Bang! It's ash Wednesday!
Wasn't it just Christmas?
For those of you who may not know, the Latin name for Lent, Quadragesima, means 40 and refers to the 40 days our Lord spent in the desert, which of course, is the origin of the season. The last two weeks of Lent are known as "Passiontide", which is made up of Passion Week and Holy Week. The last three days of Holy week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday make up the Sacred Triduum.
The focus during Lent is the Cross and penance, penance, and more penance as we seek to imitate our Lord with forty day of fasting. Finish up the Paszki's and King Cakes today, tomorrow it is all over!
Your whole way of thinking during this Season should be changed. It should be one of reparation for your sins. As much as you are able, your focus should be on how you can serve God in a reparative way.
One of the ways to make reparation is to fast and abstain. The Church lays down guidelines for fasting. According to the 1983 Code of Canon Law the rule for the Universal Church is to abstain from meat on Fridays, and to add a fast to Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
You might want to adhere to the older form of Lenten mortification:
Ash Wednesday, all Fridays and Saturdays: Fasting and total abstinence. Three meatless meals, with the smaller meals not equaling the large one. And no snacking(!)
Mondays, Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays: Fasting and partial abstinence. Three meals where meat may be eaten at the main meal, with the two smaller meals not equaling the large one. And no snacking.
Of course, there are other great Catholic traditions which have been lost to the majority, one of which is this great recipe for fish stew. The Traddy household will be awash in this Ash Wednesday eve.
Fish Stew (serves 8)
6 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chopped yellow onions (about 2 medium)
2 cups chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
2 cups chopped fresh fennel
10 small tomatoes, diced (about 1 pound)
2 TBSP tomato paste
4 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup cold water
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
2 TBSP sugar or to taste
2 TBSP fennel seeds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 pounds fish, (e.g.cod, sea bass, halibut and red snapper fillets) cut into 1-inch pieces
In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, heat the oil and saute the garlic and onion for about 3 minutes or until soft but not brown. Add the celery and fennel, and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, wine, water, parsley, sugar, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Let simmer for about 15 minutes.
Add the fish, cover the pot and cook for about 5 minutes, or until fish is cooked through but still firm. Serve immediately in heated, shallow soup bowls.
See? You come here expecting pure religion, and you get a recipe to boot!
I will be updating the blog during Lent with some readings of our Church Fathers, so be sure to tune in for that as well as my regular posts.
Have a blessed Lenten Season!