Last year, for the first time, I fasted during Lent. I made Friday my fast day and fasted from sunup to sundown. It was an interesting experiment. Some days it wasn’t too hard, other days the hunger was intense, or I would get a bad headache by the end of the day. The point of fasting (especially as part of Lenten devotion) isn’t for it to be easy, though.
This past month, I spent 3 weeks sick with the flu and then bronchitis. During that time, I had little energy for anything and an appetite to match. Every day was difficult and it was even hard to sleep thinking about the things I had to do with such little resources. As I thought about fasting for Lent this year, I felt like I had already been through a fast-like experience. I wasn’t sure it would be good for my body as I healed to put it through the physical fast, so I decided against following the routine I began last year.
As I was searching for alternatives to the Friday fast, my wife passed along this list from Pope Francis to which our Associate Pastor had posted a link on Facebook. I’m trying to keep these guidelines in mind as I go through the season of 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 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.
A few of these, such as “fast from pressures and be prayerful” and “fast from worries and trust in God,” are especially meaningful to me this season. I hope I am able to keep them in my heart and mind and continue to cultivate habits that make them part of my life.