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?