This week we will solemnize the beginning of Lent with Ash Wednesday. Yes, a time for greater prayer and fasting.
At first, we may think that it is time to cut down on food and one of our favorite treats. Yes, this or any other sacrifice that is close to your heart would be a good choice. We pray and fast in order to prove to Jesus how much we love him and to make reparation for our sins and the sins of the world.
However, there are many ways a person can fast. I have my thoughts, words, actions and sentiments. Yes, this is what comes from me during the day. And I would like to pay particular attention to these during this special season.
What, exactly does it mean to fast in thought, word, deed and feelings?
Thoughts come from the way I see things. I can see things with the eyes of God. When I see things that I think are happening for this reason or that I can put an interpretation that is good. The interpretation can be positive. Now I choose to think good thoughts about others and about what is happening at the moment.
Words come from my heart. Jesus said, “From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” How is my heart? When I hear something I automatically want to give my opinion. I can make the conversation positive and pleasing to the Lord by defending the good name of others, by speaking about good things and looking at the beautiful side of the conversation or situation. Only God can be the judge of anyone.
Actions come from the way I think. However, before I do something, I can ask, “Am I doing this for God?” There are many opportunities for making sacrifices during the day; the job that needs to be done well, to wait for awhile before taking that cup of coffee, to be cheerful with the family when there are many worries, etc. It is for me to find that little sacrifice I can offer to Jesus with my actions.
All of this is possible through prayer. Before the closing of the day, in prayer, I can ask Jesus to help me see tomorrow and how I would like to live it for him. It is at this time I can pray for the strength to be able to see how I would think, speak, and act in the situations that will arise and live them as Jesus would. It doesn’t take long to pray this way. It is to be in conversation with Jesus about tomorrow.
Prayer and fasting is a form of humility. Our thoughts, words, and actions come from a heart that is full of sentiments of love for Jesus. We know that we cannot be good without the help of God. To follow Jesus is to follow his way. Jesus fasted and prayed. When Jesus came down from the mountain from prayer, the disciples asked him to teach them how to pray. And Jesus taught them the Our Father.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
In the Our Father we reverence God’s name, we pray that his will be done, we trust that he will give us the where-with-all to live each moment of our life and we ask that he will forgive us our faults and failings as we forgive those who may have hurt us or caused us some sorrow. And lastly we pray for strength and that we may be delivered from what could harm us in body and in soul.
Our love of God is like a weaving of special colors and designs that are formed by our thoughts, words, actions and sentiments. The colors and designs come from what we think, say and do and to the degree we do these things with love.
The days of Lent offer us a more intense time of prayer and fasting in preparation for the beautiful feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
by Sr. Barbara Gerace