Dear Parish Family:
Very soon, Ash Wednesday will be here and we will begin out observation of Lent. Please remember that Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fasting and abstinence. No meat should be eaten on either day, and only one full meal should be eaten. Two smaller meals are allowable, but those should not equal a second full meal. The past three Ash Wednesdays, I’ve eaten a granola bar for breakfast, a Subway vegetarian sandwich for lunch, and a small bowl of miso ramen in the evening after Ash Wednesday services. (The norms on fasting are obligatory on anyone between the ages of 18 and 59 as long as health permits, and the norms on abstinence from meat are binding from the age of 14 onward. It is meritorious to observe fasting and abstinence outside of these ages provided health permits.)
Lent is a season for prayer, fasting, repentance, almsgiving, and anticipation of the passion, death, and resurrection of Our Lord. There is a long tradition of giving something up for Lent, and this is a tradition I would not hesitate to recommend to everyone. I plan on giving up sweets this Lent.
Some suggest instead of giving something up, a person should take something new on, such as extra prayer, an extra hour of adoration, or volunteering. This, too, is certainly meritorious, but I would suggest instead of considering it a matter of picking either/or one should choose both. Give something up that is not essential to advancing the spiritual life like alcohol, reality television, or sweets and take on something that does advance the spiritual life, like a daily rosary or attending daily Mass.