Friday, April 17, 2009

A Fast Aftermath

Sweets really ain’t my thang. Sure, I’ll have a piece of cake if it’s sitting in the kitchen, but just a couple of bites is plenty for me. I have no problem passing on the donuts in the lunchroom. I’ll opt for the cheese ‘n crackers from a vending machine over a Milky Way bar any day of the week. I don’t even put sugar in my coffee. Sweets are just not my vice. So this year, I didn’t give up sweets for lent.

Instead I gave up meat: beef, chicken, pork. I lived for 40 days on fish, vegetables, bread and pasta. That's right. No hot chicken wings. No ranch-cheddar-bacon burgers. No bacon. I love bacon. By Holy Week I nearly chewed off my left hand. It was a good sacrifice. It was the hardest fast I’d ever made. I felt the pain of this sacrifice right up until midnight after the Easter Vigil when I practically flipped my head open to take a bite out of my enormous bacon cheeseburger on mountain rye bread, lightly toasted (just like the one pictured here--the messier the better).

From Ash Wednesday through the Vigil, I did not receive any comfort for my sacrifice at all. No amount of prayer during my moments of weakness gave me any sense of closeness with my Lord. I knew, however, that I was being taught a very important lesson: no matter how good I think I am, I am still far too attached to this world. I realized it a few moments after I sank my teeth into that messy, greasy, delicious burger. I savored that first bite, glad that I was done with this crazy fast, and kicking myself for such a severe self-imposed penance. Then a dark feeling began to bother me those few moments later. Know what? It still bothers me.

Early on during lent I declared with pride, “I think I can continue this fast all year on both Wednesdays AND Fridays.” Then the first Wednesday of Easter came and went. Lunch was leftover Chicken Piccata, dinner was fried chicken that my husband brought home from a local grocery store. (Seriously—how do you resist IGA Fried Chicken?! For Youngstown, Ohio locals, the one in Struthers at the corner of 5th and Creed. For everyone else, woo, you're missin' out!)

Knocked down another notch.


Last night, with Divine Mercy Sunday only a few days away, I curled up for a little while with Divine Mercy In My Soul by St. Faustina Kowalska. The pages of this marvelous work revealed to me the reason for my soul’s discontent:

God made known to me what true love consists in and gave light to me about how, in practice to give proof of it to Him. True love of God consists in carrying out God’s will. To show God our love in what we do, all our actions, even the least, must spring from our love of God. (279)

ALL OUR ACTIONS, EVEN THE LEAST.

What would my sacrifice mean if I spent the whole time whining about it? What would anything I do for the Kingdom of God mean if I didn’t live my life as a Christian in EVERYTHING I do? We can sit in church all we want, and it will do us no good if we are not living a truly Christian life in even the smallest details.

In my case, my whining about my fast—a fast that I imposed on myself to prove how much I loved God—only proved how much I love meat, and how I put it before my Lord.

I wonder…what other things do I put before my Lord?

8 comments:

mary said...

Oh Gina!
I'm so glad you are reading Faustina. She is a real blessing to me in that any time I am overcome with fear I have learned to say and really mean "Jesus I Trust in You"

Gina said...

Mary, I am totally a fan of Faustina. I shouldn't wait until Divine Mercy Sunday rolls around to read from this masterpiece. You just gave me confirmation that I'm in the right place, Mary! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING!

Ed Fire said...

Great blog Love.........
I am so proud of you for making it thru Lent without cheating. Can't say the same for myself. Let me tell you, it wasn't so much the "Giving Up" during Lent that makes you such a special person,it was the un-selfish giving of your talents to the local Church that makes you very special.Oh..... And just a little correction......It is Struthers IGA at 5th and Creed that has the best chicken in town. I Love You Eddie Ray

Gina said...

Thank you for reading my stuff, Love of my Life! I did struggle with it--and you'll do better next year. What makes you special to me is your constant support of all of my endeavors. You keep me going!

I'll fix the chicken reference in my post!

I love you.......

Anonymous said...

MY SWEET SISTER GINA, 4/19/09
YOU NEVER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE ANGER AND DISAPOINTMENT OF GOD IN YOU BECAUSE YOU MAKE YOURSELF FEEL MORE DISAPOINTMENT IN YOU THAN GOD CAN EVER BE CRUEL ENOUGH TO HAVE....YOUR DEAR HUSBAND ED TOOK THE WORKS AND THOUGHTS RIGHT OUT OF MY HEAD. REMEMBER GINA, DON'T GET CAUGHT UP IN THE "FALSE ILLUSION" OF WHAT WE NEED TO "GIVE UP" FOR LENT.....IF YOU LOOK INSIDE YOUR OWN EVER INSIGHTFUL AND COMPASSIONATE HEART YOU WILL REMEMBER THAT: THE LENTON SEASON DOES NOT EVER HAVE TO BE ABOUT "GIVING UP"...JESUS ALSO ACCEPTS OUR "GIVING TO" ALSO.... ACTUALLY, HE PREFERS IT... AND TRUST ME DEAR GINA, NOONE BUT NOONE GIVES TO OTHERS FROM INSIDE HERSELF MORE THAN YOU DO EVERY MOMENT OF YOUR DAILY LIFE!!!THAT IS WHAT TRUE CHRISTIANITY AND LOVE OF JESUS IS ALL ABOUT. DON'T THINK ABOUT HOW WEAK YOU WERE TO A HUMAN NECESSITY LIKE FOOD. BUT RATHER, THINK WBOUT HOW, DURING THE FOURTY DAYS OF LENT AND EASTER WEEK, HOW STRONG IN SUPPORT AND COMFORT YOU WERE WITH EVERY FAMILY MEMBER, FRIEND, CO-WORKER, STRANGER, OR EVEN THE FORGOTTEN YOU HAVE BEEN THESE DAYS OF "GIVING TO"!!!!! WE HUMANS FIND IT MORE CONVIENANT TO NOT EAT A BURGER FOR A FEW MONTHS THAN TO ACTUALLY STEP OUT OF OUR COMFORT ZONES AND JUST BE KIND TO......WHOMEVER. EXCEPT FOR YOU. NOTHING YOU DO EVER IS FOR YOU AND YOU ALONE. AT EVERY WAKING MOMENT YOU ARE EITHER UNCONSCIOUSLY PRAYING FOR SOMEONE ELSE, OR SAYING WORDS TO NOT HURT SOMEONE'S FEELINGS, OR EVEN TO LOVINGLY BRING PEOPLE YOUR GRAPE LEAVES "JUST BECAUSE". EVEN IF YOU THINK WHAT YOU ARE DOING AT ANY TIME IS FOR YOU, TRUST ME ON THIS DEAR GINA, I AM QUITE SURE AT LEAST ONE OTHER PERSON IN THIS WORLD IS BENEFITTING FROM WHATEVER YOUR DOING, SOMEHOW....GO EASY ON YOURSELF AND GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK. GOD DOES, YOU KNOW FOR SURE.....IN FACT GOD LOVES US ALL UNCONDITIONALLY ALWAYS!!!!! WHO KNOWS, IT MIGHT EVEN BE HIM WHO MADE THE "SECRET" TASTINESS TO THAT CHICKEN YOU LOVE SO MUCH. HA HA...I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH, YOU SWEET CARNIVOUR YOU, LOVE ALWAYS. JANET...

Gina said...

Janet, you are just too much.

One of the things that I've discovered along the way is that fasting is meaningless if it's not done for the right reason. My fast, even though it's not a "necessity", is a desire in my heart, so that I might understand the sacrificial love of Christ more intimately. I realize that I have a long way to go---maybe not compared to some people in this world, but compared to my Lord? woo. I'm way off.

And you, my dear, are a fine example of this kind of sacrificial love, as you sacrifice yourself for your sisters, and give whatever's left to your Church community. You're a great person, Janet, and a wonderful example for many who see you. Keep plugging, and do it with JOY!

Nicole Z said...

I don't know how I missed this one! Girl, very well said. The same IGA has the best cake in the Valley, and I have tasted a lot of cake.

On a serious note, you clearly made a sacrifice, but you also understand how we put worldly things before God. This was enlightening to me because it usually takes me a very long time for something so simple to really sink in. It is an interesting thought..how we can let something we think of as insignificant go before something SO significant. Wow. You are deep dude. I love it. And I love bacon, but I love God more.

Gina said...

That IGA is where we got our wedding cake! Struthers IGA, everyone, best foodstuff in town!

ok, back to the serious stuff....you write: "how we can let something we think of as insignificant go before something SO significant." This is VERY well stated, and I think one of the most important things we can learn. No matter who we are, or from what walk of life we come, no single thing we have or want or think we need is more important than God.

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