It’s been three weeks from Ash Wednesday and about half way through the great season of Lent. Unfortunately, many of us treat our Lenten practices much like New Year’s resolutions; once the fervor of Ash Wednesday and those marvelous ashes wear off, our practices fall away. Our determination to pray, fast and give alms washes away just like that ashy cross on our foreheads. Don’t despair! It’s not too late to renew our desire to use this Lenten time as an opportunity to be transformed.
What is the purpose of Lent anyway? According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “the real aim of Lent is, above all else, to prepare [us] for the celebration of the death and Resurrection of Christ…the better the preparation the more effective the celebration will be.” It’s an opportunity to prepare for the Feast. “The purpose of Lent is to provide…purification…from sin and selfishness through self-denial and prayer, by creating…the desire to do God’s will and to make [God’s] kingdom…come… in their hearts.”
So often this “purification” is reduced to giving up some bad habit that will result in better health if not in a transformed heart. This might make us feel better but does not contribute to our making the world a better place. Here is a list of ideas to consider ways to jump start your Lent once again and make a difference in our hurting world.
Lent is a Time of Feasting and Fasting
Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all 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 pressure; 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 discouragement; feast on hope.
Fast from facts that depress; feast on certainties that uplift.
Fast from laziness; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.
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 prayers that [strengthens].
*Adapted from ideas expressed by William A. Ward and Fr. Jude Siciliano, OP