Yesterday was Ash Wednesday which marked the beginning of Lent. I attended mass at 6pm and ashes were placed on my forehead (Imposition of Ashes) as a sign of repentance to God. For some, ashes on their forehead is enough observance for the first day of lent, however, having studied in Catholic Schools since kindergarten to law school, I was constantly reminded that we should observe fasting and abstinence. I was not able to sleep well last night and woke up with my conscience bothering me.
There are only two (2) days in a year when Catholics are required to FAST and ABSTAIN from meat. They are during Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. FASTING means we can only have one (1) full meal in a day and ABSTINENCE means no meat. Catholics ages 18 to 59 years old should practice fasting and abstinence on these two days. This was usually easy for me even when I was pregnant. But yesterday was different, I ate 3 full meals!
Yesterday was a challenge. I ate 1 cup of rice, veggie and fish for breakfast because I forgot that it was already Ash Wednesday. And since I am a nursing mom, I starve quickly so I ate another cup of rice for lunch. I promised myself after that meal that I will not eat dinner. I even gave away my sandwich which Doc A prepared for my baon because I was really decided to start fasting. However, by 9pm, I was already very, very hungry! As in nanginginig sa gutom!
To cut the story short, I had 1 cup of rice and a tilapia for dinner and went to bed with a guilty conscience.
I asked a good friend if there are any exemptions, she replied none. Boo hooo!! This morning, I researched and I was relieved that NURSING MOMS are exempted from fasting! Hooray!
Below is an excerpt from the website of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
Q. Are there exemptions other than for age from the requirement to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday?
A. Those that are excused from fast and abstinence outside the age limits include the physically or mentally ill including individuals suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes. Also excluded are pregnant or nursing women. In all cases, common sense should prevail, and ill persons should not further jeopardize their health by fasting.
But this doesn't mean that I will not fast on Good Friday. I will still try my best.
As a reminder, below are the lenten practices prescribed by the Church that we, as Catholics, should observe.
1. Fasting and Abstinence every Ash Wednesday and Good Friday for people ages 18 to 59 years old, subject to exemptions as mentioned above.
Fasting - Only one (1) full meal in a day
Abstinence - No meat
2. Abstinence every Friday of the Lent. There are only 7 Fridays.
3. We should not just abstain from meat but abstain from anything that gives us pleasure during the entire Lenten Season. Abstinence includes giving up a piece of chocolate or a cup of coffee or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
4. We are also encouraged to do acts of charity like giving alms to the poor or taking care of the old and sick; and
5. We should pray especially the Rosary and attend masses.
If Jesus Christ died on the cross to save us from our sins, we can definitely make these small sacrifices for him.
Have a meaningful Lenten Season everyone! =)