The other members of the body also need to fast: our eyes from seeing evil, our ears from hearing evil, our limbs from participating in anything that is not Godly. Most important of all, we need to control our thoughts, for thoughts are the source of our actions, whether good or evil. Fasting is not an end in itself. Our goal is an inner change of heart. The Lenten Fast is calls for actions of self-denial and spiritual training which are central to fasting. Fasting is a spiritual exercise. It is not imposed or forced upon us. In the same way that true repentance cannot be forced upon anyone, each of us makes the choice to turn away from our sinful ways and go toward our loving, for giving Father in Heaven.
The element of prayer is a silent element of Lenten preparation. A rough definition of prayer is “a conversation with God.” If the purpose of Lent is to draw closer to God, then talking to Him more often is an excellent way to establish a greater relationship with Him. Oftentimes, we find ourselves just drifting through life with no direction. Monday through Saturday we are overwhelmed with work, school, and friends. Our busy schedules rarely allow us any time to think, let alone pray. God may only appear once out of the entire week, on Sunday morning when we are half-asleep and exhausted from Saturday night’s excursions. Lent offers more opportunities for us to break from this monotonous routine, by attending Lenten services during the week and increasing our own personal prayer. By taking five or ten more minutes out of our day to pray, we are refocusing our lives five or ten minutes more on things concerning God, instead of the world.
The last element of Lent is almsgiving. Like fasting, almsgiving is another way that we discipline ourselves. We are called to move away from temptations and distractions that lead us to sin. Money is one of the greatest distractions we know. “For if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” (Matthew 5:30) Also when we are charitable and are selfless in our giving to help our brothers and sisters who are in need, we come a little bit closer to understanding the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for our sins.
May this Lenten season be blessed and filled with joy.
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