7 Truths About Catholics During Lent

Oh hey there! It’s been a long time since I’ve last posted, mostly because this has been a germ-filled first quarter of the year for the Feeney family. Thankfully, it’s just been a constant stream of smaller things, but it has been an enlightening experience for me, particularly as a wife, so watch out for a future post about my relationship with the Man Flu.

I’ve mentioned that my faith would be a part of this blog, and so thought I might share a few insights into life as a Catholic during this season of Lent. For the non-Catholics out there, Lent is the forty-day period leading up to Easter during which Christians prepare spiritually for the celebration of Jesus rising from the dead. The Lenten Launch Party kicked off on March 6—Ash Wednesday. Lent is a time of self-reflection, fasting, and penance. In other words, it’s fun! 😊

No, but seriously, I do really find my faith fulfilling, and I appreciate the benefits I get from some of these tougher practices that come around this time of the year.

To review some of the basics, on Ash Wednesday, Catholics get a mark of ashes on the forehead to remind us that we are all mortal and will return to ash/dust. This gives us the chance to assess our lives to see what ways we can become better people to reach the goal of getting to Heaven. On Ash Wednesday, and later, on Good Friday, we fast during the day (eat small, simple meals and nothing in between) and avoid meat. We also abstain from eating meat on all the other Fridays during Lent.

Not to brag, but I’ve been doing this Lenten thing for a long time.  And I feel like there are certain global truths you come face-to-face with during this spiritual season. I’d like to share some of these with you.

Seven Truths About Catholics During Lent

1. You will never touch your forehead as much in your LIFE as you do on an Ash Wednesday. The ashes, which initially are applied in the shape of a cross, quickly become a Rorschach smudge because you’re suddenly inspired to use the ol’ exaggerated face palm gesture, itch your forehead incessantly, or wear a headband that you haven’t worn for 364 days. You get the idea.

2. Even if you don’t like tuna fish in general, you WILL crave it during Lent. Except those cravings will only hit on Thursdays—the day beforeit’s the best/ most convenient meatless meal option that you will have during the day. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been dying for, and eaten, a tuna sando on a Thursday, only to realize that I will probably have to eat it for back-to-back lunches. Annoying.

3. Pizza, without the meaty toppings (obviously), is an excellent option for lunch or dinner. However, if you have a family that doesn’t like it, you are in a BAD SPOT when it comes to Lenten meal planning. But in all honesty, you should’ve married better and raised better. So that’s on you.

4. Life is crazy all the time. You might frequently have days where you get going, find yourself in a productive groove, and then realize that it’s been hours since you’ve last eaten, and you’re still good to go. You may, like me, not be much of a “lunch person.” Doesn’t matter. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, days when you have to fast, you’ll feel like death from start to finish, and will be aware of each and every minute that you’re not allowed to eat. You will also somehow see an outrageous number of mouth-watering, food-oriented commercials on these two days of the year.

5. A benefit to today, the first Friday after Ash Wednesday, is that you’ll be rejoicing that today you can eat all day long, it just can’t contain meat. SO EASY! It’s all relative though, and by next Friday, the requirement to avoid meat will feel impossible all on its own. “NO MEAT? HOW CAN THAT BE?!?! THIS IS AN ATROCITY!” Meanwhile the vegetarians and vegans are doing this all day err day. Lent must be a walk in the park for the Catholic vegetarian/vegans out there. (And in that case, do you have to give up something else, like your favorite veggie instead? Deep thoughts….)

6. You WILL get invited to a sumptuous meal at an upscale steak house. And you know what day it will be? A Friday. In fact, there will be many meat-oriented opportunities that all seem to find themselves on that one day of the week during Lent. Your boss will treat the office to a free lunch of meat-laden subs, on a Friday, of course. You’ll hit the grocery store on a Friday only to find it is a meat-eriffic Sample Day. Have kids? Instead of the traditional indoor play place party, yours will be invited to a sausage-making soiree on a Friday night. Ok that last one’s a stretch, but you get the idea.

7. It’s understandable to get confused mid-week if it’s a Tuesday or a Wednesday. These are generally not exciting days of the week. But as a society we are geared towards Fridays, working the week toward this sacred finale, a carrot we dangle over our heads to keep us going. We say stupid things like “TGIF!” and “Fri-yay!”out loudto one another. We get pumped up when Loverboy’s “Working for the Weekend” hits the Lite FM station. And when the clock strikes 5:00 pm, we take off like Fred Flintstone sliding down the proverbial dino’s back to get on with whatever it is that we’ve got planned. My point is, it’s easy to keep track of Fridays, but not for Catholics during Lent. Though there are but a handful of Lenten Fridays, we will all, inevitably, lose track of what day of the week it is and mistakenly take (at a minimum) a bite of meat at some point on the ONE DAY A WEEK we aren’t supposed to. I can’t make this stuff up, people. It’s just the way it goes.