Lenten Fasting or Feasting?
By: Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D
Is Lent about fasting or feasting? Maybe the two are related, says this commentary on the story of the barren fig tree from the gospel of Luke chapter 13. Prayer. Fasting. Almsgiving. Three inter-related fertilizers for Roman Catholics and all Christians which help barren fig trees bear fruit.
Some think Lent is a time for fasting. I see it as a time of feasting.
I come to this conclusion based on the story of the fig tree in Luke 13. Three years without bearing fruit. What could be the problem? The owner figures that it is simply a dud and wants to cut it down. The vinedresser, a little more in touch with nature, comes to a different conclusion. Maybe all that is needed to turn things around is a bit of fertilizer.
As we look at Christians in America, we have to be honest. A full 82% of us say we are Christians. So where’s the fruit? We’re certainly feeding ourselves often enough, with about 67% of us overweight. Obviously what we’re consuming is not quite the right nourishment to produce the desired results.
So Lent is a time to examine our diet and make some changes. First, let’s cut the junk food from the diet so we are not so bloated. It could be the chips, fries, burgers, and cokes that drain our pocketbooks and make us lethargic. Or it could be too many hours of radio, TV, and the web which fill our heads with so much noise that we can’t sit still, quiet down and listen to God. Let’s turn it all off for a while.
Yes, this is fasting. But the goal is to save our appetite so that we can feast on other things such as the Word of God. When’s the last time you sat down and read an entire book of the bible, from start to finish? (If not all in one sitting, over the course of a few days). Exodus makes for a good Lenten read, since I Cor 10 tells us that Israel’s odyssey was for our sake, to provide an example. When was the last time you identified a short, poignant Bible text and memorized it, repeating it daily, even several times a day, meditating on it, applying it to various aspects of your life?
How about the Eucharist, the greatest nourishment of all? Lent is a great time to go more often, even daily. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass is like stimulating the appetite before the meal (aperitif) or taking time to digest it afterwards (digestif). Either way, adoration helps us derive more benefit from our Eucharistic feast.
Then there is the time we devote to entertainment. Could we not redirect some of those hours to entertainment that nourishes our spiritual life? Mel Gibson’s film on the Lord’s passion was released on Ash Wednesday, 2004 for a reason. It is offered as a Lenten meditation to help us understand the shocking consequences of sin and the astounding Love that lays down his life for his friends. Get some folks together and watch this powerful film on DVD. If you fear the violence of The Passion of the Christ would be too much for you, rent Franco Zeffirili's "Jesus of Nazareth" and watch it with family and friends. If you prefer books, read the life of a saint or the provocative religious fiction of an author such as C.S. Lewis.
Finally, one of the most spiritually nourishing and energizing experiences of all is giving of ourselves. We call it almsgiving. It is in giving that we receive, says the Prayer of St. Francis. If we save money from fasting, let’s give it away. There are the corporal works of mercy such as feeding the hungry. Then there are the spiritual works of mercy, such as feeding the spiritually hungry, the millions of inactive and nominal Christians and unchurched people that starve to death for lack of the Word of God. Soup kitchens and evangelization ministries both need our support.
Prayer. Fasting. Almsgiving. Three inter-related fertilizers to help the barren fig tree bear fruit. But keep in mind the owner's directive– fertilize it for a year, and if we see no results, fetch the axe. So no more excuses. No more procrastinating. Let’s vow to make this Lent count. There may not be another.
For Spanish, Click Here!
Follow Us -
Join us on Facebook
Join us on Twitter
Be a part of the “new springtime” of evangelization! Your tax-deductible gift helps us use TV, radio, and the web to proclaim the message without compromise but in language even the young can understand. Click here to donate now.
To download and print Lenten Fasting or Feasting? - Click Here!
For more Catholic resources to feed your faith, visit the Crossroads Initiative Homepage.
To sign up for our free weekly e-mail with Dr. D'Ambrosio's commentary on the Sunday readings, liturgical feasts, updates on where Dr. D will be speaking, a chance to WIN a FREE CD and MORE, CLICK HERE!
This article was originally printed in Our Sunday Visitor as a reflection on the 3rd Sunday of Lent, Cycle C and is reprinted here with permission.
For more Lenten Resources please visit the Library Page or 40 Ways to Get More Out of Lent.
This article is featured in the Prayer & Spirituality, Easter Season, and the Lent & Holy Week sections of The Crossroads Initiative Library.
To read about the Orginal Meaning of Lent, CLICK HERE!
I Believe - The Heart of Catholic Faith
First given as a Lenten retreat, this is an awesome 4 session program to revitalize your faith and prepare you for the joy of Easter. Great for individuals or families or small groups. The workbook is a treasure of discussion questions, devotions and spiritual exercises that can serve as an easy-to-follow roadmap through the Lent or Holy Week that will break you out of stale patterns and enrich both your prayer and your understanding of the central truths of the Catholic faith, empowering you to share that faith with others.
The Handbook for Catholic Moms
Drawing from the deep tradition of the Catholic faith, Lisa Hendey coaches Catholic moms in how to care for themselves—heart, mind, body, and soul—so that they can better love and care for their families, their neighbors, and their Church.
The Passion - (CD) The Meaning of the Movie - Dr. Marcellino D'AmbrosioWhat is The Passion about? Why did Mel Gibson release the movie on Ash Wednesday? The Passion - The Meaning of the Movie, a 45 minute talk will answer these and many questions.
Praying Scripture for a Change - Dr. Tim Gray (Book and Workbook)
In this succinct book, Catholic theologian and biblical scholar Dr. Tim Gray walks the reader through the Bible and the wisdom of the saints to reveal the practical steps of this great treasure of our Tradition. Learning the simple steps of lectio divina will provide a practical and effective way for you to enhance your prayer life through the power of God’s Word.
SUGAR FREE - Winrgy
Winrgy is an invigorating, citrus-flavored energy and mental performance drink loaded with vitamins, minerals and amino acids that will help you stay energized and focused so you can work, play and perform at your best.
This Winrgy includes Food for Thought right in the mix!
BioLean® of the BioLean® Weight Management System - free-shipping
Ephedra-free BioLean®, of the BioLean® Weight Management System, is an excellent natural choice to help jump-start your healthy lifestyle. The great thing about BioLean® is that is can help reduce body fat even while promoting the development of lean muscle mass --the only path to long-term, healthy weight loss.