Friday after Ash Wednesday
Lent is the time we’re supposed to give up things, right? Television, golf, dessert. We’ve all heard the question: "What are you giving up for Lent?" During my RCIA class, one candidate asked: "Do we give up something as a punishment?"
God, speaking through Isaiah, provides the correct response: "Do you call this a fast?"
There is so much more to Lent than punishment or giving up chocolate or cookies or television. There is taking on something: Christ. Lent is all about Christ, about transformation – our transformation in Christ.
We fast so that we may grow in Christ, to become more like Christ. Prayer, almsgiving, and confession are part of that transformation. Lent is a time of renewal. Anything less is superficial.
To the question, "what are you giving up for Lent?" perhaps the answer should be to:
Fast from judging others. Feast on God dwelling in us.
Fast from anger. Feast on patience.
Fast from worry. Feast on God’s providence.
Fast from complaining. Feast on appreciation.
Fast from self-concern. Feast on compassion for others.
Fast from discouragement. Feast on hope.
Fast from useless chatter. Feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from bitterness. Feast on forgiveness.
That is transformation. That is a fast.
Deacon Manuel Valencia is on the staff at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.