make sure you keep one thing in mind....
Have patience with all things, but first of all have patience with yourself. - St. Francis De Sales
X0 - Katie