Bishop Ralph – Lenten Reflection – Sheffield Catholic Cathedral.
As I write this short reflection, the season of Lent is just three days away and I have a confession to make: Lent is not a season in the Church I look forward to. However, I am comforted by the thought that few people do!
My struggle with Lent, I guess, is that I still hold on to the childhood notion that Lent is all about ‘giving up’ or ‘doing without’. The truth is that none of us like the idea of denying or depriving ourselves of something we like and can legitimately enjoy, even if we may believe that it has a value of its own and can be a help to others.
A few years ago, I came across an insight on Lent by the American writer and pastor, William A Ward that turns the idea of the Lenten fast on its head. I have found it helpful and I share it with you. Ward says that Lent is not so much about giving up or fasting as feasting on good habits.
So he says, we should:
Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; Feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.
I pray that the season of Lent will be for all of us, both a time of fasting and feasting that will help us become more spiritually alive and share more fully in the joys of Easter.