In preparation for Lent Family Fast Day, we asked Fr Nicholas Crowe some questions about Lent. He told us what fasting means to him and why fasting this Lent is a real opportunity for spiritual growth and love of neighbour.
What does fasting mean to you?
Let’s start by thinking about why fasting in a Christian sense is different from dieting. It is because Christian fasting comes from an act of faith. It is our faith that things can be different, that through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are called to be a new creation.
So often our cravings and routines can become selfish and block out God and the needs of others. So we need Lent as a time to turn back to God, to make a special effort to let Jesus be the centre of our lives. I see Lent as an invitation to renew and deepen our conversion, a spiritual gym work out. However, in our Lenten gym, God’s grace lifts the weights and causes the real change in us. All we have to do is turn up.
Taking part in Family Fast Day is our way of turning up, of saying yes to God. Yes God, cause great change in me this Lent. Be bold enough to join the fast and let Jesus show you the injustice, the marginalised and the unloved that need you today.
Why is fasting necessary in Lent?
Prayer, fasting and giving to the poor go hand in hand and I’ll try and explain why.
Think about what structures your day. Is it your prayer? Praying in the morning, midday and before bed at night is a way to keep focused on God and let the Holy Spirit shape our lives. Or does food, work, chores or Netflix define your day? Choosing to have a simple soup lunch or miss a meal is way of breaking our routine and helps us to revaluate how we spend our time. Do I appreciate all the good things that are in my life?
It is so easy to take our food, clean water and homes for granted but do I pause to say thank you and give what I can for those who are hungry, homeless or whose only water supply is contaminated and harmful? The great gift that God gives us when we pray and fast is our neighbour. Our brothers and sisters who are struggling to survive due to hunger, poverty or persecutions were in need before we fasted, but now we hear them and now we care.
So what will you be doing for Lent this year?
Personally, this Lent, I’ll start by making a special effort to do the things I should be doing all year round! That means not pressing the snooze button on my alarm clock, so I have time to get up early and say my personal prayers.
I’ll make a special effort to support the brothers in my community. I’m addicted to caffeine so I always try to give up coffee. However, giving up coffee last year put me in such a bad mood that my brothers told me to start drinking coffee again!
If your Lenten promise doesn’t bring you closer to God and those around you, try something else. My suggestion is to ask a close friend or family member to suggest what you should do for Lent. If they know you well, they will probably suggest something that will really help you to grow closer to Christ. I asked a friend this Lent and was told I should call home more and put aside more time to speak to my Mum and brother.
Whatever you decide to fast from and whatever you are able to give this Family Fast day, I pray that Lent will be a time of renewed conversion for you and that we can rejoice together in Jesus’ resurrection when Easter comes.