Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fasting and abstinence

After Ash Wednesday mass yesterday, Mamu, Kai, Nana Tin, Keona and I went to Southmall. The original plan was to watch "Bridge to Terabithia" but my sister changed her mind about going with us, so we had dinner instead. I had fish and fries, my sister had a tuna sandwich, my mom had seafood kebab, Nana Tin had a tanigue (mackerel) sandwich, and Keona had mashed potatoes, tomatoes and carrots from my mom's plate.

I had been open to eating chicken (and was in fact eyeing Inasal Chicken Bacolod), but Mamu told me it wasn't allowed. And she's right. Now, I didn't know that. Seventeen years (I added my graduate school years) in a Catholic school, and I didn't know that.

So I guess that means I'm having no chicken for sure until Palm Sunday.

When Pioq, my sister's husband, arrived, he told my sister that he had eaten the ground beef she had packed for his lunch. "You will burn in hell!" I joked. And I really was joking--I don't subscribe to the belief that whatever you eat will decide your afterlife. (But ask me again when I fully understand Buddhism).

I believe, however, by virtue of common sense more than religious affiliation, that whatever you eat and don't eat will affect your life. As they say in both nutrition and writing, "Garbage in, garbage out."

As for this Lent, I'm not abstaining from meat or fasting because I don't want to go to hell. I'm doing this because I want to be a better person to be able manifest God's love better.

In the words of St. Augustine in his Sermon on Prayer and Fasting:

"Abstinence purifies the soul, elevates the mind, subordinates the flesh to the spirit, begets a humble and contrite heart, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, extinguishes the fire of lust, and enkindles the true light of chastity."
I also got a forwarded email with a PowerPoint presentation attached. It contained tips for a different kind of fasting. I've copied-and-pasted them below:
1. Fast from anger and hatred. Give your family an extra dose of love each day.
2. Fast from judging others. Before making any judgments, recall how Jesus overlooks our faults.
3. Fast from discouragement. Hold on to [God's] promise that He has a perfect plan for your life.
4. Fast from complaining. When you find yourself about to complain, close your eyes and recall some of the little moments of joy Jesus has given you.
5. Fast from resentment or bitterness. Work on forgiving those who may have hurt you.
6. Fast from spending too much money. Try to reduce your spending by ten percent and give those savings to the poor.
So in sum, over the Lenten period, I will:

1. Abstain from red meat and chicken.
2. Abstain from refined sugar.
3. Go to mass everyday.
4. Fast from anger and hatred.
5. Fast from resentment or bitterness.

 
Wish me luck!