Growing up, the season of Lent meant giving up something. For me, it was usually candy or soda. Another year my brother and I decided to give up watching TV for 40 days (we succeeded!). As I grew older it was chocolate or wine. More recently I saw the benefit of doing something extra instead of giving something up; praying more, being more compassionate to others and going to daily Mass.
My aunt recently shared the following on her Facebook page. The list of unique ways to “fast” was thought provoking. It is a mix of giving up something that results in doing something extra.
The message that follows is attributed to Pope Francis and is titled: “Do you want to fast this lent?”
- Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
- Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
- Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
- Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
- Fast from worries and have trust in God.
- Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
- Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
- Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.
- Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.
- Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
- Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.
Fasting takes on a whole new meaning after reading the list of ways we can “give up” things, the result of which is actually doing something good–for ourselves and for others.
As a child, when the season of Lent ended, candy and soda — and especially TV — were once again okay to enjoy. When putting Pope Francis’ suggested ways to fast into action, however, I’m fairly certain the positive results — the good feelings, more meaningful relationships, a more prayerful and peaceful way of living– just might be reason enough to fast more often.