Monthly Archives: February 2018

Lenten Lunches – week 2

I cheated a little bit this week. I wanted a very specific sandwich and for it I needed good think bread. For that I needed to go to the food store.

I’ll be honest, this week’s might be less what you’d find in your house, but I happened to have most of it in mine.

My grandma gave us this herbed olive oil at Christmas and I absolutely love it. My plan was to do a roasted red peppers and mozzarella sandwich with it and for it you need a really good bread so I headed to the store. I also ended up at the area where they have all the olives and stuff to purchase and ended up getting a few things there because they looked so good and that included some garlic. You don’t need to use garlic if you’re worried about offending people all afternoon but I don’t care that much so I did.

I also should note that we make pizza at our house so we tend to have mozzarella cheese on hand (especially during Lent) but if you don’t, you’ll need that too.

Anyway, this is one of my favorite sandwiches and I’m so happy to share it week 2 ūüėĀ

Pregnant & Posting, Juli

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Friendship with Christ During Lent and Beyond

My husband tends to comment about those homilies that really stick with you and talk about one from a few years ago. Normally the ones that stick with you are the ones you can relate to, the ones where it felt like your priest was talking directly to you. These are the homilies that make you think and reflect and might change your perspective or incite action.

This Sunday, my priest started talking about Lent and how if our busy schedules caused us to forget about Ash Wednesday, there was still time to decide on a Lenten sacrifice. I had already fully committed to my Lenten sacrifice (okay, confession time: feeling super guilty because Dom brought home soda for dinner on Friday and I felt bad saying “no”…) so I was ready to just listen and not really hear, but then my priest started talking about the apps on our phones.

This caught my attention because the day before I had been talking with my sister and husband about Candy Crush. My sister and I both started playing again a few months ago and my husband is against it. He sent us a video meme about how it was evil and makes fun of me for playing it so much. My sister was even shocked to learn what level I was on. So when the priest started talking about apps, I was listening. It was a quick mention about maybe taking time away from one app and downloading a scripture app or something like that but then he went on.

He began talking about how during Lent we should be looking to deepen our relationship, our friendship with Christ. And I started really thinking about how long it’s been since I sat with scripture. How long it’s been since I dissected Song of Songs and used different versions of the Bible to turn it into my own love letter. How it felt to really feel His Love and truly understand what it was to be close with God.

Lately I’ve just been living my busy life, not thinking much about God, just knowing that He’s there and not really working on building and nourishing our relationship. This promoted immediate action:

  • Step 1- stop an activity that is taking up a lot of time (playing Candy Crush)
  • Step 2- choose a prayerful activity to replace the one stopped to help build your friendship with Christ (reading scripture, Daily Mass, downloading a Christian app, there are a lot of possibilities here)
  • Step 3- really invest in the time you spend with Christ and focus only on that by being in the moment

It doesn’t seem like a difficult thing to do, but I’m already stuck on Step 2. Does anyone have any suggestions for apps? I have a book I can read when I’m at home, but I want something for those lunch breaks and other times during the day to transition me into prayer that can help me to silence everything else in my mind and focus on Christ. That might be a lot to ask but my goal is to really be able to do this more easily by the end of Lent. Let me know what you think!

Pregnant & Posting (& trying to be more Prayerful),

Juli

I’m not satisfied…

…and maybe that’s the point.

The goals of fasting can be seen various ways. It’s practice denying ourselves something good that we desire, which can strengthen us to better deny our evil desires. It’s a sign of repentance and an effective way to call upon God, as we find communities fasting in the Old Testament and receiving God’s mercy.¬† Physical and mental benefits of fasting, depending on what is given up and how much your eating is restricted, also exist. Yet the most common Lenten fasts, giving up some kind of treat or comfort, are often considered childish or superficial. I can’t count the number of homilies, articles, and conversations I’ve encountered telling me, as if for the first time, that giving up a treat isn’t the “be all and end all” of Lent.

It’s not the be all and end all. But it is one of the three ways we’re instructed to repent – prayer, fasting, and alms-giving – and today, it’s the one I’m pondering.¬† The “Daily Bread” Catholic podcast and the homily I heard this weekend got the idea churning in my mind. Any priest who pulls out St. Augustine quotes is going to get me thinking!

You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.

Rich or poor, ancient or modern, we all eat.¬† Every person understands the feeling of craving, whether the deep hunger of an empty belly or the sudden out-of-the-blue urge for (insert comfort food here).¬† Feeding that craving gives us all pleasure and reward. Satisfaction. Sometimes, even blissful relief.¬† If you just had exactly what you wanted, and it was as good as you’d hoped, you’re awash in warm fuzzies. I’m convinced¬†that is what we’re called to fast from.¬† Giving up that visceral satisfaction is what God wants from us in Lent, and at appropriate times throughout life.

That satiation, that sensation that we’ve met our needs, that satisfaction is in some way a lie. We have cravings that can be met to teach us that every craving must have some way to be fulfilled. But our deepest yearnings can’t be fully met in this world. The Church (and through her, the Lord) gives us times and seasons for each side of this lesson. The Christmas season, the Easter season, weddings, and the like show us what satisfaction is. We rejoice, we fill our bellies and fulfill our wishes to prefigure Heaven and to recognize the Kingdom of God breaking forth already in this world. But our culture of rushing from celebration to celebration, of sharing treats and triumphs and hiding longing and loss, is so lopsided a truth that it becomes an outright lie.

There is no snack, no essential oil, no impulse buy, no Netflix original series, no spouse, no fitness routine, no career change, nothing big or small in this life that will fully satisfy us. Lent is one of the times we’re called to remember that.¬† The gnawing in my stomach on Ash Wednesday before dinner can tune me in to that spiritual emptiness I’ve gotten very good at ignoring. Destabilizing our routines of self-comforting and self-rewarding gives us space to analyze whether we’re drawing our comfort from God and storing up a reward in Heaven.¬† Realizing our addictions to “creature comforts” can increase our understanding and care for those who don’t have what we have. So fasting, done well, leads us to desire prayer and alms-giving and can give those two obligations a clearer focus.

I’m grateful that Juli sparked the fasting conversation here, and I hope I’ve contributed something of value to it. As the Eastern Christians call it, have a “great fast”!

Lenten Lunches – Week 1

I know it’s sometimes difficult to get variety on Fridays during Lent when we’ve subtracted meat from our diet, especially for someone like me who rarely enjoys cooking and doesn’t take time to meal prep. I could honestly eat pizza every night and probably will have my fill of it during Lent so I wanted to add variety to my lunches.

My plan is to pack something different for lunch every Friday that may be unique, creative, or just a comfort food. It also will preferably be something I have regularly in my house.

Today’s lunch may sound like something only a pregnant woman would eat, but it is a sandwich I learned of in high school when I started reading (the late) Sue Grafton’s alphabet series. Those who know it, probably know where I’m going with this…

Peanut butter and pickle sandwiches!

I love peanut butter and I love pickles and I honestly love this sandwich – and not just because I’m pregnant. I started eating them my junior year of high school and convinced my best friend to try them too and I think I even made her a believer.

Either way, it’s a good start to my Lenten Lunches.

What did you pack for lunch today? What are some unique dishes I should try? Any vegetarians out there with some good recommendations?

Pregnant & Posting, Juli

The Lent I Didn’t Fast

Ash Wednesday

It’s Ash Wednesday and I’m not fasting. I mean, I was planning on it, up until last night over burgers and chocolate lava cake at Applebees when my husband so kindly pointed out – “you’re pregnant.”

Thanks. I wasn’t sure what was making my belly grow so big.

“You can’t deprive our baby of food.”

“Oh I didn’t mean¬†fasting¬†fasting.” (I’ll have to stop lying and be a good Catholic) “I meant I’d eat like small meals spread out throughout the day.” (Good idea, self) “When the baby’s hungry.” (Good save). “And I’ll still abstain from meat. I mean, I barely eat meat anyway right now.” (I have an aversion to chicken and eat mostly egg salad sandwiches, veggie paninis, or pizza. And, obviously, the occasional burger, which I will not be eating on Ash Wednesday or Fridays during Lent).

So anyway, it’s officially Lent and I’m Catholic and pregnant. Many of my friends have gone through this already and it’s strange to me that we never talked about it – the fasting bit anyway. But, I mean, look at the Gospel from today and I suppose you would see why. No one really¬†talks about Fasting. We wear these ash crosses on our heads and silently acknowledge each other (or look at someone and suddenly go “Oh my gosh, I almost forgot that was today! I’ll have to go to Mass after work!” Which so often happens to me because I prefer morning Mass to evening Mass and have the ability to go before work) but we really don’t have much conversation around Fasting. Or, at least, I don’t.

IMG_20180214_103524I’m increasingly torn between spreading Catholicism by posting my “#AshTag” on Social Media and “going to my inner room, closing the door, and praying to God in secret” (paraphrasing Matthew 6:6). Every year I’m more confused about whether I should “wash my face so that I do not appear to be fasting” (paraphrasing again, Matthew 6:17) or if that is almost like I’m washing away the sign that keeps myself in line and reminds¬†me that I’m fasting (or in my case this year, not fasting) and abstaining from meat. It reminds me of the reason for Lent. Although this whole 40 days is leading up to Jesus dying for us on the cross and then celebrating His Resurrection, Ash Wednesday is the time to begin that reflection. So maybe the cross on my head is a reminder to myself of Jesus’s death and resurrection and I should proudly show it off. So I suppose I’m somewhere in the middle. Keeping my head held high and showing off my Catholicism today while not pushing it on Social Media. Although, one could argue that I am posting on Social Media through this blog where I feel fairly anonymous (anyone reading this already is well aware that I am Catholic) but I really just needed to get the words out and on paper.

I’m not a Theological expert, college was pretty long ago now, so I welcome my friends to chime in on the matter. What are your thoughts on the public posts for Ash Wednesday? Should we be more open about fasting or not fasting? Do you use the cross as a reminder to yourself, or are you more interested in reminding others? What time of day do you go to Mass? And, most importantly, are you fasting and abstaining today?

Pregnant and Posting, Juli

P.S. Happy St. Valentine’s Day