Originally I was planning on writing this particular post about new research in breastfeeding, but I decided that that should wait until next week. Lent begins Wednesday so the topics of fasting, almsgiving, prayer and sacrifice are on my mind. I want to honestly share my thoughts on this topic in the hopes of encouraging other mothers who feel like they fall short in this area, too.
I used to really not look forward to Lent. First of all, it seems to show up so quickly after Advent and Christmas, and I am just not ready for it. Christmas is one of my favorite seasons of the year, because my birthday is so close to it. Oftentimes, my birthday even falls on the third Sunday of Advent, and I get excited about wearing a pink dress or top. Pink is my favorite color (those of you who have requested items for your nursing mothers ministries probably noticed the pink one decade mother rosaries in your package). Secondly, I realized that I compare myself to others' families in terms of sacrifices. I often would strive for doing larger sacrifices (for me) and then by week two or three, I would not be able to keep them up any longer. I would feel like a failure. Plus, I do not think my kids would cheerfully go along with what some other families do for Lent; I don't want them to find their faith a burden. Lastly, I was always unsure if I was required to fast on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday due to either being pregnant or nursing for the last 14 years.
After some reflection it occurred to me that I should stop comparing myself to others and follow St. Therese's philosophy of doing small things with great love. This is what I proposed to my two oldest sons that we do for Lent this year: give up dessert on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent (in addition to meat). Then on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, the kids will fast from media and I will fast from the internet. I suggested the kids make a donation to a charity during Lent, especially since it has been a while since they last did. Also, I personally, plan to catch up on all the literature and CDs I receive monthly as a member of the Holy Family Institute. This plan seems like a good fit for me and my family.
Then I just wanted to mention that EWTN (http://www.ewtn.com/faith/lent/fast.htm) says the following about exceptions to the Lenten fast and abstinence rule:
"Those who are excused from fast or abstinence Besides those outside
the age limits, those of unsound mind, the sick, the frail, pregnant or nursing women
according to need for meat or nourishment, manual laborers according to need, guests
at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving great offense or causing enmity and
other situations of moral or physical impossibility to observe the penitential discipline."
Last Lent, I really thought I should try to fast on Good Friday although I was nursing a 2-3 month old baby. However, when I am nursing, I tend to have a high metabolism and I need a lot of food. I actually didn't follow the exact guidelines of what the Church says about fasting, but I did eat less. However, in addition to nursing such a young baby, I had recently learned that my dad's cancer had spread. The evening of Good Friday, I did not feel well. I was anxious and light headed. I even had my husband take me to Urgent Care. I am hoping that by posting this information, I can prevent other pregnant and nursing moms from having an experience like mine.
What special things are you and your family doing for Lent? Please tell me about it in the comment section. And remember, even small things count in God's eyes!
By Gina Peterson