In our fast-paced world, it is always a challenge to focus on our spiritual lives and the discipline required to make Lent a truly special time of personal growth and on-going conversion. Prayer, being more generous (traditionally referred to as "giving alms") and fasting are the traditional marks of these 40 days. But, as we all know, it's not very easy to deliberately break our negative habits, and even more so, our way of viewing things.
Several years ago, as I was preparing my "Pastor's Message" for the church bulletin during Lent, I came upon a reflection by a truly inspirational author and pastor, William A. Ward, that has helped me to shift the emphasis from "giving up something" to really "doing something positive" during this holy season. I believe that if we were to take a survey of Christians walking down the street, most would say Lent is about something they "gave up" until Easter.
I am convinced that when Lent moves from just "giving up" or fasting to "feasting" on good habits, the transformation can be truly amazing! This reflection challenges us to discover the power of truly positive, Christian living.
Feast vs. Fast this Lent:
• Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling in them.
• Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of life.
• Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.
• Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God.
• Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
• Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
• Fast from anger; feast on patience.
• Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
• Fast from worry; feast on divine order.
• Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
• Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
• Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.
• Fast from hostility; feast on non-resistance.
• Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
• Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
• Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal truth.
• Fast from discouragements; feast on hope.
• Fast from facts that depress; feast on verities that uplift.
• Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
• Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
• Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.
• Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.
• Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that undergirds
-- William Arthur Ward (American author, teacher and pastor, 1921-1994)
May we learn to feast on all that will help us become more spiritually awake and better followers of Jesus.
Follow Father Alberto Cutié on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@padrealberto