|Colourful Mardi Gras beads hang on a fence in a Durham, NC neighbourhood. Photo taken by Lyn Francisco using the ProHDR app on an iPhone 4|
With today being Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday, naturally one’s mind starts turning towards Lent, which begins tomorrow, Ash Wednesday. Many people start talking about what they’ll be giving up for Lent as a kind of personal sacrifice. I’ll admit to you that I don’t recall having had such a tradition growing up. I do remember abstaining from meat on Fridays and fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. I also remember abstaining from meat and eating less during Holy Week. We spent more time praying during Lent. I recall praying the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross with my mom and brother. I also remember the Rice Bowl tradition: spare change goes into the Rice Bowl, and whatever is accumulated there during Lent would be donated to help feed the hungry.
I’ve heard many of my friends say they’ll give up things like playing video games, Candy Crush, Facebook, and the usual chocolates, soft drinks, potato chips, etc. For me, since it really hasn’t been a part of my tradition, instead of giving something up, I’m planning to add something. It will be a variation on the Rice Bowl theme. Whenever I have a meal outside, whether or not I buy my own meal or if a friend buys the meal, I’ll put the amount of the meal into the bowl. Whatever is in the bowl by the Triduum (Maundy Thursday/Good Friday/Easter Vigil) will be donated to Catholic Relief Services through their Rice Bowl program. Of course, I’ll also abstain from meat on Fridays. Considering the activities I have in church on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, I’m not sure I’ll fast (we can’t have the organist fainting on the bench during the service!) but if I do, I’ll be sure to time my meal such that I’ll ensure I’ll have the energy to do the jobs I have to do on those days.
The other day, I downloaded CRS’ Rice Bowl App. (By the way, it’s available on iTunes and Google Play.) I’ll definitely be using this app during Lent.
What Lenten practices are you planning to do this year? Please feel free to let me know in the comments section!