“Let us fast an acceptable and very pleasing fast to the Lord. True fast is the estrangement from evil, temperance of tongue, abstinence from anger, separation from desires, slander, falsehood and perjury. Privation of these is true fasting.” – Saint Basil
Lent will shortly be upon us; a time of prayer, fasting and spiritual preparation before we celebrate the glory of the Resurrection. As Lent approaches many begin to think about what they will give up; sugar, chocolate, cigarettes, alcohol, the list is endless, and often more about improving the figure than self discipline. The difference our deprivation makes to the world can be minimal though, hopefully, the money we save is donated to a charity that will benefit others.
If we look at the words of St Basil and what he lists as an acceptable and pleasing fast to the Lord we can see something which will bring us great benefits as individuals but will also benefit all peoples. As we look at the problems facing our world we can see many are caused by words and actions resulting from anger, a desire for wealth, status or power, the harming of others through false statements and malice. The suffering of others is minimised while we seek more for ourselves.
Lent is a time when we look at how we have failed the Lord and how we can become the people He created us to be. Through our Lenten disciplines we seek to grow as spiritual beings, to put aside the values which bring misery to others and seek to bring God’s love to all creation. In order to grow through Lent we look deeply inside ourselves and acknowledge our failings, as we seek forgiveness so forgive those who have failed us. Through prayer and spiritual reading and study we seek to open ourselves up to Christ, to let His love fill us and teach us how to love all peoples, even when they differ from us.
As we grow closer to God through this Lenten season, as we allow the love and compassion of Christ to grow in us, so we will have a very precious gift to share with those who feel broken, unloved, or without hope. Each person we touch, and who feels cared for, is a step toward healing a broken world.
May God send the Holy Spirit to walk with us through our Lenten fast and guide us toward being the person He created us to be, a person filled with love, joy, and compassion, a person who is Christ’s light in the world.