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We’ve all heard of selective hearing, right?
Well, selective Lenting, I think I made that up – because I found myself completely guilty of it.
When I wrote about how I wasn’t going to give up Wine for Lent- I stated that I would pray for 20 minutes a day.
Which is a great goal – but what I forgot was
Prayer is only one pillar of Lent.
There are two more – fasting and almsgiving.
I was quickly reminded of almsgiving and found a great way to incorporate that into my daily life. I’ll share more about that in another post.
What I totally forgot about was the importance of fasting.
In what seems like a lifetime ago, I read that the best way to fast was to consume only bread and water.
I don’t remember what I was reading at the time or what motivated me to fast – but I embraced it. I started fasting one day a week, and I’m not even sure it was Lent at the time.
I was a teacher in a Catholic high school and one of our benefits at work was a “free” lunch. I walked up to the counter, picked up a bottle of water and asked the woman at the deli for bread. Our school minister, a kind priest named Father Al, witnessed this and inquired about what I was having for lunch that day. I told him what I read and what I was doing. He looked at me, looked at the bread and looked back up at me and said:
You do something else.”
I knew exactly why he said it. I was thin. I still am. It’s not because I eat healthy and exercise regularly – it’s all genetics.
He gave me that advice out of love. Father Al wanted me to be and stay healthy.
That was years ago.
The problem is, I don’t think I ever found or looked for the something else.
What really reminded me about the importance of fasting this year was the Gospel the second Sunday of Lent.
Jesus, being fully divine, fasted for 40 days.
He ate nothing??!
On Ash Wednesday I ate a donut.
It was there, I was hungry and I rationalized that it wasn’t a full meal, so it was okay.
I’ve grown lazy.
Somehow in my spiritual journey in this life I went from just eating bread and water on a regular day to eating a donut on Ash Wednesday.
What the what?
That same weekend I heard the Gospel about Jesus fasting in the desert for 40 days I felt compelled to watch a video where Jim Caviezel discusses his experience filming the Passion of the Christ.
Caviezel states in this interview (which I highly recommend watching) that the whole experience for him was a spiritual journey.
Jim Caviezel wanted people to see Jesus, not Him. He felt strongly that the only way viewers would see Jesus and not him was through prayer -with prayer and fasting.
Isn’t that what we as Christians should all desire???
Caviezel’s testimony and performance in The Passion of the Christ demonstrate how fasting and prayer can allow others to see Jesus in ourselves.
Do we desire for others to see Jesus, or do we desire others to see us?
Well, isn’t that a great question to meditate upon?
I’m hanging my head in shame a little bit.
So I started really thinking about fasting.
And the next day I caught a stomach bug.
It became apparent to me that I need to fast. The stomach bug helped me with that for a week.
I started to research more about fasting, and came across this article: Spiritual Weapons: Fasting
The article talks about how if we neglect fasting, our spiritual life will always be mediocre.
Caviezal states in the interview how he threw himself into prayer and fasting because he did not want to film the Passion of mediocrity.
Caviezal also points out in the interview:
“Everyone wants Resurrection, but no one wants suffering.”
I love how the article Spiritual Weapons: Fasting gives this quote from Saint Basil:
Let us fast an acceptable and very pleasing fast to the Lord. True fast is the estrangement from evil, temperance of tongue, abstinence from anger, separation from desires, slander, falsehood and perjury. Privation of these is true fasting.
If what this article states is true – if “fasting energizes prayer and prayer energizes fasting; if both are weak without the other” . . . how can we incorporate both into our modern, busy lives.
The one way I know I can do this is to fast from listening to music or from scrolling through social media and opt to pray instead.
When I drive, I almost automatically turn on the radio. As I thought about fasting this week, I chose to not turn on the music. What would strengthen that fast would be to pray while driving. When the stomach bug had me in bed, I turned on youtube and searched “Rosary”. I laid in bed and listened to the Rosary as I silently prayed with the voice coming from my PC.
I find that I do need help with this fasting thing, so here are some of my favorite fasting resources:
25 ideas for Non-Traditional Fasting, go to BeautifulCamoulage.com which can be found in this post: Hearts, Wine and Time: Your Ultimate Guide for Lent 2019
Videos to watch:
How do you fast? How do you combine fasting with prayer?