Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lent ~ Cuaremsa

Heidi is hosting Wednesday Gratitude at Heart and Home. It is a wonderful way to gather in friendship, support, and a moment of gratitude. This week I have so much gratitude for the opportunity to spiritually grow in faith and prayer during the Lent Season.
I want to share with you about my childhood experience during the Christian period of Lent. The Spanish word for Lent is Cuaremsa which means “40”, the number of days that Jesus fasted in the wilderness.

Lent Disciplines
When I was a kid, Lent always seemed so busy with so many things to do. I learned at a young age about the Lent disciplines such as fasting, almsgiving, prayers, examinations of conscious, and penance. For a young kid, fasting was the most dreaded part. I hated giving up candy. I loved candy so much that I would pretend to be a princess in candy land. Oh, and the extra prayers; gees I was Catholic, how many more prayers do I need to learn? To make this more interesting, my parents made me learn my prayers in English & Spanish because they did not me to lose my heritage language. We would start Lent by attending Ash Wednesday mass in the morning, where we received ashes on our foreheads to symbolize repentance and remind us of our mortality. It was easy to spot the Catholics that day. Then the scariest part for me was “scrutiny and penance”. I always wondered if the priest would remember me and my sins. My siblings and I would compare the number of prayers we were assigned after confession. Almsgiving meant that we had to do more chores around the house. I was always fastest at completing my chores because I would toss my stuff under my bed. Then we would celebrate Palm Sunday by receiving palms in memory of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

Lent ~ Traditional Hispanic Foods
I wish I could say that I enjoyed the Hispanic traditional food for Lent, but I didn’t. It is very common for people to eat seafood on Fridays, since fasting from meats was required. Well, I am allergic to shell-fish, so that was not fun at all. Other traditional foods were fritters or “empanada” stuffed with vegetable or seafood. There was also a dessert that everyone raved about called “capirotada” which is a bread pudding. Sorry, but I was not about to eat what I called soggy bread; a mixture of bread, stale tortillas, prunes, pecans, bananas, apricots, dried pineapple, cheese, brown sugar syrup, cinnamon, and butter. People would also eat fried cactus paddles with egg, and fried fish patties coated with eggs; yuck. By the end of the 40 days, I was a skinny kid, desperate for candy, and fluent in more languages than I when I started.

The Best Part of Lent
When I was young, my favorite part of Lent was the end. By the end of the 40 day, my mother would have made us a beautiful new Easter dress and bought us an Easter basket. In celebration of our Hispanic culture, we would have saved, painted, and stuff, confetti eggs or “cascarones”. Easter Sunday was a blast because I would finally get to eat the candy in my basket and we would have a huge BBQ and egg hunts.

Lent ~ Today
I laugh and I cry when I remember those wonderful times. I miss my father who is now in heaven. I miss my mom now that I have moved to a new city. Lent starts today and I have already started to think of ways to make it interesting for my kids. As an adult, I know the meaning of Lent and Easter. I pray for God to expand my knowledge and strengthen my faith. I feel bad for Jesus having suffered 40 days and them dying on the cross, but I am grateful for his sacrifice and resurrection.
My sweet friend Floss is hosting A Pause in Lent at Troc, Broc and Recup. Go on over sometime and share in her wisdom.
God Bless You ~ Yoli :)


  1. Yoli, I became a Catholic after my marriage, so I have no memories of childhood. I enjoyed reading yours. I am now married to a Lutheran and we tried the Methodist Church as a compromise and if failed for both of us...I now long to return to the Catholic church and will do so. Thanks for sharing your story.


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  3. This is my first time to observe Lent. I recently converted to Lutheranism. Thanks for the wonderful insight of how the Hispanic culture observes Lent

  4. We change so much over the course of our lifetime. I liked reading how you felt as a child versus how you feel now. Happy Lent! ;-)

  5. Thank you for sharing your memories.

    I am learning lots about Hispanic food and culture now that I am here in Texas. My daughter is learning Spanish. It is very different here for me. But I like it.

    Have a blessed day.

  6. Hi Yoli! Thanks for stopping by my blog! Sorry it's taken me so long to get over here! I love your post about Lent. I am trying to start some new Lenten traditions with my kids. I made some Easter eggs that you can check out on my blog.

    We ate a lot of breakfast for dinner growing up during Lent. We will be off to mass at noon for our ashes!

    Have a good day!

  7. Great reflection, Yoli.

    My heart aches during Lent for the sacrifices He has made that so many do not partake of, for those that are lost to him though he loves them so much.

    I just know you'll come up with really cool ways to train up your children and the Lord will inspire you with great ideas. Mine have been reflecting all week what they will give up during Lent. Your candy reminds me of my Jake, 12 yrs old who loves gum and will give it up for Lent. lol

    we are not Catholic but celebrate Lent season.

    Blessings, during this holy time.

  8. I love hearing about your memories during the Lent season.

    I remember first seeing the confetti eggs you speak of as a young child. We had gone camping over the Easter weekend and there was a big family celebrating Easter in the park area with the confetti eggs. It was so much fun playing with those kids (new friends) and watching them break the eggs (if I remember right) over each others' heads.

  9. Yoli, your memories of Lent as a child are wonderful. You were so honest about your childlike attempts to observe the rituals involved! I think the food looks delicious, but I'm also allergic to shell fish, so guess I would have been a skinny kid, too!
    I am so glad you shared this with us for Wednesday Gratitude, thanks for the support and the visit.
    Have a great week,
    Heidi - Heart and Home

  10. My family did not observe Lent when I was a child - they still don't.
    I started observing Lent a couple of years ago. I loved reading about your childhood and what it was like for you. Thank you.

  11. Thank you for sharing your memories of Lent.

    I grew up Catholic, but we didn't practice that. But, now as a born again believer, I'm so thankful for the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross.

  12. I enjoyed your telling of your culture. Very rich, indeed! May all of us increase in faith and love during this season.

  13. Yoli, thank you for the nice comment you left on this Texas gals blog. Even though I'm far away, I so enjoy communicating with my sisters from Texas. I used to live in San Antonio. My sister now lives in New Braunfels and we visit there often. Thanks for the wave from the home state. I enjoy your blog and will visit again.

  14. Yoli~ I really enjoyed reading about your memories. I grew up Catholic and remember how hard giving up candy was and the large amount of McDonald's fish fillets we ate on Fridays. Our church now does not celebrate Lent. However this year I want to use this time as intended and really draw closer to God. Thanks for the inspiration. ~Stacey

  15. Hi Yoli, it's interesting how the sacrifices we didn't understand as children become so meaningful as adults if we use them to turn our hearts to God. I can't quite tell by your post, are you still Catholic? I am. And my experience seems to have been very similar to yours without the Hispanic food. I love nopalitos though. I'm going to try to learn to make them.

  16. This is amazing.. Thank for taking the time to share this..

    Have something for you on my blog..