Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ashes

Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent.

Although I've been Catholic all my life, I've never really been a "good" Catholic. I didn't go to mass. I never did my first communion. If you were to ask, I had a baptismal certificate and my Mexican heritage so I was good to go.

Then I had the Bubs.

It's funny how growing up and getting married and having a little person for whom you are (sorta) solely responsible makes you start to look at the world differently. I always knew I would want to baptize my baby in my faith. What I didn't realize was how that simple desire to give him this connection to his heritage (for my Catholicism is deeply intertwined with my Mexican roots) was going to bring me back into the fold as well.

I've started attending Mass, every Sunday, even if it sucks to have to get up six hours earlier than I normally do so that I can drive across town to beat the old folks who for some reason feel the need to arrive 45 minutes early. I've been taking classes so that I can make my first communion and confirmation. We even had our civil marriage convalidated, so that it will count as a sacrament. And, this evening, we went to mass together as a family, and as a family, we all got our cross of ashes for the first time. Together.

Like many people, I used to make jokes about giving up something for Lent. Frequently, I'd give up cigarettes and beer. (I don't enjoy either) It wasn't a big thing to me. Last year, however, with my growing interest in starting my journey back to the church, I decided to give it an honest go. I didn't know then all the rules for fasting. Ash Wednesday wasn't really observed, except to mark the start of Lent. I did manage to skip meat on Fridays with only a few minor slip ups where I forgot what day of the week it was. I never went to mass, but did manage to keep to my goal.

So what did I give up? Eating out. Oh yes, and that INCLUDED Starbucks. It was rough, I'm not going to lie. Driving by McDonald's was torture. The day my husband came home with coffee on his breath (Mocha!!! From the 'Bux!!!) almost earned him a night of sleeping on the patio. I had cravings for different restaurant foods at all sorts of random times of day. I was an addict and I didn't even know it!

But that's sort of the point though, isn't it? That we are supposed to want what we give up, and in that wanting be reminded of how we should want for Christ? That we are supposed to make this small sacrifice, to remind us of his big one? That we are supposed to take a look at our lives and our extravagances and be reminded of those who don't have the luxury of those bad habits? That we are supposed to find where we are flawed and try to make ourselves a little bit closer to perfect (not that we'll get there any time soon!) for when we get to Heaven?

I made it all the way to Easter Sunday last year and only ate out once, on a Sunday. I didn't go to mass that day though, so I don't know if it counts. Either way, I was probably healthier for it and we definitely spent a lot less overall on food as well. I was really proud of myself for sticking to it for the whole 40 days and promptly went out to celebrate with a venti iced chai latte from Starbucks.

I know. GAH.

Here we are a year later, and I find us back again with our weight on that fast food/restaurant crutch too often. It was good when we were more broke last fall, merely because the money wasn't there for that sort of thing. Now it is, and well... let's just say I've probably gained more weight in the past month than I did in November and December combined.

So once again I'm going to give up eating out (yes, drinking out too) for Lent. I picked up a 1979 copy of The Joy of Cooking at my local (-ish) used bookstore and I've been studying my 1961 Amy Vanderbilt cookbook. We bought a ton of food at the grocery store. (saved 32% with sales!) I have a co-op basket of fruits and veggies coming on Saturday, and baby, I'm ready to COOK! Be on the lookout for new recipes because I definitely have the itch to try new things in the kitchen.

So, out of curiosity... are you giving up something for Lent? Let me know in the comments. I love that sort of nosy peek into other people's lives. (hence all the blog reading)

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10 Comments:

Blogger Katy and Chris said...

I'm giving up sweets (no big sweat, since I don't really have a sweet tooth). The one I don't know if I'm back on the bandwagon after ALREADY breaking...computer games. Need to. But they're addicting, man.

7:37 AM  
Blogger Felicia said...

I'm not catholic but I am Mexican...and my boyfriend is catholic so we are giving up soda. Ever since baby was born we have been drinking it way too much. Hopefully we can keep it going even after the 40 days.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Awww, your little man with ashes = cuteness. I'm struggling with what to give up, historically it's always been Starbucks. BUT I keep on drinking it after Lent, which, as you know, is besides the point. :) I know it's day two and I still haven't committed - grrr. I might do pop + coffee (just keep tea to prevent caffeine headaches) but fast food is good too... I'm so indecisive!

8:39 AM  
Blogger kingsqueen said...

I'm not Catholic (did a stint in Catholic school though! LOL), but we do Lent also. We've been horrible slackers, though, and do not currently even have a church to go to. The year I was pregnant with my youngest I gave up sodas, and my goodness that was a HARD 40 days! I don't know if it is the same in Catholicism, but we are allowed Sundays off from our fast. Wish I could have given up soda for good, but I love me some bubbles!

9:20 AM  
Blogger Brad said...

I'm not Catholic, but to show solidarity, I'm giving up video games. (I will watch blu-rays on the PlayStation, though!)

(Call of Duty, I hardly knew ye...)

2:45 PM  
Blogger Miss M! said...

You're allowed Sundays off IF you go to mass, if I understand correctly. I gave up soda one year and hardly drink it at all now. Usually when eating out if there are no other non-soda options. I find that after so long without it, the carbonation burns my throat really badly. The exception is Dr. Pepper - it's a MUST with Mexican food!

2:59 PM  
Blogger Paula - Buenos Aires said...

Sawyer is such a handsome baby. :)
Sweet to read how you are doing things as a family. My own respects my doings but won´t share much of it.

I´m doing a progressive thing: one year it was chocolate, the next chocolate and Mcdonalds (we go once a week), this year I´m a bit all over the place because I haven´t found a thing that was hard. I´m not a sweet eater, coffee drinker, dvd watcher but I´m not ready to give up on my computer yet. *sigh*

5:19 AM  
Blogger Suzy said...

Kelsey usually gives up ice cream. We're not Catholic but a lot of her friends are, and she likes the ritual. I'm already doing WW so that's enough for me.

9:46 PM  
Blogger Hooptee said...

I'm not catholic though my mother is. I won't be giving anything up, but kudos to you for all your efforts. In the spirit of lent though maybe I can start going to the gym? Hmm that would be giving up free time and sleep!

5:03 PM  
Blogger Samara Link said...

Good for you!! Giving up eating and drinking out for 40 whole days is a serious goal. The fact that you've done it once has got to feel good. You know you can do it. That's a real sacrifice! Keep us posted on your journey. It'll be interested to hear how it goes. Good luck!

6:32 PM  

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