On Fasting: A Lenten Reflection
I recently posted this reflection on Facebook and it generated some interest, so I’ve reproduced it here for my readers.
It’s the time of year when many of us are thinking about fasting: here’s my two-cents’ worth.
I don’t place a lot of emphasis on fasting in my home, because when you’re a single mother, you’re fasting every day. We don’t have much money, so my children hear, “No,” a lot more than most. They don’t have many treats, so I don’t like to ask more from them. When I have a special prayer-intention, I’ll fast – but my fast may look different from yours. It’s between God and me, and He seems to think that’s ok, because He often answers my prayers. This isn’t the life I’d have chosen for us, but, that’s ok too, because, as I’ve always taught my children, the best fast is the one that God sends you.
Today is my eldest child’s 30th birthday, but because we’re estranged, I have to fast from making contact with her and my 4 little grandchildren. But that’s ok too, since I chose life for her under difficult circumstances, and that has borne the fruit of these five new lives.
Having said all that, I think there is a fast that every single visitor here could manage – it’s not too hard, perhaps only one hour in the next 40 days or so. Everyone here could get themselves down to their local abortion facility to pray to end abortion; this is a fast from comfortable Christianity and armchair activism.
The ‘Fast’ of Public Witness
This is a great fast. You may, for the first time, feel embarrassed to be a Christian, as you stand there praying. You may have your faith challenged, as you see the steady stream of parents walking in to have their child killed – but you’re absolutely powerless to stop them. You may feel the sting of being seen as an extremist, as you try to live out your radical stance of being a pro-life humanitarian. But don’t worry, none of this lasts.
As you fast from being respectable, or from being honoured for your intellect or wealth, you will find that these aren’t really worth much anyway. They certainly won’t matter much in heaven.
The things that dishonour, obscurity or poverty can’t take away from you will remain: faith, hope and love. These are the fruits of fasting that I’ve found in my family situation, and they are readily available for everyone during 40 Days for Life.