Catholics are very familiar with the season of Lent. Many are aware of the need to give up something. Lent can be a time of increased prayer, making time to go to confession, doing acts of charity for those in need and some might even remember to give up meat on Fridays. All these actions during Lent are reminders to make room for God in our lives. Fasting is a very powerful way for us to cleanse ourselves and take on something new. Fasting is part of many religions, and it is talked about in both Old and New Testaments. Fasting involves doing something less in our lives so that we might be filled with something better. Catholics are reminded that fasting is an act that we should all be willing to enter. Fasting gives us the opportunity to lessen our need or dependence on things that have over time, taken more control or space in our lives, things that in the end really make life more difficult or even less fulfilling.
We can get so used to some things that we are not even aware they take so much of our time and energy. Fasting lets go of something and makes room for something that is even better. Fasting might involve eating less. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday all Catholics are asked to fast. Our tradition is that Fridays are days of fasting and abstaining from meat. To eat less reminds us to hunger for the Lord. There is a lot of hunger for things other than food, and much of this hunger is placed before God. Fasting from electronics, from over working, from activities that consume us or make us neglect responsibilities or even the people we love, can help us reprioritise our daily actions. Fasting makes room for the right things in life. Our relationships can be renewed, and our love is focused not on things, but on people.
Fasting from selfish acts can help us turn our acts towards doing good things for others. Fasting can help us be more attentive and less distracted, to become better spouses, parents, partners, children, co-workers and even better neighbours. Without fasting there is no reason to let go of anything to make room for Christ. To say “yes” to God means we say “no” to the little things in life. The end result cannot just be making our lives miserable for six weeks; rather, the intent of fasting and sacrificing is to allow our souls to better see the good things in life. May these six weeks of fasting lead us towards the seven weeks and more of Easter joy.