Walking Our Faith: Eat, pray, love — a 3-part guide for Lent
Walking Our Faith
After attending Ash Wednesday Mass, I stopped by the Breckenridge library. One of my favorite librarians, Jane, came out with an armful of books for me. She asked what I had decided to give up for Lent, I believe because she had read my column last week.
I sheepishly confessed that I had settled on something only the night before. I decided that my Lenten sacrifice would be to give up my nightly viewing of political talk shows and the accompanied scrolling through social media.
From 6 p.m. until bedtime, no TV, no computer, no social media. Instead, I will read, knit, listen to audiobooks or classical music — all activities I love yet somehow fall by the wayside once I turn on the TV and pick up my phone.
Although this is being done as a Lenten sacrifice, it’s also a personal reckoning. I say I value books over TV, but I haven’t been living that truth.
Even after I’ve turned off the TV for the night and headed to bed to read until I fall asleep, I check news sites until my eyes grow too heavy to read. How to reconcile my aspiration with my reality?
That’s what a season of fasting creates, space to realign our priorities to reflect who we believe we are or want to be.
If we stick with our commitment and the discomfort it might cause, we come face to face with the truth of who we really are, not the image we hold in our mind.
I have a stack of Catholic classics I’ve begun but not finished. Instead, I prioritize social media. That is an uncomfortable truth, but the evidence is clear.
Will I stick with my abstinence from evening TV and social media? Will I finish those spiritual books I say I want to read? I’ll let you know.
Fasting is a time for us to choose one thing we are willing to put aside so that we can focus our attention on God and who God says we are: his beloved.
Fasting is one of three Lenten practices, the other two being praying and almsgiving (eat, pray, love). Fasting is not about denial of self as an exercise in endurance, rather it is the elimination of an obstacle in our closer walk with God, which might also be an obstacle in our relationships with family, friends and ourselves.
Take a moment to answer these questions:
- What is your biggest preoccupation?
- What consumes your mind with anxious thoughts?
- What are you chasing?
- What keeps you awake at night?
- What do you need to take a break from so you can remember who you are?
Before our foreheads were marked with ashes on Wednesday morning, Father Boguslaw intoned the familiar refrain, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
During this Lenten walk with Jesus, let us fast with a purpose. This quote by Episcopalian priest Barbara Cawthorne Crafton is a prayer when our lives are consumed with getting more or getting by. It’s a reminder that Jesus came to share our journey in our most elemental form:
“We are heavy laden. Refresh us, O homeless, jobless, possession-less Savior. You came naked and naked you go. And so it is for us. So it is for all of us.” — “Bread and Wine”
If you are overwhelmed with stress from a year of pandemic challenges and the idea of fasting feels crushing, what if you fast from the noise in your life for a few minutes each day?
Try this: The next time you’re in your car, turn off the radio and experience the silence. Allow yourself to be enveloped. Notice how it sharpens what you see with your eyes. Feel your shoulders relax. Allow your mind to rest in the silence. Then, might I suggest you begin a conversation with God.
Next week, we will talk about prayer, what it means to pray, and the different ways we can make time for prayer so that as we fast, we can seek a deeper relationship with God.
Let’s read through the Gospels in 2021. This week, we’re reading Matthew Chapters 7 and 8.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” — Matthew 7: 7-11
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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