Lent: A Great Time to Ditch Eggs or Meat
Before my father got his doctorate from Columbia University, he was in the seminary and was going to be a Roman Catholic priest. He was definitely onto something with his original impulse and probably should’ve kept it going. But that’s another story.
When you’re raised by an uber-Catholic, you learn the rituals, the prayers, the saints, and the holidays (what’s the most misunderstood Holy Day for Catholics? The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, on December 8, which celebrates the conception of Mary–not Jesus–as Mary was the only person born without original sin. Or so the story goes.). You learn about why Catholics do what they do.
Lent is the 40+ days (Sundays aren’t counted in Western Catholicism) leading up to Holy Week and Easter. (It began yesterday, with Ash Wednesday.) It commemorates when Jesus went into the desert (a place of deprivation) and was tested by demons tempting him with, shall we say, the wrong ways to be the Messiah. He rejected them all, and by the way one of them was world domination.
During Lent, Catholics abstain from something. For some reason, smoking and chocolate are often at the top of the list, as if Lent were a second chance to work on that New Year’s resolution. There are various ways Catholics fast or give up meat (Carnival–farewell to meat–get it?) during Lent. Some fast completely on Fridays. Some just don’t eat between meals. Some make Fridays Pizza Day, or Fish Day, and abstain from meat. The concept certainly has been diluted over the years, even during my lifetime (we fasted on Fridays when I was young, and by the time I was in high school, Friday was Pizza Day).
The abstinence is supposed to be for God, but the flip side of that is it becomes liberating for us, as we realize what truly matters and how much we allow our lives to be filled with illusions and delusions. Abstinence helps us find material and spiritual freedom.
What does all this have to do with eggs?
If you’re a vegetarian you probably still eat eggs. Lent is a great time to give them up if you’re Catholic (and even if you once were or you’re not or you never were) because there’s a ready-made context that makes sense regardless of the verity of the story or the existence of God. When you fast or abstain, your contemplation increases, particularly with regard to the thing you’re abstaining from. You don’t have to be Catholic or believe in God for that to be true.
While you’re abstaining from meat or eggs, remind yourself of the reasons for abstaining (e.g., animals are not ours to use, the cruelty involved). By the time Easter rolls around, you might experience the liberation from the need to eat animals, and if you don’t you might experience a shift in your willingness to give them up. Abstinence and contemplation might be exactly what you need to kickstart giving up meat or eggs forever. Give it a try.