Lent – Fasting AND Feasting?

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 […]

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; contemplate simplicity.
Fast from pressure 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.
Pope Francis

Recently this teaching from Pope Francis popped up on my Facebook page. I remembered that I had pondered this very topic in the past and went to my journal to see what I wrote, finding it was from Ash Wednesday on March 1, 2006. Here is what I wrote then…

Lent is a time for us to ‘”fast” from what separates us from experiencing God in our lives, and also reminds us to “feast” on that which brings us closer to the Ground and Source of All-being. What should I be fasting from? What should I be feasting on?

Fasting…from negativity about
-my everyday circumstances,
-my marriage,
-my future.

Fasting…from negativity;
-from “glass half-empty,”
-from “not good enough.”

Feasting…on gratitude for gifts freely given;
-for my life, just as it is,
-for my family,
-for people who love me,
-for my personal talents.

Feasting… on gratitude for gifts freely given;
-for the beauty of the natural world,
-for shelter and food and work,
-for time to “just be.”

Many of us grew up in the Church with the admonishment to “give up” something we like during Lent. As children, we gave up candy or some other delectable food that we loved. Some of us continue that childish way of looking at Lenten fasting by asking “what should I give up for Lent?” This approach seems to put the focus on deprivation, on depriving myself of something that I like, rather than on a yearning for true spiritual growth and a desire to deepen into the breadth and depth of Universal Love.

Pope Francis asks us to become aware of the emotions that take us away from God and from each other. We are not to wallow in those feelings, nor reject them, nor beat ourselves up about how “bad” we are. We become aware of them, recognize them, stop, breathe, allow ourselves to FEEL them in our hearts and bodies, sit with them non-judgmentally, and allow them to naturally flow through us and dissipate.

Then begins the feasting! If we have said or thought hurtful things toward someone else or to ourselves, we can replace those words with kind words, with compassion, with patience. Gratitude blooms when we ponder all of the unasked-for gifts that we receive every day. Gratitude always lifts our spirits when we are in a funk! Reminding ourselves of the Immense Love in which we are always held, and fully trusting in this Love, frees us from anxieties, especially when we are experiencing things over which we have little or no control. Reconciling with those people or situations in which we hold grudges frees both ourselves and the other. And finally, though there are many words here written, fast from words often, be silent, go inward, then listen.

So, what are you choosing to fast from this Lent?

Start with one thing that Pope Francis mentions which frequently arises in your thoughts or emotions. Begin to notice from moment-to-moment in your day when this occurs. Stop, breathe, and when you have time for yourself to do so, sit with it in silence and ponder it deeply. Do not beat yourself up or put yourself down, just ask for the Great Healer to heal whatever it is that keeps it burning in you.

Then, let the feasting begin!!!

-Rita Simon

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