Lent: A time for fasting and feasting Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Wednesday, Mar. 11, 2009 -- 1:00 AM

Lent is a time for fasting. When we think of fasting, we probably think of fasting and abstaining from food and drink for the sake of Jesus according to the Lenten regulations.

However, in Isaiah 58:1-9, through Isaiah, God reveals another kind of fasting that enables us to feast and feed on living God's way more fully.

God wants fasting that releases those bound unjustly, sets free the oppressed, breaks every yoke, shares bread with the hungry, shelters the oppressed and the homeless, clothes the naked, does not turn away from our own, and similar works of compassionate love and mercy.

Suggestions for fasting/feasting

Here are a few suggestions for this kind of fasting and feasting. The Holy Spirit will surely show us more ways if we ask:

  • Fast from fear. Feast on faith.
  • Abstain from despair. Feed on hope.
  • Fast from rudeness. Feast on politeness.
  • Abstain from stinginess. Feed those in need from our pantries of want and abundance.
  • Fast from spreading bad news. Feast on spreading God's Good News.
  • Abstain from taking our blessings for granted. Feed on gratitude for our blessings.
  • Fast from violence. Feast on sharing God's gift of peace.
  • Abstain from impatience. Feed on patience.
  • Fast from poor sportsmanship. Feast on good sportsmanship.
  • Abstain from gossip. Feed on praising the goodness of others.
  • Fast from cursing and swearing. Feast on reverencing God's Holy Name.
  • Abstain from disrespect. Feed on respect for others and all God's creation.
  • Fast from insensitivity to the pain of others. Feast on Christ-like compassion.
  • Abstain from dishonesty and insincerity. Feed on honesty and sincerity.
  • Fast from blind and deaf criticism. Feast on announcing the goodness in the character of others.
  • Abstain from resentment. Feed on love and forgiveness.
  • Fast from words that wound. Feast on words that heal.
  • Abstain from excessive, mindless chatter. Feed on listening in graced silence.
  • Fast from gloom. Feast on healthy Catholic joy and humor.
  • Abstain from "Martha" busyness. Pray that Jesus feeds us with "Mary's better part!"

Through Isaiah, God promises that if we fast in these ways, then we shall call upon the Lord and the Lord will answer. We shall cry for help and God will say, "Here I am!"

Making good choices

We may have already chosen our Lenten penance. But even if we have, these suggestions can remind us that Lent is a season of grace that invites us to make and affirm good choices.

The choices we make can help to make us grow more fully in God's image. Living a good Lent can also prepare us to celebrate Easter and Pentecost with renewed faith.

Good choices affect us in time and Eternity. The time to make and/or affirm our choice of a Lenten penance that helps us grow in the image of Jesus is NOW!

Fr. Don Lange is pastor emeritus of the Diocese of Madison.