by Ram Ritho
Q. Hi again!
Q. So you were explaining fasting and abstinence yesterday…
A. Yes… I think the only other ideas the Church mentions about fasting and abstinence is that she obliges all her children between 16 and 59 years old to fast, and all those above 14 to abstain… So you can let your small bro know he should be abstaining as well 🙂
Q. Any other ideas about fasting? I’m looking for things I can do like throughout Lent rather than just on 2 days of Lent.
A. Well you’re in luck. There are many “fasting” ideas that many ordinary Christians have lived over the years…
At the back of your mind, don’t forget that all these ideas or suggestions are there for one purpose: to help you purify yourself of sin and inclination to sin (i.e. vices… bad habits) and so help you to not just get closer to Christ but to BE more like Christ.
If the main thing that separates us from Christ is sin, then that would be the first thing to fast from. Try regular confession during Lent.
Then there are the vices that lead to sin – try fasting from those: anger, hatred, judging others, complaining, resentment or bitterness…
Q. Okay… interesting… but…
A. …but still a bit theoretical?
Q. Kind of…
A. That tends to happen when one makes ‘negative’ resolutions: resolutions “not to do something” such as not to get angry. Many saints advise instead ‘positive’ resolutions where you go out and do something.
Q. Do you have examples of such?
A. One saint does. He writes:
- Penance is fulfilling exactly the timetable you have fixed for yourself, even though your body resists or your mind tries to avoid it by dreaming up useless fantasies.
- Penance is getting up on time and also not leaving for later, without any real reason, that particular job that you find harder or most difficult to do.
- Penance is knowing how to reconcile your duties to God, to others and to yourself, by making demands on yourself so that you find enough time for each of your tasks.
- You are practicing penance when you lovingly keep to your schedule of prayer, despite feeling worn out, listless or cold.
- Penance means being very charitable at all times towards those around you, starting with the members of your own family.
- Penance is to be full of tenderness and kindness towards the suffering, the sick and the infirm.
- It is to give patient answers to people who are boring and annoying.
- It means interrupting your work or changing your plans, when circumstances make this necessary, above all when the just and rightful needs of others are involved.
- Penance consists in putting up good-humouredly with the thousand and one little pinpricks of each day;
- It is not abandoning your job, although you have momentarily lost the enthusiasm with which you started it;
- It is in eating gladly whatever is served, without being fussy.
- For parents and, in general, for those whose work involves supervision or teaching, penance is to correct whenever it is necessary. This should be done bearing in mind the type of fault committed and the situation of the person who needs to be so helped, not letting oneself be swayed by subjective viewpoints, which are often cowardly and sentimental.
- A spirit of penance keeps us from becoming too attached to the vast imaginative blueprints we have made for our future projects, where we have already foreseen our master strokes and brilliant successes.
Q. Dude! Those are more than enough suggestions!
A. There are still more… But with these, see if you can already choose 3 or 4 of them that you can live every day during this Lent.