A Feast for Lent
The whole of March falls in Lent this year. Last month I wrote about Lenten journeys; now a slightly different way of looking at it.
The poet-priest George Herbert surprised many by calling Lent a feast. That’s certainly not how it has traditionally been seen: Christians through the ages have been called to fast not feast during this season of the Church’s year, so that they become more aware of their reliance on God and not on earthly things.
But Lent can be a feast as well as a fast, if we think carefully about what we are feasting on. It is a period during which we are encouraged to grow in grace and love for God and for our fellow human beings. Love is surely more feast-like than fast-like. It is a joyful thing, something to be celebrated.
I have been struck this year by some words of Pope Francis, written for Lent 2017. He talks of fasting not from food but from unloving words and behaviour. If we give up those things then we can truly feast on the alternatives, which are rooted in love.
1. Fast from Hurting Words and say Kind words.
2. Fast from Sadness and be filled with Gratitude.
3. Fast from Anger and be filled with Patience.
4. Fast from Pessimism and be filled with Hope.
5. Fast from Worries and Trust in God.
6. Fast from Complaints and contemplate Simplicity.
7. Fast from Pressures and be Prayerful.
8. Fast from Bitterness and fill your heart with Joy.
9. Fast from Selfishness and be Compassionate to others.
10. Fast from Grudges and be Reconciled.
11. Fast from Words and be Silent so you can listen.
Fasting from the negative and feasting on the positive can surely only be a good thing.
With best wishes