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Lenten faster: Prayer, diet, computer time

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
April 4, 2014 at midnight
Updated April 3, 2014 at 11:04 p.m.

Annie Coffey explains to her son, Joseph, 5, the meaning of the symbols and sculptures on a stained-glass window at Our Lady of Victoria Catholic Church. Even though she home schools, Coffey felt that she wasn't spending enough time with her four children. She has given up Facebook for Lent and is trying to pray a  rosary with her family every night. "I will focus more on God and on my vocation as a mother and a wife," Coffey said of her decision to make life changes for Lent.

In two weeks, Easter Sunday will conclude the 40-day Lenten fast.

Catholics and some main-line Protestants who observe the holy season will be released from the behavioral, prayer and dietary restrictions they put upon themselves.

And they'll be free to once again indulge in the joyous celebration of the resurrection.

For the past several weeks, the Advocate has followed Crossroads Lenten fasters' journeys of self-sacrifice.

Here's the story of Annie Coffey, the last of the season's fasters.• Name: Annie Coffey

• Age: 38

• Occupation: Home-school teacher

• Church: Our Lady of Victory

• Fast: Giving up two days of eating a week, Facebook

Have you always given up something for Lent?

Always. I think I started to take it more seriously in high school. When you're young, you just give up candy or something simple for Lent. But as you get older, you realize there's a lot more to it than giving up candy. There's a lot more you can do to build your faith.

What did you decide to give up this year?

I decided to give up Facebook, except for one page I use to talk about Lent with a group of others who are fasting. I also gave up video games. Giving up sweets for me is not something I do because I'm always on a diet and watching what I'm eating. I wanted it to be a little more spiritual this year. Some years, I've added a daily rosary or spent more time in prayer each day. And in college, I went to daily Mass during Lent, which is something I've continued. I don't make it every day to Mass, but I probably go three to four times a week.

Tell me about the Facebook group.

I started a group called Cleaning our Temple based on Scripture that talks about our bodies as temples. So the group is about nutritional cleansing, and every day, we put out prayer requests for each other and decide who we're going to pray for each day of Lent.

Have you been good about staying off Facebook?

I haven't done as perfectly as I should, but I'm way, way better than I was. The hardest part of my Lent has definitely been staying off Facebook. And two days a week, I give up eating. I drink a lot of water. And I'm not tired. I find that those two days I have a lot of energy.

How have you spiritually matured during Lent?

I'm noticing that even though I home-school my children, I wasn't really present for them. I was spending too much time on the computer, and I have realized that I need to be the best mother I can while I still have them. God doesn't want me spending all my time on the computer. I was probably spending about three hours a day here and there. It's funny because people have been texting me asking if I'm OK because they haven't seen me on Facebook as much. That's a sign I was definitely spending too much time on there.

Are doing any Lent activities as a family?

Every night, my husband and I pray the rosary with the kids. Our oldest is 9, and our youngest is 5, and we sit on the couch and say the rosary. Sometimes, they're too tired, and I think, "This is a great way to put the kids to sleep."

What's you plan after Lent?

I want to continue saying the rosary every night with the children, and I will keep the two days of nutritional cleansing. And I want to reduce my time on the computer so I can spend more time with my children. I'll limit myself to 15 minutes per day on Facebook.

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