Make This Lent Different!
Fasting and Feasting in Lent
- Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.
- Fast from facts that depress; feast on truths which uplift.
- Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
- Fast from suspicion; feast on openness.
- 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 meaningful silence.
- Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that strengthens.
- Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
- Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
- Fast from personal anxiety; feast on trust in God.
- Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling in them.
- Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all in Christ.
- 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 wound; feast on phrases that heal.
- Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
- Fast from anger; feast on patience.
- Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
- Fast from worry; feast on God’s providence.
- Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
- Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Preparing For Imagine that this Lent is going to be different from every other Lent we've experienced. Think about the many graces that are offered to us this year. Let's even imagine that God is going to help transform our lives, leading us to greater freedom, greater joy, and deeper desire for love and service.
If We Want It, We Will Choose It Lent will be a wonderful season of grace for us if we give ourselves to it. In these days before Lent, we need to prepare our hearts. We can do so by realizing how much we want to grow in freedom, how much we need to lighten our spirits and experience real joy, and how much some parts of our lives really need changing.
Preparing our hearts is a process of preparing our desires. This means practicing a sense of anticipation. If I imagine Lent as an “ordeal” or a time I dread in some way, then I've already predisposed myself to not get very much out of it. The days before Lent are a time to anticipate something wonderful that is about to happen.
Our Focus: What God Wants to Give Us Our sense of excitement and anticipation will grow more easily if we begin to imagine what God wants to give us. Something is coming that we can truly look forward to. If we focus too much on what we are going to do or not do, we risk missing out on the gift God wants to give us.
Lent is about God's great desire to bless us. All grace comes from God and is, therefore, God's gift. It is given to us to free us to love others as our Lord has loved us.
Don't Start from a Dead Stop Taking some time to get ready for Lent ensures that we won't miss the first week or two of Lent because we are just getting started. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, but we want to be ready on that day and not just begin to think about Lent on that day. Part of what makes a vacation or an anniversary so special is the buildup, the anticipation.
Before Ash Wednesday, we should start asking ourselves some questions and begin making some preparations. Each of us can ask ourselves,
- What does God want to give me this year?
- What do I need to give up in order to be more open to receive God’s gift?
- What Lenten practices (prayer, fasting, almsgiving, service) do I need to embrace in order to become more loving?
It Doesn't Take Much Time It doesn't take a lot of time to prepare for Lent. It just takes desire and focus. God can do so much with our hearts when they are focused. We can give God more space to touch our hearts if we begin to establish some simple patterns. For example, we can wake up each morning and stand by the edge of our beds for a few moments, asking the Lord to let this coming Lent be a time of real conversion and an experience of God’s amazing grace. Our prayer might be general, or we might pray for a specific change that we know is needed in our lives.
Whatever we say, our Lord understands our words. We can make this simple connection with God in the time it would take us to put on our slippers. Similarly, we can spend a short time in prayer each night giving thanks to God before we go to bed. This pattern of simply focusing our morning and evening prayer can stir our spirits to look forward to and prepare for Lent as a season of grace.