Monday, March 10, 2014

lent :: ponder

some thoughts from me today :-)

i'm NO expert on "lent". i just know it draws me closer to Him, so i do it.

pat came home from work one day last week and said, "you know Sundays are 'feast days', right? meaning you can eat the things you are abstaining from?"

i told him i did know that. but i don't do that.

he challenged me with, "you can't make up your own rules."

so i started researching WHY there are feast days. and thinking about if it was something i was going to do or not.

i learned some stuff!

first, "Lent" first started being observed in the 400's. and up until the 800's, most Christians ate NOTHING during Lent - just drank water - except for Feast days (Sundays)! wow!! in the 800's, it changed to being able to eat after 3 pm. and in the 1400's they could eat after noon.

isn't that amazing? such discipline and faith. we could learn so much from them.

ANYways. there's not that much that i found on WHY you can eat whatever you want on Sundays (Feast days). the reason i did find was the Catholic mass is a "little Easter" (celebrating the Resurrection) EVERY Sunday, so they continue to celebrate that even on the Sundays during Lent.

another source says,
"Feast days are a time for us to relax our fast and enjoy the extravagant grace of our Father." 
Chris Seay

while this is tempting to claim for myself, if i'm honest, i would be eating what i want on Sunday because i WANT TO EAT WHAT I WANT. and i'd rather continue to press into Him for those 6 extra days and have an incredible celebration on Easter Sunday!

{one little thought - some people give up things like cursing or complaining - do they really choose to do those in abundance every Sunday? certainly not, at least i hope not!}

i don't think there is a "right" or "wrong" answer. it depends on your heart and why you would continue to fast or why you would choose to feast!


Leighann said...

working on the sweets thing. i'm unable to give it up totally at the moment. somehow when i'm nursing or pregnant i can't get enough. but today i made it a point not to chain-eat my way through the chocolate chip bag or mindlessly munch on "bad" food. thanks for the nudge in that direction. (can you tell i'm catching up tonight!)

Vanessa said...

hi courtney - i don't know about other faiths, but in Roman Catholicism, Lenten fasts & disciplines are 40 days long, remembering Jesus' time in the desert praying and preparing for his ministry, similarly Catholics are supposed to use Lent as a time to reflect, develop spiritual discipline so they can go out into the world to do the ministry God is calling them to.

A Lenten fast in the Catholic practice, btw, is one main meatless meal (no large portions), no snacks, and two ligher meals (we do salad without protein or clear soups). We don't eat meat (beef, pork, chicken) on Fridays during Lent (some families do this all year round, remembering Good Friday and Christ's passion).

Anyone with a chronic health condition like diabetes, or anyone over 65 is exampt from the Lenten fast rules. Children are also exempt - we do plain meals and explain the reasons why, so daughter can become accustomed to the discipline.

The Sundays are excluded because of the reason you stated, Sunday is also consider a special day set aside (that's from our Jewish heritage and observing Sabbath). That's how Lent is considered to be "40 days" (weekdays from Ash Weds to Easter Vigil - Sundays are excluded from the count.

Cathoiics are not allowed to indulge on Sunday, but they aren't asked to strenously avoid anything they have "given up" and they aren't required to fast on Sundays during Lent.

Because you are not a baptised Catholic adult, you are not bound by the Lenten fast rules or other Lenten disciplines like not singing the Alleluia until Easter, reading the story of Christ's passion and praying in church with our community on Good Friday (we call this "The Way of the Cross").

Catholicism doesn't hold that the Catholic church has any authority to dictate rules for you personally at Lent or any other time - we don't own these seasons or disciplines, they are instituted by God and belong to Him. We believe that Christians in other faiths can be in unity with us and we with them on central matters. So you are welcome to attend Mass on Sunday or any other special service like Tenebrae or the Way of the Cross or Epiphany, just as I can attend a service at your church, although I must attend Mass as well, because we celebrate communion every Sunday.

I don't know about other faiths that practice Lent, but the Catholic view would be that, if your local and central church authority doesn't dictate any rules for its members, how you observe Lent is between you and God.

Catholics use these 'seasons' Lent, Advent, Epiphany and so on to remind us of the central events in Jesus' life. We have a required lectionary where the readings are specified, because doing so allows someone who attends Mass on Sunday to hear the entire Bible in a 3-year cycle. (Of course we can read on our home, too, this just makes sure everyone is covered with biblical wisdom whether they read on their own or not.) There is no "magic" in observing the liturgical seasons, it's just a way to mark both the year and important doctrinal concepts and the life of Christ. You don't become a Catholic Christian by following all the rules and seasons - you do it by following Christ, and the seasons are just helpers along that path. If you never became a Catholic, or followed Lent ever again, you can still be a Christian in the Catholic church's view, because it isn't just the "doing" of these things that makes you so.

This is probably a WAY longer answer than you wanted - sorry! I find that there are many misconceptions about different faiths out there....