Category Archives: Lent
I missed posting the past two weeks because we were away and then I had not too much in my fridge but I wanted to finish Lent out strong so I’m back!
My lunch for today is something that can easily be done at home, but I cheated a little bit and ordered it from Wawa. I only did this because I don’t keep eggs in the house because I don’t like them. I only like hard boiled eggs and the last time I hard boiled them they came out weird and it freaked me out. I’ll probably try my hand at it again soon so we can dye some eggs for Easter, but for now, I buy my egg salad at Wawa.
This sandwich is one of my favorites and is perfect for today. It’s egg salad, lettuce, tomato, and cheese on rye bread. Again, it could easily be made at home if you’re an egg salad fan, and it’s perfect for Friday during Lent.
*One thing to note, however, is that if you are ordering from Wawa you need to customize it because it comes standard with bacon.
What’s everyone having for lunch today?
Today’s lunch is a new twist on an old favorite. It’s not a Juli original and to my classmates it may look familiar. I decided to recreate one of my favorites from our college student center – the PB&J wrap.
Peanut butter, followed by cereal (I replaced ride crispies with Special K because that was what we have in the house), followed by the jelly (jam), and rolled into one delicious lunch!
What’s everyone else having today?
Pregnant & Posting, Juli
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 😁
Pregnant & Posting, Juli
…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”!
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
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.
I’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
I had a dream last night that I was sitting at table and talking with some people I’d just met. There were two middle-aged women who I was taking with when they turned the conversation toward religion. They were members of a thriving chapter of a women’s religion. “I feel so connected to my 300 sisters,” one told me. I sensed that they wanted to invite me into their group, but they were quiet, allowing me to speak.
“The thing about Christianity is, if you’re serious about it, it eventually ruins your life,” I said by way of explanation.
“You were a Christian?” the other woman asked, sympathetically.
“I am a Christian” was all I had to say. I can’t recall the rest of the dream clearly, but I think that was the end of our conversation.
Now I often have strange dreams, and rarely do they hold any lesson, but I stand by that odd statement I made and its apparent contradiction with my own piety as a Christian. The gospel teaches us that “whoever loves his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake shall live.” (I’m paraphrasing.) So yes, following Jesus should eventually, somehow, ruin your life. But dying to ourselves (as we do in small ways in Lent) is exactly what enables us to rise with Christ in Easter. The women’s religion seemed very comforting and pleasant, but being comfortable can’t save our souls. They were happy to be in community with their sisters, but we are mystically united to our brothers and sisters in Christ. (Btw, to my brothers in Christ: I couldn’t live disconnected from you!) So this Easter, rejoice in the knowledge that while our faith is difficult, it is true and it leads us to glory in and through Jesus Christ, who is glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Can I get an “Amen!”
Christ is risen! Indeed he is risen!
Christos voskrese! Voistinu voskrese!
This prayer of the Byzantine rite (and Eastern Orthodox) is recited at all the daily liturgies in Lent.
The Prayer of St. Ephrem
Lord and Master of my life,
Spare me from the spirit of indifference, despair,
Lust for power and idle chatter. (prostration)
Instead, bestow on me, your servant,
The spirit of integrity, humility, patience and love. (prostration)
Yes, O Lord and King,
Let me see my own sins,
And not judge my brothers and sisters,
For you are blessed, forever and ever. Amen.
It amazes me how a prayer written around 400 AD can seem custom-made for the Facebook generation. Just like people throughout time, our generation struggles with pride, greed, envy, lust, and the like. But it seems to me that the many distractions of modern life make us even more vulnerable to some of the sins St. Ephrem mentions. At the very least, I know I am.
Indifference (or sloth) is the vice that makes it so much easier for me to click on “one more page” of a blog (*ahem*Catholicandenjoyingit*ahem*) than to send out job applications, do something considerate for my roommates, or stop by the chapel for daily Mass. There’s a constant stream of games, shows, and sites that we can turn to to hide from God and the world, and that self-isolation can lead a formerly faith-filled person to despair. There’s a loneliness in mass media and frivolous entertainment, an emptiness that crawls into my heart when I’m not paying attention and slowly starves the soul. Idle chatter is one of those things that doesn’t of its own accord, seem sinful, but whenever I prattle on long enough, I end up in gossip, half-truths, or uncharitable comments. So while I may consider idle chatter as more of a temptation to sin than a sin itself, I definitely think that considering the potential for sins of speech before a careless facebook post would be good for our souls and for the world.
After listing these oh-so-familiar sins, the next step in reciting the prayer is the first prostration. A prostration in the Byzantine rite involves kneeling down, lowering my head and kissing the floor. Touching my lips to the rug of our campus Byzantine chapel is a truly unusual and humbling experience. I love how physical a sign it is, how it quite literally embodies the virtues of humility and integrity.
On Good Friday, it’s traditional in my house to turn off entertainment like the radio and TV; we even avoid singing to ourselves (which is very, very difficult for me). Tuning out all those sources of noise really helped me tune in to the sacred events of today. While the season of St. Ephrem’s prayer at liturgy is coming to a close, I think I will carry on that prayer in my heart by making more “unplugged” time to think, pray, and relate to others meaningfully in a spirit of integrity, humility, patience, and love.
God bless you all this Good Friday and always!
“We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”
Then they came to a place named Gethsemane,i and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took with him Peter, James, and John, and began to be troubled and distressed. Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch.”
He advanced a little and fell to the ground and prayed that if it were possible the hour might pass by him; he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.”
When he returned he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
This gospel reading is from Palm Sunday (in the Roman liturgy), but it is appropriate to remember on Holy Thursday. At tonight’s Masses, after commemorating the Last Supper by the washing of feet and the consecration and reception of the Body and Blood, the Eucharist was transferred solemnly to a secondary location. My mom, Mister (who’s celebrating the whole Triduum with my family this year), and I went to Mass at the parish where I grew up. In a recent tradition, the old parish now ends Holy Thursday liturgy with a procession across the highway to its beautiful but tiny stone chapel. The whole altar area was draped with golden cloth and adorned with exotic-looking flowers to suitably greet Our Lord.
Whatever secondary place a church chooses, and however it is decorated, it’s meant to symbolize the Garden of Gethsemane and recall Jesus’ anguished prayer there. There’s an old tradition, still kept by my dad, of visiting several churches in a sort of traveling vigil to pray with Jesus in each one’s little Gethsemane. After my dad and brother finished Mass at our new parish, they met us at the old parish and picked up Mister and me for church visits. We visited three other churches before ending up at our new parish. There, our side chapel really did evoke the feeling of a garden:
As I knelt in each of the five churches, I wondered what I could possibly pray to Jesus when he was enduring such fear and anguish on my behalf. This quiet vigil, keeping watch with Christ when it is He, not I, who will suffer so much tomorrow, reminded me of a few vigils I’ve kept as a friend.
Once, while we were on a retreat together, my friend Kate got a voicemail from a troubled friend of hers claiming she was about to commit suicide. When the friend didn’t answer her frantic return calls, we gathered our youth group and prayed the most heartfelt, urgent Rosary of our lives, until eventually Kate received word from her friend that she was indeed alive and the urge to harm herself had passed. That vigil was definitely one of prayer, and I wonder if it may have saved the girl’s life that there were so many of us gathered together, ready to storm heaven with pleas for her safety. Jesus himself prayed that he would be spared in the garden before recognizing and submitting to his impending passion as the Father’s will. But since we know what must come tomorrow, and it’s necessary to save our souls, we can’t pray with him that he would be spared this ordeal.
Other vigils I’ve kept have been more about listening. I considered becoming a counselor for a time because I tend to attract those in need of spilling their guts. Throughout my college years especially, my bed has served as a therapy room or confessional, my stuffed animals and pillows as unwitting Kleenexes when a friend’s levee of tears finally broke. These vigils (for they inevitably happen late at night) always engendered in me the same uneasiness of how to handle another’s suffering, when I do not suffer as they do.
One difficult night, a very dear friend called me in fear about an endoscopy the next day. He was anxious about the procedure itself and the possibility that it would give evidence of some form of cancer. There was nothing, nothing at all, that I could say to help with that. I went over to his dorm, I think we prayed briefly, and for a while we talked of other things to try to ease his mind. Finally, when there was nothing more to say, I curled up on the foot of his bed and slept there so he wouldn’t be alone. It was that image of myself, lying silently waiting for sleep to come to myself and my friend, that surfaced in my mind as I wondered what prayer I could bring to Jesus on this long, harsh night. I settled on the prayer of my silence. I could say nothing to him, not really. I simply knelt there, acknowledging his sorrow and anguish with love. It’s not mentioned in Mark’s account, but Luke states that in Jesus’ agony, “…to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him” (22:43). When I wonder to myself, “what did that angel say or do?” I can’t help but consider how God and His angels exist outside of time. So maybe, just maybe, the angel strengthened Jesus’ resolve by showing him the many Christians who would devote their thoughts and prayers to that moment, all the things we’ve said to him in our minds and hearts about his Agony and Passion as we pray the Rosary, read the Scripture, or adore him in the Eucharist. Maybe I’m strange for thinking that my present prayer could be known to Jesus 2,000 years in the past. But if there’s even a remote possibility that my intense urge to comfort Jesus in his suffering could actually help his great need for comfort in that hour, then it gives my prayer all the more value. If not, I’m sure he appreciates the sentiment and that it is conforming my heart to his Sacred Heart in some small way.
So I woke up this morning at my usual time and realized that I wasn’t going to mass at 8AM on a week day for the first time in 4 weeks. After mass had become so ingrained in my daily routine, waking up without mass was sort of like waking up without Jesus. It’s kind of like He has already died and now I have to wait for Him to come back. I know I shouldn’t be in mourning already, but it sure felt like something was missing…I began to understand how His disciples felt when they woke up and realized He wouldn’t be teaching in the temples today and just had to remember Him as best we can.
So after all of that, I had to make my decision whether to attend mass tonight or go to my class. All week I had been procrastinating my paper that was due tonight and just kept saying “if I finish the paper by 6, I’ll go to school. If not, I’ll submit it electronically and go to mass.” If you’re a procrastinator, you understand. So I was trying to put off my decision, trying to make it something that I didn’t have to think about even though it was ever-present on my mind. I mean it was all I could think about! Mass or class? Mass or class? It was like I couldn’t focus on anything else. Well, I looked into other Holy Thursday masses, but the earliest was 7 and even if I went to the 7PM mass at school, I would still miss half of class. At this point I realized it was ridiculous to pretend I had a decision to make, I had obviously decided I wanted to go to mass. As much as it bothers me that I’ve missed class (only the second time ever in my grad school career), it bothers me less since my professor doesn’t really seem to care.
The problem with going to a non-religiously affiliated school is that you don’t have off for all Catholic holidays, and I consider Holy Week a time that we should have off. I suppose this reveals to me that I need to eventually work somewhere that I will have off for Holy Week, or at least have the opportunity to take off.
Anyway, I submitted my paper at 5:40 and let my teacher know my decision, etc. I do still feel torn in a way, but when I think about it, the entirety of Lent I have been trying to put God first in my life, and I think maybe this just needed to be done.
God Bless & (happy?) Holy Thursday!
PS I miss having off for Holy Week, if you haven’t already figured that out…