Dear Companions on the Journey,
For this First Sunday of Lent, I steal shamelessly from my Paulist brother Tom Ryan’s list of “Alternative Forms of Fasting.” Tom distributed these at a Twilight Retreat in 2019:
Fast with your eyes: a little less TV, video, and staring at your computer screen or smartphone; a little more introspection and reflection on your life through keeping a journal.
Fast with your ears: listen less to your iPod, radio, CDs; listen more to your own inner heart and spirit. Be keenly attentive to the words of others.
Fast with your mouth: take just one helping. Less processed foods, appreciate simple food and drink water.
Fast with your hands: back off from things that agitate you. Take time to just sit and reflect, to rest and observe.
Fast with your feet: become more attuned to the modern compulsion to be always on the “go.” Offer yourself a daily quiet half-hour of reading that nourishes your spirit. Make more time available to welcome others to your home.
Fast with your body: attach less importance to external fashion and make-up. Reclaim your natural hair and skin color.
Fast from anger, resentment, bitterness: get to the bottom of why you’re angry or resentful. What’s the hidden demand underneath? Pray for the grace to forgive those who have hurt you.
Fast from judging others: unhook from conversations in which others are being disparaged, or contribute something positive to balance the negative things that are being said.
Fast from complaining: when you’re feeling inclined to complain, stop and look at all you are blessed with and give thanks instead.
Fast from glossing over your losses too quickly: allow yourself to feel the emptiness, the ache, the absence. Take the time to do the inner work of grieving; resist the quick but superficial emotional fix, the easy fill.
What do you think?
And let us pray for one another,
Michael McGarry, C.S.P.