LENT is the season that begins on Ash Wednesday (today) and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. Its duration is 40 days. Jesus, himself, endured 40 days of fast and prayer in the desert prior to His public ministry.
We lay people living in the world, we need not take on a monastic fast of bread and water. We can follow the Lenten custom of fasting by “giving something up”. This may include a favourite food, or pastime. We may choose to stop eating between meals, or skip dessert. We return it all to God for forty days, not because any of it is “bad”, but because it is indeed very good and only good things should be offered in sacrifice to God. We give them to God so that we learn not to put anything in God’s place in our lives.
We read in Isaiah 58:6 …
“Isn’t this the fast that I have chosen: to release the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?” So, while our bodily fasts and offerings are very important in order to focus our attention and love on higher things, we must also remember that our ability to overcome those traits which lead us to ‘harm’ others, is often a greater challenge. We receive the grace to do effect this good through prayer and we enable prayer to enter into our busy days when our minds are clear and our lives are not ‘ordered’ by the distractions around us.
By doing our best to rise above the merely natural in us and around us, we will notice a peace within and arrive at Easter Sunday pleased that we made the effort to rise above ourselves and ‘taste’ the fruits of our sacrifice.