“Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?”
Isaiah 58: 3
We abstain from meat on Fridays, have designated days to fast, and offer up our own sacrifices during the Lenten season. Sometimes, it can feel like it all goes unnoticed by God, and maybe we will not be encouraged to take it very seriously. We might think that we have to do something really hard for God to notice and be pleased. I used to approach Lenten fasts as an extremist, pushing to see how much intensity I could handle. Though a lot of good still came out of my fasts, I was missing the point.
What is the point? Does God notice? Is He pleased?
At the start of Lent, Ash Wednesday, we receive ashes. We recall the words God spoke to Adam, “You are dust, and to dust you shall return (Genesis 3: 19).” It is a humbling reminder that we have not created ourselves—that we are not in control of the amount of time we have on earth. This should not be confused as a command to lie in the ashes and remain in a pit of despair—as we must also remember the words from the Psalm, “He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap (113: 7).” We have been raised up, and we are to live in the light—His Light. The ashes are a reminder of where we come from, but also that we are now called to mission.
Throughout the Lenten season, we discipline ourselves to remember this calling.
Fasting is a concrete action to represent the sacrifice of our personal wills, making room for the acceptance of God’s Most Holy Will.
Abstaining from meat on Fridays and fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday keeps the Church united in our shared mission—to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28: 18-20). As we all have a different role within this mission (1 Corinthians 12: 12-31), we are also called to make personal sacrifices. These will not look the same, because we struggle with different personal sins—different obstacles that prevent us from fulfilling our mission. Lent is a time of purification. Weeds are removed so that the flowers have room to grow. How can you make your fast transform your life beyond Easter Sunday?
Looking at the seven deadly sins, I have proposed some ideas to help strengthen your Lenten sacrifices.
- Give up social media after 10 PM. Color a picture, pray a rosary, or read instead.
- Give up chocolate. Pray for self-control in desires of the flesh every time you crave it.
- Give up snacking in-between meals. Write a meal plan, and stick to it.
- Give up chocolate. Offer up a prayer of thanks for what you have every time you crave it.
- Give up Netflix. Donate the money to your parish or a non-profit organization.
- Give up chocolate. Make a fun treat to share with a friend or family member.
- Give up the snooze button. Get on your knees and offer your day up to the Lord.
- Give up chocolate. Get through your to-do list without focusing on rewards.
- Give up breaking the speed limit. Choose to be patient, and offer up frustrations.
- Give up chocolate. Pray for someone who annoys you every time you crave it.
- Give up comparing yourself to others. Write a letter to someone who has inspired you.
- Give up chocolate. Use the money to give a gift to someone you do not think deserves it.
- Give up doing what you want. Set aside time to discern what the Lord asks of you.
- Give up chocolate. Eat something you do not prefer.
Regardless of what you gave up, the Lord can transform you through it.
My point is not that you have to give up chocolate—I did not, myself—but God can transform you through the littlest sacrifice if your heart is in the right place. Will you let Him change you, or will you just wait anxiously for Easter to arrive? The point of fasting is not to sacrifice now and indulge later. It is also not supposed to make us intolerable to others as we are burdened by what we cannot have. Make a joyful sacrifice. Be renewed.
Give the Lord your chocolate, but do not keep from Him your heart.
Mikayla Ruth Koble is a Catholic writer and speaker for COR – Cats on Rockets, a non-profit ministry she co-founded in 2016. Originally from North Dakota, Mikayla has moved around the country and landed in Michigan. Wherever she goes, she seeks to lead others to an encounter with God’s Love and Power. To learn more about COR or get in touch with Mikayla, please check out www.catsonrockets.org! – See more at: https://arrayofhope.net/strong-in-him/#sthash.pjzcqJSp.dpuf