Ash Wednesday has arrived: a day of fasting (if you are between the ages of 18 and 60) and ashes. This is the beginning of the liturgical season of Lent where we, individually and collectively, engage in activities of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. Today is a good day to pause and take stock of what you want to give up AND to add for Lent. Whichever of the three activities you engage in, if taken to a meaningful level, they involve both giving something up and adding something.
Why is it traditional that we fast from something for Lent? I think the answer was clearly stated in Sisters Max’s and Shannon’s latest Ask Sister podcast. It is worth a listen. During the second segment, Sara asked: What is gluttony, and why is it a sin?
Shannon’s response was framed within the larger context of the seven deadly sins and their partner seven heavenly virtues. It comes down to balance. If you are engaging in gluttony, you are overconsuming something: food, social media, a streaming network, etc., to the detriment of spending time with others and your relationships. Gluttony’s partner virtue is temperance, synonymous with moderation. There is a balance here that must be strived for: while you do not consume as much, you are also spending that extra time with the people important to you.
For me, gluttony is getting personal these days. When I was younger, I had a higher metabolism and was able to eat anything and lots of it—no moderation for me! As I have gotten older, my metabolism has slowed down but my lack of moderation with food is catching up with me as I put on pounds, have less energy—and I recently learned I have high cholesterol. I am no longer in right relationship with what my body needs. So my fast from meat and dairy for Lent, by creating plant-based meals, is important for my health. Additionally, I want to live lighter on this planet--as the adage says: live simply so others may simply live.
Remember it takes a lot of practice, repetition, and discipline to deconstruct an old habit and to replace it with a new one. Thank God that I have 40 days to work on this! What are you choosing to give up AND add this Lent?