A lot of people are observing Lent by avoiding meat on Fridays and of course on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday most especially. Why, most especially? Because many Catholics, raised Catholics, have turned to other faiths or practices and probably by default are just abstaining because Mother decides on what to serve at home.
I know of two families, one with children in their thirties and one with children in their fifties, whose mothers made them go to church, sent them to catholic schools, but alas! No one in his or her adulthood goes to hear mass now. Why? Well, at the end of the day, religion is a way of life and is a very personal matter. No amount of parental advice, request or coercion can make one do things for one’s soul. It is all very personal.
During Lent, there are people who abstain from meat and other mundane habits. There are those who conveniently remember it is Friday and decide to abstain only during those days—all seven Fridays during Lent.
For me and my ECHOstore partners it actually has been one detox to the next. No meat for a year or two, only fish during Lent. No white rice. No chicken for Lent. Whatever we decide to skip, it is done with both faith and health in mind. But quietly and as they say in one gospel: Do not fast and look hungry and forlorn. So people can only guess what we do not eat, at this time or another.
In the end, it is also about self-control. If you can control what you eat, you are the master of your body. Fasting and abstinence is a personal choice. I do not mind if my tablemates wantonly eat indulgent food while I have my rice and vegetable meal. That is their choice.
One favorite pastime of mine now is watching people during breakfast buffet meals in hotels. By the size and shape of their figures you can almost guess what they will eat.
Skinny people can last with a piece of toast and coffee. The larger ones would have heaping plates of meat and rice, fruits and what-have-you, and may go back for seconds. That is a personal choice.
Then we have business class in planes (or first class), where they serve you almost every half hour, yet most of the passengers will skip the meals, save for a glass of wine or champagne. Ah, the irony of life. When you have much to choose from, you do not want it. When you are wanting, there is not enough.
I also watch families who eat together. Most teenagers and younger ones would be on their gadgets eating mindlessly and just stuffing what they can so they can play after eating. Or so they can go on Facebook and tweet in peace while “joining” a family repast. Tsk tsk.
That is how we have become.
So, lent or no lent, abstinence or no abstinence, it is about the joy of breaking bread with family or friends. Have we lost the art somehow? Did we forget that people work for their “daily bread” and that we must mindfully partake of the blessings on the table?
So back to Lent and Abstinence. It can be good for the soul and good for the body, too.
Imagine forty days of not having to tax your organs to digest meat. Or having to deal with all the oil and fat from rich food? If you are not a devout Christian or Catholic, you must be Moslem? Then, there is Ramadan, another period of duty, self-control and sacrifice. If you are of any other faith I may not be familiar with, my apologies. Whatever your faith, it is about a short period of sacrifice and reflection. We fast from food, or drink or life’s indulgence. And we all go back to how it is before technology arrived.
Whatever your reason for changing the way you eat or drink, whether for Lent or Ramadan, or just to detox, I salute you. For it takes a big amount of self-control to do this. And if we have self-control, we can better manage our crazy lives.
I also respect those who have completely turned around and believe what they believe and have decided to be Atheists. They must be better at their self-mastery? Or too proud to be guided on what to do in life.
In our periodic news forum called Good News Kapihan, our mantra is: No politics and no religion. I hope I have not broken our promise by dipping my hands into a sensitive matter, which might be taken as discussing religion. I just feel so strongly that people need a guide, no matter who or what.
For those who have started a diet, have started fasting or abstaining, or those who devoutly just practice the faith, you have started a process in self-control. I salute you.
What can you abstain from and stick to it?
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Chit Juan is the Founder and President of ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestyle located in Serendra , Podium and Centrismalls.She is the President of Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. She often speaks to corporates, academe and entrepreneurs about her advocacies: Social Enterprise, Women Empowerment and Coffee. You can reach her at email@example.com or find her on Twitter:Chitjuan , Instagram: CHITJUAN or Linked In: Pacita Juan.