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Guide to Lent

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Mardi Gras was this past week. To us Catholics, this doesn’t just mean “party party party.” It also means Lent is coming. (Yes, I’m aware that other sects of Christianity celebrate Lent, too. But I’m just Catholic, so I can really only talk about the way we do Lent.)

Step 1: Choose something to give up for 40 days. 

Most people have heard about this. In order to struggle – Lent isn’t supposed to be easy – you give up something that you like for all of Lent. Yes, you should also probably be a decent human being/Catholic in general and go to church, volunteer, be a better person, etc. But choosing to do that does not excuse you from giving something up for Lent. This year, like many years, I’m giving up chocolate. I’ll admit that I have an ulterior motive for giving it up – chocolate is one of the things that has made it harder for me to look the way that I want to despite all of the other lifestyle changes that I have made recently. Yes, I eat 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. And I also have 3-5 servings of chocolate.

Step 2: Go to church on Ash Wednesday. You should probably fast, too.

Get ashes on your forehead. Confuse people who aren’t Catholic/forget that we do this every year. Also, once you’re older than the age of 16 (I believe), you’re expected to fast on Ash Wednesday. This really means 1 big meal and 2 small meals without any snacks and just water. If you’re pregnant or have a medical condition where you need to eat – such as you have to eat to take medications or your doctor is saying, “Don’t fast” – then you are exempt from this rule. I’m exempt.

Step 3: Stick with what you gave up.

This is probably the hardest thing. Growing up, we always didn’t give it up on Sundays. I guess Sundays don’t technically count as Lent? I’m not sure. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped doing that. It’s so much harder to stick with what you gave up when you’re eating it every 7 days.

Step 4: No meat on Fridays.

Self explanatory. Goes along with the non-self-indulgent thing Lent has going on.

Step 5: Church every Sunday.

We’re supposed to do this anyway, but you definitely should during Lent.

Step 6: Go to church for Holy Week. Fast on Good Friday.

Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil are all technically a part of the same mass, which is cool. I don’t think any of these are Holy Days of Obligation – aka YOU MUST GO TO CHURCH – which is interesting, but it’s still the right thing to do.

Step 7: Break the fast on Easter!

Start doing whatever it was you gave up, go to church, have a big Easter dinner, be joyful, etc.

Welcome to Lent, Catholic style!

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  • I am just about to head to Ash Wednesday Mass and I am still trying to figure out what I am going to give up! I think I am going to do all sweets, ekkk wish me luck! Xo

  • I'm a catholic but not a very good one. The main thing I do on this list is give up something for 40 days. i still haven't figure out what that will be yet!

  • I can relate to this because I grew up catholic as well. I had the hardest time with #3 and I admit I never once fasted.

  • I've been wondering about this! I'm not catholic, or religious at all really, but I usually do the giving something up part anyways, and I was curious about all te rules of lent. When I tried googling it, though, I could only find long confusing explanations that were way over my head!

  • Love this! I too am Catholic and was actually looking forward to Lent this year. I'm giving up all things dessert which is going to be super hard. I'm including all candy, ice cream, cake, pie, cookies, Starbuck's Frappuccinos and anything else that I would eat as a sweet treat. I have a 5 yo daughter so her and I are also doing acts of kindness. I like being able to show her that being kind to others is incredibly rewarding. We do things like this throughout the year, but we're going to bump up our game. We adopted a soldier and have plans to spread some kindness around to the strangers in our community.