What Should I Give Up This Year for Lent?
Holy Father Pope Francis asks us to reconsider the heart of this activity this Lenten season. He says, fasting must never become superficial. He quotes St. John Chrysostom: “No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.” He further says, “when ever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.” He continues that, “We end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of others, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.”
But when we fast from this indifference, we can begin to feast on love. In fact, Lent is the perfect time to learn how to love again. Jesus—the great protagonist of this holy season—certainly showed us the way. In him, God descends all the way down to bring everyone up. In his life and his ministry, no one is excluded. “What are you giving up for Lent?” If you want to change your body, perhaps alcohol, food, and candy is the way to go. But if you want to change your heart, a harder fast is needed. This narrow road is gritty, but it isn’t sterile. It will make room in ourselves to experience a love that can make us whole and set us free. Let us love one another and respect each other.