Paczki, not poonchky.

Happy Fat Tuesday everyone!  I hope you are enjoying getting rid of all your butter, lard, sugar and other forbidden foods in preparation for Lent.

Ok, well, let’s be honest here.  We’re just eating those delicious deep fried doughnuts cause it’s a cultural tradition even though the reason has gone away.  Lent is the Catholic “new year” of resolutions (even if the technical “new year” of the liturgical calendar is the first Sunday of Advent) and we all know we’re going to “fast” from certain foods particularly of the fattening variety.  It’s cause of our spiritual desires, right?  Or is it something else?   Are we fasting from cookies, candies and all things “bad” because we are unhappy with our body that God gave us?

I think we all tend to get our intentions mixed up a bit at the beginning of Lent.  We might cut out pop because “We love it” but what we really know, deep down inside, is that we’re cutting it out because we know it is bad for our health and our weight and this might just be the time to do it.  30 days makes a habit and we’ve got 40 given to us by the church to work on those nasty habits we’ve formed.

Often, we focus on food things.  Are we really all such gluttons?  St. Thomas Aquinas says that you can commit gluttony six ways:

  • Praepropere – eating too soon.
  • Laute – eating too expensively
  • Nimis – eating too much.
  • Ardenter – eating too eagerly
  • Studiose – eating too daintily
  • Forente – eating wildly

Hm.  That studiose one is interesting.  Eating too daintily?  Having too good of manners?  Really Tommy?  Rather, some say that this is being a “picky” eater.  We all know those types.  If we aren’t one, we probably know or have a kid who is one.  But isn’t it possible that our pickyness can extend into denying ourselves of food for vain reasons?

And let’s not forget the other six deadly sins!  Anger, well, let’s try and give up critiquing other spouses or our children.  Sloth, let’s work on washing those dishes right away and not letting the laundry slide.  Lust, let’s pull our minds out of the gutter of television, movies and the rest of the entertainment industry and focus our love onto God and all things beautiful and holy.  Greed and Envy, let’s remember the blessings we have and thank God for them without looking jealously at our neighbor.  And then there’s the big one.  Pride.  Really, it is the root of all of these sins.  We want to be the best, look the best and have everyone know we are the best.  Instead we need to humbly submit to God and admit that maybe we have faults (maybe).  Maybe we have short tempers and no patience.  Maybe we have put on too much “baby weight” and haven’t been able to get it off.  Maybe we are consumed with the pleasures of the world and can’t get enough of them.

So this Paczki Day, let’s focus on stripping ourselves of the true sins in our lives.   Let’s remember that we must decrease, so that Christ may increase in us.  Let us choose our Lenten sacrifices with Temperance (the virtue opposite gluttony).  Let us not be gluttons of multitudes of “things to do” for Lent.   Let’s choose small things to do, little things that will cause us to grow in virtue so that we may be shining examples to our families, friends, neighbors and strangers.

Here’s my tip for you.  Choose three small things.   One thing to do on your own, positive (reading scripture daily) or negative (refraining from facebook).  One thing to do with your spouse, significant other or a spiritual accountability partner (praying a decade of the rosary together, doing volunteer work together).  And one thing to do as a family (give up television on Friday, don’t eat meat during the week, pray the rosary nightly).  Focus on these small things and don’t get caught up in making a million resolutions.  Write these things down!  Comment here, if you would like.  Write them on post it notes and stick them on your mirror or your computer screen, wherever you need them as a reminder.  And then say this prayer:

Lord, I come to you now as your humble servant.  You are the King of all Kings, the Lord of all Lords and you have given your church this season of Lent so that we may become closer to you.  Grant me the graces necessary to decrease in pride so that you may increase within my spirit.  Give me the graces I request now as well as all the ones that you know I need but am too afraid to ask for or may not realize.  I resolve to perform these three tasks throughout the Lenten season as a sign of submission to you.  Give me the graces to perform these tasks and the peace to know that even if I fail for one day I can always start anew.  I look forward to the celebration of Easter as I know that you will increase within me.  I pray also for all those who are embarking on similar journeys so that they may also receive the graces necessary to them.  I offer up all the sacrifices I may endure for those who are most in need of them.  Lord, be with me on this journey, I need you.  I ask this through the intercession of my patron saints, the Blessed Mother, and all the saints in heaven.  In your name I pray, amen.

Now go eat some paczki!

This is the first post in a Lenten series.  Please join me throughout this season of Lent as we reflect on sin, virtue, living our faith in our daily lives and being Catholics in a secular world.  I will pray for you if you will pray for me!