This week I have been working on putting together some of the details for our parish-wide Progressive Dinner.  As I work on planning for this, I reflect back on our Christmas book, The Catholic Table

There are times when the church encourages us to fast – like Lent.  During Lent we are encouraged to give up something. This Lent I am learning a lot about how much food I really need to get through a day – it’s a lot less than I would have thought.  I don’t need to snack during the day – although it’s great and I love it and once Lent is over I am pretty sure I will again have a bowl of healthy snacks on my desk to get me through the days, as well as put my popcorn popper back to use at home.  Realistically though, I realize that I don’t need to eat all the time, and I’ll hesitate a little more before reaching for a snack, at least initially.  When I do reach for a snack I’ve learned to stop and think about what is causing that stirring in me; seldom is it truly physical hunger.  The times when it is hardest is when I am giving up not just food, but that quality time with others.  So as I’m fasting this Lent I have chosen to fast two types of fasting, first I’m fasting between meals – which I am pretty much doing daily, but second I am also choosing, on days when I can, to give up one meal.  I’ve learned though that I do a lot of eating with others and the meals that I spend with others are not about the food, but about the relationship.  I’m living with my sister and her family right now.  It is harder to give up a meal at the house when the kids question why I am not eating with them – they don’t understand the spirituality of fasting so for them it is confusing if I’m not eating with them.  Eating family meals together is a great way to gather, talk about life and share your stories.  To not eat with the family because I’m fasting is actual more of a detriment to relationship with others.  So, I’ve adjusted my fasting plans some.  From the reading of our book I also have taken to hear the idea of not fasting when you are with others so I jokingly tell people I’m setting up dinner dates with friends every chance I can just so I have an excuse to eat.  But truly, it’s what people do when they get together – not often does someone invite you over to just hang out, and if they do, snacks or drinks are in the plan.  Eating with others, breaking bread and sharing stories – it’s what you do when friends and family gather.  It’s what we do when we gather around the altar.  Fasting this lent has been a journey that has challenged me not only question why I eat, but also to look beyond the food on my plate. It has reminded me of the joy of gathering with others around a table and the relationships that grow from those simple encounters over a bowl of popcorn, a simple plate of spaghetti or grilled salmon.  The food isn’t the focus, the company, the sharing, the stories, the love, that is what matters!

In The Catholic Table she reminds us that times of fasting are meant to lead us to, and prepare us for, times of great feasting!  So after reading this book I am excited to have spent Lent focused on fasting so that we can joyfully enter into the Easter season and great feasting!  April 15th we are hosting a parish-wide Progressive Dinner.  We are looking for people who are willing to open their homes to other parishioners either for appetizers or for dinner.  We have started asking folks to host, but are waiting to hear from you too!  Not everyone can host and that’s great – because what a is a host without guests?  This weekend Fr Steve is going to tell us a little more about this event and I, or someone from staff, will be at a table in the gathering space to talk with you, answer your questions and get you signed up!