Think Outside the Fast

Lenten Suggestions for Preparing for Easter

The season of Lent is upon us and there is no better time than now to take a personal inventory of the attitudes, habits and things which weigh us down and create distance between us and God. Lent is a time for renewal; renewal of ourselves and our relationship with God. University of St. Francis (USF) Chaplain Fr. Terry Deffenbaugh has some suggestions on how to spend the next 40 days in preparation for Easter Sunday.

While “fasting” does mean to abstain from food or drink for a period of time, it can also mean that we abstain from a negative behavior.

“Fasting can be understood positively,” says Deffenbaugh. “It does not always have to be about giving something up. It can also be about taking up a positive activity, behavior or attitude that improves us personally.”

Suggestions Deffenbaugh has discussed with USF students include making an effort to eat healthier, volunteering, getting to know someone new or spending less time on your phone.

“All of these are great suggestions because they lead to the improvement of yourself and others, which is in the spirit of Lent,” he says.

On the flip side, if you are committed to giving something up during Lent, consider making it something that is dropped permanently.

“Giving up an unhealthy habit for a period of time and picking it right back up again does not teach us anything except to long for the habit,” says Deffenbaugh. “Instead, use this time to remove the habit and then never pick it up again and be better off without it.”

So take a few moments to reflect on yourself and how you can improve. Would you be better off with fewer sugary drinks in your diet? Is there room to welcome someone new at the lunch table? Making a few adjustments can open our lives to a host of positive experiences. In turn, these changes can open space in our hearts for a closer relationship to God, just in time for Easter Sunday.

[February 21, 2018]