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"Mom, are these cookies for Fat Day?" My seven year old's words caught me off-guard. "Oh…Fat Tuesday, you mean?" I corrected, trying hard not to laugh. "Right! The day when we're supposed to get fat." I had to hide a smile as I explained, "Well, I made those to thank the neighbors for their help cutting wood this week, but yep…they are perfect for getting fat!"
Hmmmm….perhaps I have a few more Fat Tuesdays in my life that are not on the calendar, I thought, as I eyed the dwindling cookies from the last couple of days.
Some people make goals for their New Year resolutions…I tend to hold off until Lent. Truth is, with my sanguine temperament I have a very hard time sticking to resolutions unless I feel God is holding me accountable. That is why I honestly almost heave a sigh of relief when Lent arrives.
Yes, I know what you're thinking. God holds me accountable all year long. So why is it that I feel like I can successfully fulfill my goals of sacrifice and repentance during Lent yet struggle throughout the rest of the year?
There are probably many answers to that question, not least of which is this: I'm human. (In fact, I'm so human, I could offer myself for research!)
God knows well my weaknesses, and so does the Church. It was with great wisdom that Lent was created. Or was it created??
In the early years of the Church, acts of repentance and sacrifice were all the rage. If you were Christian, you sacrificed and fasted. Why? It was what Christ asked us to do. He set the perfect example of this and asked us to serve others as He served us.
In fact, there is evidence of Lenten practices as early as the year 203 when St. Irenaeus wrote to Pope St. Victor I, trying to explain the different practices between the East and the West as they prepared for Easter. "The dispute is not only about the day, but also about the actual character of the fast. Some think that they ought to fast for one day, some for two, others for still more; some make their 'day' last 40 hours on end. Such variation in the observance did not originate in our own way, but very much earlier, in the time of our forefathers." (Eusebius, History of the Church, V, 24.)
So, the Church has theoretically always practiced some form of deeper preparation of our souls to get us ready for celebration of Christ's Resurrection. It was a natural response to our call as Christians and it organically molded itself into Christian culture. And the Church finally made it official in the year 313 A.D.
But, to get back to my humanness. (Is this really a word?) It has become painfully obvious that life goes on and gets in the way of my preparation for Easter. Really, since each Sunday is a "Little Easter," I should be preparing every day of the year! Still, I know that I need to have a block of time set aside to assure that I will give time to God. Knowing that in God's wisdom this time has been set aside already, I am intensely grateful! And it helps to know that as I offer up Lent, I am joined by the Body of Christ who is offering herself up as well. I am definitely not alone here. (And this also helps hold me accountable!)
Over the last few days my family has been thinking about what we are going to do this Lent. Each person has their own private sacrifices, of course, but we also try to do things as a family as well. My daughter had seen a tutorial on making a polyhedron out of paper plates and helped her brother create one. Then, we came up with the idea to write down a simple act that we could do for Lent on each flat side. So, every morning during Lent we will each toss the polyhedron to see what comes up to do that day. My son, especially, can't wait!!
There are so many wonderful ways to prepare for Easter and each year we choose something different, from Lenten beans to growing Easter grass, from glueing little tissue squares on a cross to a 20-sided polyhedron. They are all just great ways for getting us ready for the Resurrection!!
So, if you are getting out some paper plates to celebrate Fat Tuesday, you might want to leave out 20 extra and let the kids make this craft: http://allfortheboys.com/home/2014/06/16/paper-plate-polyhedron.html. Then, write down some simple things to do each day!
As my son would say, I hope you have a great Fat Day, and may God guide you as you enter into tomorrow, ready to take advantage of the time that God has set aside to prepare our hearts for Easter!
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May your Lent be truly fruitful and fill you with longing for His Resurrection!
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Hi! I'm a Catholic mom who loves to encourage and support others in their journey to live the beauty of our Catholic faith in a modern world. It can be a struggle, no doubt, but God has given us the tools we need! Join my family (both immediate and extended!) and me as we take on this incredible journey of our path to holiness.
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