Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Fast... Preparing for Lent

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time thinking about Lent this past week. After learning last year that even attempting to fast while nursing is a very, very bad idea (let’s just call Ash Wednesday ‘09 a little disaster in our cabin and leave it at that) I’ve been giving a lot of thought about how to prepare for Holy Week.

Fasting actually seems to be out for the indefinite future. Last year I was nursing. The year before I was pregnant. And this year, as many of you know, I am both nursing and pregnant (I see a pattern beginning to develop here). After being a vegetarian for ten years (from the ages of 10 to 20, roughly) giving up meat for Friday’s won’t even be particularly difficult.

Actually the last time that I really tried to fast was in September/October of 2007. We were preparing for our trip to the holy land and had been reading a lot about fasting. Paul and I had been particularly inspired by a young couple who fasted for forty days before their wedding (we’re talking about two small meals and one normal sized meal a day in this case) and thought it would be a wonderful way to prepare for our journey to Israel and the West Bank.

I didn’t last forty days. After a couple of weeks of faintness and dizzy spells Paul said that he didn’t think I was physically capable of fasting (for long at least). When the nausea started a couple of weeks later we learned that it was actually something else altogether. I was expecting.

The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve begun to think that the discomforts of pregnancy (particularly in the first and third trimesters) are a fairly equal trade when compared with the discomforts of fasting (although I guess they don’t really involve self control, because you don’t really have a choice about running into the kitchen and breaking your fast with the whole pregnancy thing).

Unfortunately, in my case (both times) the second trimester has matched up perfectly with Lent, so I am entering into that joyful time when I feel like I could be pregnant forever.

So I’m looking for alternatives (I really appreciated the discussion about this on CAF! It makes sense with all the nursing/pregnant Catholic moms out there I wouldn’t be the only one giving this some thought). I’m leaning towards the suggestion of completely cutting out junk food as one mom suggested.

With my recent powerful cookie cravings that could be a real test of self-control in the coming weeks.

And to keep this post from becoming too long, I’ll call it a night for now. While I love Advent and the Christmas season, Lent gives me so much to think about…

Ramblings on prayer coming soon…


  1. I now exactly what you're talking about. My husband absolutely forbids fasting for me while pregnant or nursing. And that encompasses pretty much our entire married life! lol! But there are many ways to fast. Many, many ways to die to ourselves and our selfishness without hurting ourselves or our babies. I have done cutting out junk food completely and that was good in so many ways! Other times I just have to eat what will stay down and that may mean a big bowl of ice cream:).

  2. I will be doing an internet fast. I use it far too much, and I'm going to give it up whenever abstinence or fasting is called for during Lent this year. (I too, will be in the second trimester, although I do not experience the honeymoon period that most do)

  3. We were just talking about that last night! My husband said, "Wow! Are you actually going to be able to fast and abstain this Lent? I don't think you've ever had to!"

    I was pregnant, then nursing, then pregnant, and then nursing...four years in a row. So, I told him, "Well, I guess we'll find out this week or not if I'll be participating."

    Oh, how I would laugh if we found out we were expecting--right before Lent started! :-)

  4. I've been pregnant or nursing for 10 years now. :) I am nursing a 6 month old. I cut out in between meal snacks and had less of a meal than I usually have. I agree that abstinence is almost too easy. Former veggie as well. We try to do it year round. Last year (pregnant) I did not eat less but I did not have sweets. A dear friend advised me to keep in mind the spirit of the fast in that way.


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