Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fat Tuesday.

As a recovering Catholic, I don't celebrate the Lenten season by giving something up for 40 days to see how "the other side lives." Rather than spend 40 days out of the year without one of my modern conveniences, I simply choose to live a life of service 365 days by volunteering for a variety of causes, giving away 15% of my already TINY nonprofit income and working with the homeless on a daily basis. I'm not knocking people who celebrate Lent, mind you, but rather asking why some of you might put so much emphasis on this train of thought only once per year.

The concept of Fat Tuesday, however, always fascinated me. Spending the day and night eating rich and fatty foods to prepare for 40 days of "fasting." It's interesting to me because Fat Tuesday is essentially how I have treated my diet in the past.

Every night was Fat Tuesday.

"Oh, I'll just start over tomorrow, so tonight I might as well eat this entire tub of ice cream."

There's not much different from the mindset of an overeater to that of someone "eating" in preparation for less food. We are biologically built to seek out fatty foods to sustain us in times of famine, but people... this is the Western World in the modern age. If you're reading this, you're not likely to ever experience a time of famine.

I've spoken with my Grandmother about times in the Depression (something people are comparing our current economy to). They would ration a bag of oats or flour, a small handful to each child, which would then be chased by as much water could be found and tolerated to puff the stomach up and give the illusion of full. People these days do this to themselves by means of FullBars and stapling surgery.

One thing I don't think we realize is how blessed we are and our many blessings have led to that very thing that curses us.

Why not spend this Lenten season fasting from entitlement, even if mentally, and consider your life if the most you had was a handful of oats and flour and a dirty glass of water. Maybe, for some people, our motivation can come in the form of guilt. Rather than finishing everything on your plate because "children are starving in Africa," take that as an opportunity to eat less of that processed packaged food and send it to your local food bank.

Anything with an expiration date that goes beyond your next birthday should kind of freak you out anyway.

Or, maybe this Lenten season, you simply decide to give up the ghost and really crack down on your weight loss journey because that way, you WON'T sacrifice time with family and friends later in life when we'll all need each other the most.

What is your take on Lent?


Meg Canada said...

To me (a Candidate for the Catholic church seeking confirmation on Easter) Lent is not about deprivation, but rather about a re commitment of faith. I intend to use the time to make better choices that are more in line of my beliefs. It is a time of heightened sensitivity rather than of token sacrifice. It is also a period of reflection and prayer. Reducing Lent to abstinence from one food or another diminishes its meaning.

Still, as with most Western religious traditions, lenten fasting probably has some roots in seasonal (agri)culture. From wikipedia on the origins of Lent, "in the West as food stored away in the previous autumn was running out or had to be used before it went bad in store, and little or no new food-crop was expected soon."

Jen, a priorfatgirl said...
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Jen, a priorfatgirl said...

very thought provoking! I'm not Catholic and have never practiced Lent or doing something for 40 days so unfortunately am not at liberty to speak much about it but definitely appreciate your post today!

nic said...

Thanks Meg! It's actually great to hear from someone who is *choosing* the catholic faith versus having been born in to it.