Fat Tuesday, the Apocrypha, and Me

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A friend messaged me this morning to wish me a happy Fat Tuesday, and we started talking about the implications of the day. I happened to be on the elliptical machine at the gym when I received the message, with the aftertaste of dark chocolate in my mouth from the bar I had already enjoyed this morning for breakfast.  

I popped my headphones in to listen to the lectionary reading for today while I ellipsed (new word for the action of doing the elliptical machine; you're welcome). The Old Testament reading is from the Wisdom of Sirach (also called Ecclesiasticus), a book of wisdom literature similar to Proverbs. As a convert from Protestantism to Catholicism, sometimes I still get nervous when the readings are from the books that were not in my Protestant Bible. But today, I was encouraged in the reading--

 

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"To keep the law is a great oblation..."

This verse turned my thoughts to tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the penitential season of Lent. Recovering from childbirth and adjusting to life as a stay-at-home mom to four kids under five has occupied my thoughts almost entirely , and I haven't really given Lent a thought until now. What am I going to give up?  

Vocabulary lesson for the day: oblation. I first heard this word when Zachary and I were asked to be oblates in the church we were married in. It's a weird word, but in that context it meant that we were assigned to bring the bread and wine up to the altar for the priest to consecrate. 

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So, what will my Lenten oblation be? As a Catholic, I have the option to give up something or add a devotional practice in my observation of Lent. But it's not easy to decide what to do...because fasting scares me. 

I write about being fat and my journey to finding my belovedness a lot, and that's because it is something that I think about almost every day. Fasting and I have a rough history, and I am still unpacking the baggage from years of misplaced fasting motivation. 

So, understandably, Lent can be scary. But when I think about bringing the Lord an oblation, rather than just denying myself something, it makes it easier. Instead of bringing the bread and wine to the altar, I am bringing myself. With joy.  

It's Fat Tuesday, but every day is a fat day for me. I live and move and have my being in this body and in Christ Jesus. I want to flourish in this season. So whether I give up something or take on an extra practice in the season that begins tomorrow, I bring my whole self as an oblation--with joy, with intentionality, and with a little bit of trepidation--as I ask for God to make me ready for Holy Week, that I can see the cross and resurrection in a new light.