Fasting and Feasting

I love being Catholic for many reasons, one of them being that we get to make “New Year’s resolutions” twice: once on January 1 and a second time on Ash Wednesday, when the Church’s 40-day retreat begins. We call it Lent and it began two days ago. In our 24/7 culture, such moments in the Church’s liturgical/ spiritual year help us to take time to pause and take stock of our lives. The traditional summons in these 40 days is to increase giving of our time–talents–treasures, fasting from the things that aren’t good for us, and increasing our intentionality to step back from the bus-y-ness and spend time with God, aka praying. Far from being outdated, these disciplines still contain much practical wisdom in order to help us achieve greater balance and deeper meaning in our lives.lent-prayer-fasting-giving

This year I would like to pair my fasting practices with feasting ones. Yes, you read that correctly. Any depriving becomes richer when paired with a certain type of feasting. The first time I came across this coupling was when I read this Lenten Litany of Fasting and Feasting by William Arthur Ward. So in my quiet prayer hour early this morning, the following litany slowly sprung from my heart. I share it here publicly to inspire others and as a way to encourage myself to truly live this fasting and feasting in the next remaining days leading up to Easter:

Fasting from worldly ambition,
while feasting on God’s faithfulness;
Fasting from shallow pleasures,
while feasting on spiritual riches;
Fasting from mundane distractions,
while feasting on meaning, depth and purpose;
Fasting from resentment and irritation,
while feasting on love and mercy;
Fasting from closed-mindedness,
while feasting on surrender and ongoing conversion;
Fasting from hardness of heart,
while feasting on generosity and joy;
In my fasting and feasting, may God be praised …

How do you live the three Lenten invitations of fasting, praying and giving? Or if you do not observe Lent, how do you build into your lives seasons or disciplines of stepping back in order to re-align, re-calibrate and re-orient?

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