Observing Lent

Each year, for the 40 days before Easter, I observe Lent.  Lent is a time of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving in preparation for The Greatest Celebration.  This year, among a few other things, I’ve decided to go gluten-free for Lent.

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Why observe Lent?

Am I not always aware of the ultimate sacrifice?  (I am!)  If I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me (I do!) and that I am saved because of his grace (I am!) then why Lent?  Why the dredging up the past?  Why the remembering?  What’s the point? Doesn’t God want me to rejoice in his gift every day of the year?  Does God even care about Lent?

Lent isn’t for God, it’s for me. He doesn’t need it, I do. Church or no church, rules or no rules; if I don’t observe Lent, if I don’t take the time to remember the suffering and the sacrifice in a meaningful, physical way, then I’m not prepared to celebrate the Resurrection with full joy .

I know God doesn’t want my chocolate. He wants me. Although it could (and should) be done throughout the year, the 40 days before Easter are a meaningful time for me to slow down and reevaluate.  He gave everything. Everything I have is his.  How am I using those gifts?  What am I giving in return?  What is my thanks to the One who died for me?

Why Gluten-Free?

No, God doesn’t want my gluten, either.  Going gluten-free is something I’ve pondered off and on for a couple of years for health reasons.  Our children have some skin issues and I have some digestive issues.  None of it requires medication, it’s just uncomfortable and I’d like to see if a change in diet will give us positive results.

We’re taking the plunge during lent for several reasons.

  • I’m a glutton.  I enjoy food, probably too much.  Even though we will still eat very well without gluten, going without will remind me how fortunate we are to enjoy a wide variety of our favorite foods at nearly any time.  We are blessed!
  • It’s a finite time frame.  I know there will be difficult days in this journey, and knowing that it’s “only” 40 days will help me mentally pull through.  Also, if gluten truly is causing some physical issues for us, 40 days should give plenty of time to see results so we can make some plans.
  • When the going gets tough, the tough get praying!  There will be cravings and frustration.  I plan to offer up those difficulties.  Jesus died for me!  Surely I can go without waffles and pancakes for a few weeks.
  • Lent is a time of almsgiving.  A time to remember those less fortunate.  While going gluten-free would be easier if I’d purchase a few specialty foods, my plan is to avoid that.  I want to enter this challenge with a frugal mind-set, planning to spend no more on food than we usually do, and maybe even less.  We like to give more during lent, and would like our gift to come from money we might normally spend on food.
  • Gluten is in a lot of fun foods.  Snack foods. Dessert foods.  By giving up gluten we will also be giving up a lot of the sugar in our diet, which certainly won’t hurt our health issues!  Plus, it simply doesn’t sit well with me to be noshing on brownies and cookies while remembering Jesus’ betrayal in the garden of Gethsemane.

If you observe Lent, what is your plan for the next 40 days?  How do you prepare for Easter?


  1. Thank you for reminding me! So far my husband and I have discussed how we might use Lent to make time to pray and discern together about our next step as a family since our current situation is ending in May.
    Last year, we only ate meat on Sundays in Lent. It was a great experience! Good luck with your gluten free Lent!

  2. I like your idea of giving up gluten as a family and focusing on eating naturally gluten free.

    I observe Lent and I often struggle with what to give up.A lot of things that people traditional give up never seemed to fit me and didn’t seem to bring me closer to God. In college, one of my priest friends and I were talking about this very subject and he suggested that I should “add” something instead on focusing on giving something up. For example, instead of giving up “tv” make a resolution to read your bible daily. So I pick one or two things to add to my daily routine like going to daily mass, praying the rosary,chaplet of divine mercy or stations of the cross.

    • I love this idea! Thanks for sharing.

    • Yes! One of our priests always said “if you’re going to give something up, give up SIN” and then encouraged adding other positive behaviors and habits.

      • Giving up sin is important. I hope I didn’t sound like I was sinless and didn’t have anything to give up! I certainly do. During college, I lived on 10$ a week so the idea of doing without meat, treats, going out to eat wasn’t a true sacrifice for me as I already did those things on a daily basis. Since i started adding something during Lent, I feel that it’s helped me focus on being a better Christian. I become more aware of the areas I sin most as well as refocus on whats truly important!

        • Oh goodness, no! I was just sharing THE sermon/homily that had the most impact ever on me. 🙂 Sometimes giving up “things” isn’t nearly the sacrifice… know what I mean?

    • Great idea! I find that giving up something is helpful if you have a purpose. For instance, this year, I am giving up TV in order to make time for more prayer and spiritual reading. Otherwise, I am adding one more thing to my day and it can become overwhelming.

  3. We DO observe Lent and I appreciate how beautifully you explained it above. This year, I’m challenging myself in ways to work on always, always loving more and judging less. (I’m challenging others, too, but only if they want to. :)) I must confess that the thought of going gluten free would be overwhelming to me… BUT, since you can still have eggs with cheese, it should be okay. 😉

    • “Loving more and judging less.” I need to add that to my list. 🙂 One of my favorite priests encouraged us to change a behavior during Lent, striving for permanency. That would be a good one!

      Oh, and bring on the eggs and cheese! (Pizza quesadillas, anyone?!)

  4. This year for Lent, I am making a conscious effort to remember how very blessed we are, and to pray more, have in my thoughts more, and to give more to help those out that are less fortunate. I am going to really strive to shop and prepare much more frugally, and with much less meat and other items that could be considered luxuries so that we can give more to Operation Rice Bowl, and to our parish for the food closet that we have to help others.

  5. I’m doing 40 bags in 40 days again, and intending to pray a daily rosary, hopfully Goose will join in using these rosary roses I made for her. And? I’m giving up white sugar. Zoiks. But it’s something I *have* to do – I’m getting far too unhealthy, and I can’t do it alone. I made a set of sacrifice beads and turned them into a bracelet to wear and hopefully that’ll help me focus on Jesus and His sacrifice. I had a last hurrah with a carton of ice cream already – and I’m hoping that’ll be something that is only a very rare treat after Easter.

    • Ha — I just ate the last of the caramel pecan cinnamon rolls I made yesterday. Gluten + sugar = interesting Lent, I’m sure! I should do the 40 bags in 40 days. Need to ramp up our decluttering efforts around here.

  6. Beautiful post on lent, Amy! You mentioned God not needing us to do things or give things up, that it’s for you, not for him. Very well said!
    Good luck with your gluten free Lent! I am giving up sugar (a nasty beast!) and my night owl behavior. 🙁

  7. We are doing a sugar detox for Lent and my husband and I are doing a Bible study together (study and reflection on each of the Bible readings before the next service).

    I’m also going to start keeping a gratitude journal again. Somehow, just writing down five things I’m thankful for every night before bed makes a huge difference in my attitude!

  8. …what everybody else said! A beautiful posting! I usually challenge myself and it IS a great reminder of a greater sacrifice. Usually it’s something food/drink related and this year is no different for me. As a pepsiaholic, it would have been really difficult except….I challenged my kids to give up fighting/bickering with each other and to try to treat the other with more respect and kindness. At ages 14 and 11, this is TOUGH! They are doing it though (ummmm…I got my dates messed up and we started early….) and I can see how difficult it can be to swallow that comeback that would be so perfect and I marvel at the effort they are making….giving up the pepsi is nothing this year for me, but watching my two is the ultimate reminder to “do unto others”.

  9. Nice thing about going glutton free right now is there are so many alternatives that can be bought right in the grocery store. You can even get coupons. You don’t need to give up pancakes or waffles. You don’t even need to give up cake or cookies, but you do need to prepare a bit. Here is Bob’s site and they sell baking mixes for a lot of things that are gluten free. Have fun exploring! God always leads us down a path for a reason. http://www.bobsredmill.com/gluten-free/

  10. I tried last year to do something nice for someone every day of lent – that was so hard – I wouldn’t have thought it was as hard as it was! – It really made me think outside of my circle and try to do a meaningful gesture for people that might not have anyone in their life – with thought word and deed –

    • If you think about it, that’s 40 people. Forty acts of kindness. Sounds hard to me, too. But what a great challenge, and a great way to reach out to people you may otherwise not.

  11. kathleen says:

    Well said! I’m giving up soda. I drink way to much this is a sacrifice for me and help me to remember the ultimate sacrifice.

  12. Gulp…I’ve decided to give up makeup. I don’t wear a lot, but I do wear some, especially since I teach at a university. During the next 40 days, I’m going to allow myself and others to see me as exactly how God created me.

    • THAT is impressive. I don’t wear it every day, but that would definitely be a sacrifice when we’re out and about. Good for you!

  13. Our church also encourages us to take something on for Lent, instead of, or in addition to, giving something up. I’m giving up TV between the hours of 3 and 5. This is the time when my children (3 and 1) sometimes both take a nap. I’ve started to see this time as my justified “zone out” time. I still want to rest during this time (if the kiddos let me), but I want to find other ways to do it. So, if the munchkins allow, I’ll spend the time reading for Bible Study or pleasure, praying, crafting, baking, or actually napping…glory be! If nothing else, I pray I leave the Lenten season with an adjusted attitude about “me time.”

    • That’s a great idea! And yes, if we take on something time-wise, something’s gotta go. I could stand to do something more productive with my tv time, too!


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