Tag Archives: fasting

What am I going to do for Lent?

table

Lent begins  Ash Wednesday. What am I going to do for Lent? The supper table is a good place to ask that question, because Lent is about renewing ourselves as we are here and now. The supper table is a sign of life here and now.

Those closest to us there. Doing something for Lent must mean doing something for them, first of all, the people across the table–or maybe those who have left our table because we have driven them away. A scripture reading early on in Lent says: “Don’t turn your back on your own.”  Have we turned our backs on those closest to us because we know them too well or we have hurt them in any way?

Besides the supper table, I guess we should also ask that question “What am I going to do for Lent?” in the place where I work, or where I go to school. Don’t turn your back on them either.

Lent is for renewing ourselves as we are, in real life and real time. We don’t have to leave this world or go to Mars to do that

The Ash Wednesday scriptures say: pray, fast and give alms. What am I going to do for Lent? How about praying each day? How about fasting from my own hard opinions of others? How about looking after someone else instead of myself, someone in need?

What am I going to do for Lent? I hope I can get closer to God, and that means for me to get closer to Jesus Christ. Where should I begin? How about reading the scriptures, especially the scriptures we read during Lent.

Let’s not forget something else, though.  “What’s God going to do for us during Lent?” That’s even more important. Lent is a time of God’s grace, which is more than we can hope for, beyond what we deserve. The great sign of God’s limitless love is the Passion of his Son, a wondrous love beyond all others.

What am I going to do for Lent?

Someone was asking that question at our supper table the other night. Lent begins  Ash Wednesday. The supper table is a good place to ask the question, because Lent is about renewing ourselves as we are and where we live. The supper table stands for life here and now.

The supper table is the place where we face those closest to us. Doing something for Lent has to mean doing something for them, first of all, the people across the table–or maybe those who have left our table. One of our scripture readings early on in Lent says: “Don’t turn your back on your own.”   Renewing our relationship with those closest  to us is one of the most important steps to renewing ourselves.

Besides the supper table, I guess we should also ask that question “What am I going to do for Lent?” in the place where I work, or where I go to school. Don’t turn your back on them either.

Lent is for renewing ourselves as we are, in real life and real time. It isn’t about changing us into different people or changing the world we live in or leaving for Mars.

The scriptures read on Ash Wednesday tell us to pray, to fast and give alms. What am I going to do for Lent? How about praying everyday? How about fasting from my own hard opinions of others? How about thinking about others and not just myself?

What am I going to do for Lent? I hope I can get closer to God, and that means for me to get closer to Jesus Christ. He says in this Sunday’s gospel that it’s possible to think we know him, but don’t know him. Where should I begin? Let me look in the scriptures, especially the scriptures we read during Lent.

Pope Benedict’s “Jesus of Nazareth” part 2 where he looks long and hard at the story of the Passion of Jesus is due out this week. I’m going to read it. Maybe that will help.

One thing we shouldn’t forget when we ask that question “What am I going to do for Lent?” is  another question: “What is God going to do for us during Lent?” It’s a time of God’s grace, more than we can hope for, beyond what we could possibly earn. The great sign of God’s limitless giving is the Passion of his Son, a wondrous gift.

 

How fast today?

“The disciples of John approached Jesus and said,

“Why do we and the Pharisees fast much,

but your disciples do not fast?”

Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn

as long as the bridegroom is with them?

The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,

and then they will fast.”

For a brief moment in time, Jesus Christ, the Word of God, appeared in the flesh. Then, he rose from the dead and his appearances in the flesh ended.

Now his disciples have to fast, according to today’s lenten reading from Matthew 9, 14-15. What kind of fasting should they do? Certainly a little fasting from food, drink, entertainment would help, for sure.

But how about turning  from that “expressive individualism” that Charles Taylor calls the trademark of our western world. A more subtle kind of fasting.

There’s a commercial on television calling us to go to the Florida Keys, where  you’re free to express yourself and do what you like, where freedom reaches its highest expression. Sounds like that “far off country” that beckoned the Prodigal Son.

Does our fasting means fasting from  too much attention to ourselves, which leads us to turn our backs on our own? Do we need to pay more attention to helping the poor, where Christ can always be found?

Prayer, Fasting and Mercy

The sermon on prayer, fasting and mercy in today’s reading by St. Peter Chrysologus, the 5th century bishop of Ravenna, is a reminder not to forget what this season is about.

Prayer, fasting and mercy are joined together; they are one, the saint says. “They give life to each other…Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives…Don’t separate them; they can’t be separated. If you have only one and not all of them together you have nothing.”

Prayer knocks at the door of an ever-present God, whom we so easily forget. We must keep the God who made us and saves us before our eyes and let God inform how we live and act.

Fasting reminds us our common human condition. We are all poor.  Fasting is an effort we make to experience the human condition, especially as it’s reflected in the poor of this world. It counters our tendency to independence and isolation.

Too often today, I feel, fasting becomes a self-help project.  Maybe we can lose a few pounds and be a healthier person, and so in the end it all comes down to us.

That’s why mercy follows prayer and fasting.  It’s the gift of life and love that we give to others.
Without mercy–a better way to describe almsgiving, I think– prayer and fasting are ineffective.

“Give to the poor and you give to yourself. “