Yesterday was Pi Day (and a Lenten Friday) and I intended to make some kind of non-meat pie for dinner. I confess to not (yet!) having mastered pie crust so I count on frozen pastry shells, of which I only had one.
So on to plan B.
I’ve always got lentils etc on hand so I googled <lentil pie> and found this terrific recipe for Lentil Chilli Pie with Cornbread Crust for which I had all the ingredients. I used a dutch oven so that I could simply put the cornbread batter over the chilli in the same pot, and then pop it in the oven.
I served it with chopped avocado, hot sauce, and greek yogurt. And then had it again for breakfast this morning!
Speaking of Lent, this giving-up-refined-sugar thing is working in that (1) every time I crave sugar, I’m reminded of this penitential season and say a quick prayer or make the sign of the cross; (2) my sugar addiction seems to be breaking; and (3) I’ve lost 7 pounds, with no other dietary restrictions.
This sacrifice is the hardest one I’ve done in the 10 years I’ve been Catholic. Giving up alcohol was a breeze in comparison. I’m going to consider continuing on with trying to live with a vastly sugar-reduced diet.
Zou and I went for coffee on our walk back from the library today and i got a bran muffin. It’s sometimes hard to know where to draw the line: is a plain croissant “better” than a bran muffin? I got the muffin. it wasn’t sweet. And I put the little chocolate squares that came with the coffee in my pocket for the chocolate addict who lives in my basement. The one who serves himself small bowls of chocolate chips during Lent because his mother isn’t dealing sugar at the moment.
Today was pretty much a write-off. I managed to miss my sleep window last night and didn’t crash until after 2 am. And this after the stop-and-go traffic for an hour and a half on my way back from Barrie yesterday.
I didn’t make progress on any of my projects, but rather got sucked into a genealogy vortex for a couple of hours this morning, lay down on the sofa to read after lunch, and crashed for four hours. Awoke to darkness except for the glow of my herb garden.
And isn’t she beautiful? My mom gave it to me for Christmas and I had to find a place in my cluttered kitchen/study to put it. I finally got it set up a couple of days ago, and today I noticed some shoots starting to emerge! I see fresh herbs in my future.
I missed Ash Wednesday mass yesterday with my outing, which was coordinated with others before I realized what day it was. My Lenten intentions this year include … gulp … giving up sweets (not including fruit or other naturally sweetened whole foods.) And of course to follow the prescribed fast days. How does this play out for me? No frozen yogurt bar halfway through the afternoon. No ordering meaty pizza on Friday nights. No chocolate bars or baking pies or putting Nesquik syrup in my afternoon iced coffee. No apple fritters at Tim Hortons when I’m on the road. I should probably avoid my organic nut and seed bars because, lets be honest, they’re full of honey and are really just a protein-heavy, gluten-free candy-bar.
There is a debate among Catholics of good faith about whether Sundays during Lent should be a wild card, exempted from the fasting and other promises. I’m going to call it a “no” for this year at least, as I suspect I am fairly addicted to sugar and getting it mostly out of my system for 40 days in a row is probably better than a little binge every seven days.
I had a momentary debate with myself about the Foundry Cider I pulled out the fridge to go with my dinner. Sugar? Na. But I thought I’d check the nutrition label and found that there isn’t one. But there’s this instead:
I don’t want to be legalistic about all this. We’re also called to acts of charity and spirituality, for which I have planned. But there are good reasons why Catholics have these traditions and rules. Every time I crave something sweet over the next forty days, I am reminded that my suffering is nothing. And that’s great preparation for the highest of feast days that we approach.
Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s The Gargoyle Code is a twenty-first century homage to C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters. A set of missives from a Master Demon to his trainee (with adjustments at the end for some plot twists), this slim volume is a sharp look at sin in this decade. The master (Slubgrip) writes to his devil-disciple Dogwart with advice in handling “patients”, the earthly beings they are charged with tempting. The former’s patient is an elderly male conservative Catholic who has cancer, the latter’s a lazy,TV-watching Catholic High School graduate who is getting involved with a young woman. In the course of the book, we learn about both parties, their successes and failures, as well as Slubgrip’s views on various types of sin, the ways to induce them in patients, and the human acts that stymie them.
Longenecker is very insightful in his take on spiritual warfare, in how easily we can slip into various types of sin, and the acts of our faith that can serve as a sort of immunization against temptation. From staying up late on Saturday night and missing mass the next day, to the self-righteousness that is sometimes associated with traditional Catholics, Longenecker doesn’t leave many stones unturned. Most everyone will see themselves portrayed somewhere in this book, and in his opening “Letter to the Reader”, he asks us to read this story as if we were looking in a mirror.
The set of letters are written over the period of Lent, with a letter or other communication for each day in that period, which makes it ideal reading for this time of year. But it’s a worthwhile read at any time, and is quite convicting. He makes a strong case for self-reflection, for holding on to some traditional faith practices that keep us close to God, and asks us to consider where our weaknesses are, that is, where we may be prone to temptation and sin.
At the same time, and entertaining and thought-provoking read. Highly recommended!
….I will abstain from watching television or movies
….I will attend a weekday mass at least once per week
It’s not that I think watching TV is bad or even particularly wasteful of my time. I don’t watch that much, and it’s only in the evenings with my family. But I need some peace and quiet to enter fully into this season. Some space to read and reflect. It’s also for this reason that I will get to an additional mass each week. The daily Lenten retreat will give my mornings some focus and start my day in meditation and prayer.
This week's theme is "Renovation" and I've taken a Lenten approach:
mark of ash recalls
we are dust, but nonetheless
we are truly loved
season of penance
time for work on heart and soul
turning towards God
June Cleaver After a Six-Pack has a great post today about Lent and her childrens’ ponderings about potential Lenten sacrifices. A snippet:
Aaron is not as strong willed as Hope. He gives things up like, looking at his baseball cards (that he can’t find) or not wearing his favorite pair of black socks (that he left down at the creek when he took them off). He is also very good at “forgetting” or “changing his mind” midstream into Lent. If he gives up video games this week (because he is grounded from them due to his tackle/pushing of one or all of his sisters) he will change his mind next week when the ban on the Wii is lifted and he just can’t take the temptation. He is a week-to-week kind of guy.
We’ve had a number of discussions of late around the dinner table about Lent. Alex (17) will be giving up ice cream and arguing with his brother (14). The first is the sacrifice. The second the spiritual practice. I told him not to tell his brother what he’s doing, to just do it. He is sure that he will mess up frequently, but I told him that it’s okay… and that it’s a great thing to try. He made it 25 minutes this morning after they were both awake. He complained that Michael left his toothbrush on the powder room sink. Michael replied that at least HE brushes his teeth before school in the morning…yakety-yakety-yak….and they were off. Gah!
Michael, the self-proclaimed non-Catholic in the house is not giving up anything, but he will make casseroles for the Good Shepherd Centre each weekend with his father because it counts toward his community service required at school. So that’s almsgiving. See? We tricked him into a Catholic practice.
Z is going whole hog. No sweets, no TV (this is HUGE), and no alcohol. I reminded him that we will be in Mexico for a week in the middle of Lent but he insisted. He’s so holy. Just giving up his blessed TV5 (France) in the morning while he shaves is huge.
I am going, well, modest. No fast food (sacrifice). Daily meditation from Show Me the Way: Daily Lenten Readings
by Henri Nouwen (spiritual practice). On the former, I confess to planning my errands midday so that I am **forced** to stop for lunch and eat a burger, or poutine, or sushi lest my blood sugar plummet, I crash the car, and my children are left motherless. I am such a fraud. It’s over. It’s over for the next six weeks, at least.
Easter Dinner at New York Fries, anyone?
It was a strange day. The Toronto area has been hit by a huge snowfall. Z is out of town on business. Half an hour to dig out the car to get to mass at noon, which was peaceful and exactly what I needed to start Lent off on the right foot. A call from the Dean of Discipline Students at the boys’ school regarding, well, I won’t say. Simple supper of soup, bread, and fruit. Boys were unusually calm and friendly with each other. Early to bed.
My plans for Lent include giving up desserts, saying Morning Prayer each day by 9:00 am, and going on a weekend retreat at the end of this month. I’d also like to get to weekday mass one day per week.