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Lent, a Season of Fasting: I Can’t Go Without…

What’s your favorite meal of the day? Despite all the multitude of options at lunch or dinner, I still really love breakfast.

My ideal breakfast is not that fancy: two eggs over-medium, grits with fresh cracked pepper, applewood bacon, a fluffy biscuit with raspberry jelly, and a bottomless cup of black coffee. And if I wasn’t concerned about my health, I’d most certainly add a stack of chocolate chip pancakes.

At the same time, most days of the week, I fast from dinner, with the occasional after-dinner snack, to lunch. Don’t get me wrong, for this is not for spiritual by dietary reasons.

And yet, fasting as a spiritual discipline is part of our faith tradition, finding its roots in the oldest of the Hebrew texts. Of course, we see Jesus fasting for forty days in the desert to draw closer to God at the beginning of his earthly ministry.

The concept of fasting is to take out food for a while, replacing that time and desire with focusing on God through prayer and reading of the Word.

As the fourth and fifth-century monk John Cassian put it, “Let us not believe that an external fast from visible food alone can possibly be sufficient for perfection of heart and purity of body unless with it there has also been united a fast of the soul.”

Have you ever considered cutting something out of your life, temporarily or permanently, out of a sense of devotion to God? Each individual has to think about what thing doing without for some time would be a challenge. For some, it might be as difficult as cutting out watching TV or drinking coffee. While for others, it might be as challenging as cutting out food and committing to periods of silence.

We are in the season of Lent, a 40-day journey with Jesus to Jerusalem and his gruesome death for our sake. In this season, participants are invited to prayer and repentance, fasting and contemplation, and sacrifice and giving. Lent is the ultimate season of renewal as we are transformed by drawing closer to Jesus.

Are you on this intentional journey? If not, are you not sure where to begin?

May the words of John Cassian beckon us forward into fasting in this Lenten season as a spiritual method of drawing us closer to God: “If then, with all the powers we have, we abstain from these in a most holy fast our observance of the bodily fast will be both useful and profitable.”


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