I was sure we were low on flour. And I don’t like going to the cupboard to bake something—which is usually at the last minute because Peter says, “I have to bring a snack to class tonight”—only to find there’s not enough flour for the recipe. So I brought home a ten-pound sack of high-quality pastry flour with my groceries. But when I went to pour it into the canister, low and behold, it was already full to the top. There was no room to add the new and special ingredient.
Fasting is kind of like that flour canister. If the container of our soul is already full, there is no room for anything else.
Thus fasting is the practice of “emptying.” You have to empty out what’s in there, before there is room for a fresh start. To give Jesus a clean room to live in our lives, we have to empty the heart that is overflowing with affection for the world!
And the world certainly has a hold of most of us. We say we are too busy for church, too busy to pray, too tired to go to Confession, too distracted to read Lenten material. But we do “love” our chocolate, our TV shows, our dance classes, etc. Work, family, chores and recreation fill up our days. Thus we have no room for God. The canister is full.
Lent is about returning to the basics. We have time, IF we make time. We have love to give to God, IF we release our attachments to worldly loves. A teacher from New Jersey writes that this Lent,
“I will give up listening to the radio or music in the car, although I love it. This will give me time to pray the Rosary or say a Divine Mercy Chaplet.”
She says she will also give up between meal snacks and do a complete fast on Wednesday and Friday as a sacrifice in honor of special prayer intentions.
A retired teacher from Iowa says she gives up sweets during Lent. This is easy to do when she looks instead for the “sweetness” that comes from loving God!
Giving up worldly things is not a hardship, when it is viewed as giving up something of lesser value for something that has so much greater value! When we understand Lent as a process of joining with Jesus in his forty days in the desert, we realize we are emptying ourselves of frivolous attachments. Then we can be filled up by God! That is the ultimate goal of life!
Let’s begin now! Fasting is not hard when it is viewed in the context of what we gain. Imagine feeling the peace that comes when we give our worries to God. Remember the sense of surety that comes when we place our deepest desires in the hands of Jesus.
Prayer and fasting work together.
One of my 3rd grade Sunday School students said she prayed because she was worried about a test and she promised not to eat candy that day as her “offering.” The result of her passionate prayer was that the test seemed easier and she got a good grade!
When we empty the heart of worldly cravings, we create a private place for prayer. Then, we have prepared our souls for Jesus who willing gave up his very life, out of love for us.
Surely, we can empty our souls, so we can be filled up by Him!