Well, yesterday, I finished moving several files on my computer to my archive folder. Most of them were related to Advent and Christmas. It really seems as though that season of the church year just finished. Now, we are in the midst of the Lenten season, and Easter is quickly approaching. Time is moving forward indeed. I do have to admit that I was not ready for Lent. I hadn’t yet contemplated what might be my Lenten spiritual practice this year. Often, when Lent arrives, people consider what they might “give up” for Lent. Usually, I hear jokes about giving up chocolate or some other typically silly “sacrifice.” Too often, I think that Lent is seen as a time of deprivation and even misery. Yet there is another way to look at Lent – as an opportunity to grow, both spiritually and personally. Suppose we want to grow in this way. In that case, we need to focus on “giving up” something entirely different from chocolate or some other “bad” habit. Focusing on positive change is an opportunity for growth. Now, I would admit that giving up chocolate could be seen as a positive change. However, we can go much deeper – we can embark on a fasting season – but not in the ordinary sense of fasting. I recently received an email that contained suggestions of what we might “give-up” for Lent, of how we might “fast.” The recommendations come from Pope Francis:
- 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 patience.
- Fast from worries and have trust in God.
- Fast from complaints; contemplate simplicity
- Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
- Fast from bitterness; fill your hearts with joy.
- Fast from selfishness and be compassionate.
- Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
- Fast from words; be silent and listen.
There, now I have some ideas of what my Lenten spiritual practices could be. I hope you find something useful here as well.