Fasting is getting a bad rap. Try it! I did!
"What are you going to do for Lent?" My neighbor's question stopped me dead in my tracks.
Not that I didn't have an answer. I mean, I'm going to do the usual...give up sweets, give up coffee, go to confession, listen to Dynamic Catholic's daily podcast Best Lent Ever, donate to the food pantry, give to neighbors in need. I just hadn't thought about it.
She went on. "I think we should be doing something instead of fasting."
I bristled. Instead of fasting? She's not the first to make that comment, and it always makes me cringe.
Did she know how difficult fasting is? Did she know that fasting isn't the 'end-all' of Lent?
Did she know Catholics are, indeed, called to 'do something' for Lent? Something in addition to fasting?
Lent includes prayer, fasting and almsgiving (doing something for others).
In our selfie-centered society, it seems, fasting is getting a bad rap. Maybe because fasting hits us at a very basic, very human level. Self-denial isn't hip.
And, it's hard to do. It's easier for me to donate, volunteer, or visit the sick...but give up chocolate? Forego my morning coffee? Go hungry for a day?
Now that's tough...really tough. Why would I do that?
Here's why: Man does not live by bread alone (Matthew 4:4). Fasting is supposed to remind us of our dependence on the Lord.
Faith is a practice. I like the way we sharpen the pencil during Lent. If you need some ideas, watch Fr. Robert Barron's (Word on Fire) video.
We do these things throughout the year, but we underscore them during Lent. So...have the conversation. Challenge the practices of faith. Just remember the 3 tenets of the season.
And do something that draws you closer to God himself.
I think I'll keep my customs...no coffee...no sweets...listen to Dynamic Catholic's Best Lent Ever...and be intentional in what I can do to give of myself. I'll.seek daily opportunities to serve others, including, and especially, those in my own home. And I'll pray...Lord, have mercy...I'll pray...
So...what are you going to do for Lent?
Click here for the song Lord Have Mercy on Me. What a beautiful Lenten prayer.