Last update 04/05/2013

40 days & 40 nights without alcohol

I went to Catholic school for 11 years of my life, from first grade to last year of high school. In Peru, you don’t switch schools like you do here in the US. There’s no such a thing as elementary, middle and high school; you go to the same school for Primaria (1-6 grade) and Secundaria (1-5 grades). Staying in the same school for all those years is great, even when it’s an all-girls catholic school. Even when having tons of daily drama dosage, was still awesome.

Going to a catholic school for so many years has its perks; the fact that I did my first communion and confirmation there with all my friends was definitely very special. It definitely created a bond that will never be broken. The not so special part was to go to church every first Friday of the month (a very long and draining mass) and narrate the liturgy from each Sunday every Monday morning during Religion class.,

During my years of school I felt that most of the times (if not every day) the catholic practices were imposed. Except during certain events like retreats, where I actually felt a lot closer to my catholic beliefs.

Once I was out of school, I didn’t practice Catholicism, I went for the believer-non practicing route. I did believe in God, Jesus and Mary but didn’t go to church (at all). My mom has always being a firm believer and Catholic practitioner  She would make me go to church during Easter and Christmas. However, at some point of my life, I honestly was very hesitant about practicing Catholicism (the you must go to church every week was a no-no). For me praying every night was enough. I mean the faith and belief were there but never felt the actual need to get closer to God. Not to mention that I didn’t agree with the way the church operates but that’s another subject.

Everything changed when I moved to New York. The fact that I was away from my loved ones gave me a reason to get closer to my beliefs. The humane need of believing in something greater than you can be a very comforting feeling. I never gave up anything for lent for the past 23 years of my life, until last year. I decided to give up meat during lent (for 40 days). I had the conviction to do so because my faith and connection with my beliefs were stronger.

This year I did it again and it ended a week ago. Giving up meat wasn’t that hard since I love fish and mushrooms and I’m happy to them from Monday to Friday. Not eating steak or chicken was not a big issue. However, this year while I was in Peru my mother asked me “what if you give up alcohol for lent?”. I mean, I’m 25 years old and very socially active, that was like “UHM I DON’T THINK SO”. But then I analyze my year and all the things I had to feel thankful for and said “why not”.

So for 40 days as preparation for Easter, I gave up alcohol, bread and rice. I’m lucky to be supported by my boyfriend, who was willing to do it with me. We went hard at eat, I mean rice and bread? Isn’t bread our favorite part of a meal for most Latinos? I’m not going to deny it, probably the hardest part was not consuming alcohol, especially on the weekends or on rough work days. To my surprise, we ended up doing it the right way, without cheating, not even once!

On the Monday before Easter we both went to confess. Personally, I haven’t had done this for I don’t even remember how many years. Let me tell you, it felt good to take out all the negativity and start all over. That week, during Easter, I participated in the communion and it was very special.

I wanted to share this experience with you, not because I just turned into a religious fanatic or because I want you to become Catholic. The only reason why I’m sharing this personal post with you, it’s because New York has changed my life in so many ways; being this one, one of them. This city has put in my path people and made face circumstances that today, after almost 5 years, have influenced my re-connection with my, once imposed, faith and beliefs.

I invite you to reconnect with something thing that heals you from within and that gives you the peace you may need (it doesn’t necessarily have to be related to religion). Personally, I  think that believing and having faith in a greater power, can be very healing and helpful. I participated in lent, as a physical and mental cleanse, and I’m very glad and proud of myself I did. Today I feel more compromised with myself and my beliefs than yesterday. I’m happy to say that today I feel blessed and I hope you feel too!

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The Author
Vanessa Ponce

Join me as I take you through my NYC life experiences as a Peruana immigrant, while exploring what the big apple has to offer for locals and visitors. Learn about my world travels, stories of people doing great things, community support initiatives, and more!

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