I like the season of Lent, it is a time to reset my balance point. It is a spiritual time for fresh seeds and new growth. The word Lent is derived from Old English lencten which means lengthen and refers to the increase of daylight hours. It is a period of transition from late winter to early spring…the time of developing roots.
When I returned to the church as an adult, Lent took on a new definition from that which I had been taught as a child. I no longer saw Lent as a time for suffering through meatless Fridays and weeks without candy, or attending solemn church services under the dedicated watch of habited nuns.
I’m not a catechist who teaches about the Church and don’t know all the formal rules and fancy words for this liturgical season. What I do know is that it is a time to practice prayer and charity, a time of offering up to Our Lord little bits of myself.
I and many Christians “give up” something during Lent. I don’t remember exactly when the concept took hold, but at some point I chose to do something rather than not do. One year during a late winter retreat a handout was distributed and the idea of giving up, or fasting, took on a whole new purpose. Here is what it said:
- Fast from bitterness; turn to forgiveness
- Fast from hatred; return good for evil
- Fast from negativism; be positive
- Fast from complaining; be grateful
- Fast from pessimism; be an optimist
- Fast from harsh judgments; think kindly thoughts
- Fast from worry; trust in Divine Providence
- Fast from discouragement; be full of hope
- Fast from anger; be more patient
- Fast from pettiness; be more mature
- Fast from gloom’ enjoy the beauty around you
- Fast from jealousy; pray for trust
- Fast from gossiping; control your thoughts
- Fast from sin; turn to virtue
One year I wrote a series of weekly columns about “Fasting From” certain attitudes and striving to become more virtuous. A few of the columns that were written made their way into my book Cultivating God’s Garden through Lent.
Let us prepare for our journey this Lent with our hearts open, and accepting the challenge to our perspectives of what we are truly called to be as Christians. Choose one of the Fasts listed above and make it a daily practice. Science has shown that a habit can be developed in thirty days. How much more secure can we become in forty?
Copyright 2014 Margaret Rose Realy
About the Author
Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB lives an eremitic life and is the author of Cultivating God’s Garden through Lent, A Garden of Visible Prayer: Creating a Personal Sacred Space One Step at a Time, 2nd Edition, and A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac. A freelance writer with a Benedictine spirituality, Margaret has a master’s degree in communications and is a Certified Greenhouse Grower, Advanced Master Gardener, liturgical garden consultant, and workshop/retreat leader.