Happy Fat Tuesday!!

So I really hope this post doesn’t come across as disrespectful in any way. I am in no way meaning to be facetious.

I fell in love with Irish culture when I was serving there as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and decided to make Lent a tradition of my own. The Republic of Ireland, being predominantly Catholic, practices Lent annually and I find great wisdom in the tradition. I may not do it for the same religious reasons others do, but I think any way of exercising self-control and self-mastery can be great. I love testing myself and proving that I have control over myself. When I set a goal, like at Lent, I bind myself to it and feel a sense of liberation. You see, when I bind myself to not eat cookies, cakes, or candies, for example, the temptation is gone because those things are not even options anymore. 

 That’s what I love about the principle of binding yourself to a goal. It frees you from whatever the bad habit is that you’re setting the goal to change. You simply eliminate the option from your life. You can do this with anything, too. Eating habits, exercise habits, study habits, socializing habits, excessive blogging habits… You truly can be master over yourself if you understand the principle of binding yourself to a goal. I just love it. But you don’t want to set yourself up for failure and try to bind yourself to a goal before you’re truly ready to be bound to it. It’s personal at every stage, and you only need to report your progress to yourself and God. 

 And this can be done at any time of your life, not just for Lent. We can set and achieve goals every day! Little, attainable goals, more long-term stretching goals–they really can give you a sense of self-worth and a closeness to Heavenly Father in a very special way. I would invite you to think of something to work towards, a goal of sorts, and to bind yourself to it. Then it will inevitably be accomplished! It won’t be an option to not accomplish it. You will love this principle, I promise. It will set you free!!!

So for fun I thought I might include some background information about Lent and what it represents, etc. Whether or not you have a religious connection to it, it’s fun to practice your self-mastery. I like some of the following insights on replacing the vice with something that brings you closer to God. I had never heard that before. I’d only ever given vices up. So feel free to read on and learn a little something-something about Lent. Compliments of Wikipedia, so take it for what it’s worth:

LENT, in [Catholic/Christian] tradition, is the period of the liturgical year leading up to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer — through prayer, penitence, alms-giving and self-denial — for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Conventionally, it is described as being forty days long, though different denominations calculate the forty days differently. The forty days represent the time that, according to the Bible, Jesus spent in the wilderness before the beginning of his public ministry, where he [fasted and] endured temptation by Satan.

This practice was virtually universal in Christendom until the Protestant Reformation. Some Protestant churches do not observe Lent, but many, such as Lutherans, Methodists, and Anglicans do.

There are traditionally forty days in Lent which are marked by fasting, both from foods and festivities, and by other acts of penance. The three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigor during Lent are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and alms-giving (justice towards neighbor). Today, some people give up a vice of theirs, add something that will bring them closer to God, and often give the time or money spent doing that to charitable purposes or organizations.

In current Western societies the practice is considerably relaxed, though in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches abstinence from [meat and all its derivatives] is practiced, meaning only vegetarian meals are consumed during this time in many Eastern countries. Lenten practices (as well as various other liturgical practices) are more common in Protestant circles than they once were. In the Roman Catholic Church it is tradition to abstain from meat from Ungulates (meaning roughly “being hooved” or

“hooved animal”) every Friday for the duration of Lent, although dairy products are still permitted. On Ash Wednesday it is customary to fast for the day, with no meat, eating only one full meal, and if necessary, two small meals also.

Many modern Protestants consider the observation of Lent to be a choice, rather than an obligation. They may decide to give up a favorite food or drink (e.g. chocolate, alcohol) or activity (e.g., going to the movies, playing video games, etc.) for Lent, or they may instead take on a Lenten discipline such as devotions, volunteering for charity work, and so on.

Roman Catholics may also observe Lent in this way in addition to the dietary restrictions outlined above, though observation is no longer mandatory under the threat of mortal sin. Many Christians who choose not to follow the dietary restrictions cite 1 Timothy 4:1-5 which warns of doctrines that “forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.”

Lent is kicked off on Tuesdays with “Fat Tuesday,” meaning something like the feast before the famine. John and I went to Cafe Rio to indulge! Sometimes people call this “Pancake Tuesday,” and they’ll eat tons of pancakes. Then Lent starts on Ash Wednesday (This year that is February 17). Most of the time people will go to their local priest and get an ash marking on their forehead. It was really neat to see in Ireland, everyone walking around with black marks on their faces. I’m sure there is a religious significance to this but I’m not sure what it is.

This year for Lent I am giving up the following:

1) Cookies!

2) Cakes!
3) Candies!
4) Fast food/French Fries!
There, now I’m accountable. I’ll be keeping you posted on how it goes for me this year. I’m so excited to get my Lent on!


  1. Crystal says:

    Jess this was fun to read! I really didn’t know anything about Lent. Well, I’ve heard of it but had no idea what it was about. I think that’s a good idea to do this for practicing self control… maybe I’ll have to join ya! haha 🙂 Good luck! 🙂

  2. Anne Marie says:

    Hi, its strange for me to see Lent thru an “outsiders” eyes, it has always been part of my life! I remember feeling so weird on the first Ash Wednesday that I was a member and didn’t have the ashes! The significance of the ash is to remind you that you came from ashes and will return to ashes and it is put on your forehead in the shape of a cross and the priest blesses you as he marks you. You are to remeber the atonement by this mark also. Sometime I still catch myself feeling guilty about eating meat on a Friday or sometimes I eat it out of rebellion! Strange what your culture can do to you! I love your posts, thanks so much for seeing the positive in our all too often ridiculed culture, so much bad press about the catholic church you forget that there are good things too. And one last thing, my Granny told me that pancake tuesday came about because everyone wanted to use up their eggs before lent started so they wouldn’t be tempted to sin and eat a luxury like an egg, then the feast of EGGS at Easter! cool eh!

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