For a month now, I've been slowly working through Maria Von Trapp's (yes, that Maria Von Trapp. The real-life would-be-nun who was portrayed in The Sound of Music) book, Around the Year With the Trapp Family. The book discusses how their family lives out the seasons of the Church - the Liturgical year - so fully and beautifully. It is absolutely the BEST book I've ever come across on the subject, very much based on tradition, and I highly recommend it to any Catholic.
Anyways, in her section on Lent, she has a suggestion that I thought was worthwhile:
It is important that Lenten resolutions do not use the negative approach only, such as, "I won't do this" and "I won't do that." They should start positively, with "I will use these three books" (this as soon as the child can read); "I will use the time I save by abstaining from television for this and this...." "I will use the money I save by not going to the movies for alms given to...." (pg. 102)
So here's what I'm thinking:
One year, while we were still dating, Tom and I both followed the Lenten fast used by Byzantine Catholics (they call it the "Great Fast") . It's much more hardcore than we modern Roman Catholics are used to. You have to abstain from all meat, dairy, and eggs. Basically, you're vegan for all of Lent, plus they give up wine and olive oil on most days as well. It was rewarding, but definitely difficult. I got really sick of potatoes and rice. And I have to say that I've been happy to have the "pregnant" or "breast feeding" excuse these past few years to convince Tom that it's a bad year to attempt it again. I do want to make some food-related sacrifice this year, though.
So I am going to give up "junk food". This probably sounds like "Lent 101", but...I have a major sweet-tooth, and have let myself fall into many bad dietary habits of late. Not a day passes that I don't have a dessert. This is going to be grueling. Also, I don't plan to give up eating between meals entirely. If I'm really hungry (hey, I'm still breastfeeding - cut me some slack!) I can have something healthy like fruit or yogurt.
I'd like to also add some additional "meatless" days to our weekly meal plans, since we already abstain from meat every Friday of the year.
Following Maria Von Trapp's advice, let me turn this positive: "With the empty space in my hungry tummy where junk food would have gone, I will instead make sure to eat "at least one fruit and one vegetable a day." Yes, I know. How completely pathetic is this? I have totally different standards for what I let Sly eat and what I let myself eat. It's not that I hate healthy food, but...I am a raging carb-oholic...what can I say??
I haven't fully worked this one out yet, but I know I need to seriously limit my internet usage. Throughout the day, anytime I pass the computer [we still have an old-fashioned desktop, partially for the reason that I know a laptop/tablet/smart phone, etc. equipped with the internet would be the hugest temptation to idleness imaginable for me], I have to stop by to "check my e-mail". This often translates to spending twenty minutes browsing Facebook, linking through internet articles, blogs, etc. and only being torn away because one of my children makes it clear that they need me now.
It's a really bad habit, and I know I need to nip it in the bud. My problem is trying to figure out the best method for "fasting" from internet use. I might keep the possibility of "limited access" Facebook open to me, since there are certain people I can only contact through there, etc. It's my mindless scrolling through the newsfeed that's the main problem. As for blogs, I don't see any problems with the amount of time I spend writing entries for my own, especially since they're mostly written while the kids are asleep and thus not taking me away from my mothering responsibilities. What can become a problem is all the time devoted to reading the many other blogs which I so love.
Should I limit certain things entirely (e.g. no blog-reading at ALL during Lent) or just limit myself time-wise (e.g. only half an hour a day reading blogs, and only after the kids are in bed)? My husband fears - and he might be right - that if I don't let myself read any during Lent, I'll feel the need to "catch up" after Easter. And that would be bad. I still need to work this one out. I'm open to suggestions!
I know that the positive practice I want to replace my excessive internet-browsing with is prayer, for sure. I'm going to nudge Tom to finally resume a daily family Rosary. I'd like to add something else as well. Perhaps I can carve out an hour a week to leave the kids with Daddy and go to Adoration for the first time in...three years?
As I finished writing all this, I began to wonder whether it was appropriate to share all of this. Our Lenten sacrifices are very personal and specific to us, after all. But it will help to hold me accountable, having put it in writing and informed people of my intentions. So I feel comfortable with this.