Lent is a time for spiritual renewal, a season of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. We quiet ourselves and our wants and desires in order to amplify God.
Fasting, or abstinence from something, marks this liturgical season in a notable way.
We fast to remind ourselves of how much we depend on God.
So often we fill our lives with distractions, comforts, cushions, and escapes — Lent is a time to do away with all of that and focus directly on God.
As Venerable Fulton Sheen said, “Lenten practices of giving up pleasures are good reminders that the purpose of life is not pleasure. The purpose of life is to attain to perfect life...in pursuing that goal we find happiness.”
In this article I’ve included ideas for what to fast from during Lent, in case you haven’t chosen yet or are looking for more inspiration! Before pursuing any of these, take time to consider the attachments or “strongholds” you bear in your heart. These ideas are certainly not one-size-fits-all. Make sure that whatever you choose is challenging to you and also relevant to your own walk with God.
May whatever we fast from this Lent increase the Lord’s presence in our life!
Social media is one of the biggest and most prevalent forms of distraction in our lives. It’s incredible to think about how many hours it's managed to steal from things such as family time, small interactions, prayer life, and self-discipline. With a click of a button, social media provides an accessible “escape” from our reality: a tool that prevents us from addressing the things our soul really needs. Silence the constant notification buzz or urge to scroll incessantly. This Lent, leave room for God!
Your go-to music or playlist
If you’re used to blaring music as you work, clean, or do other tasks, consider taking a break from the jam sessions and remaining in silence. Or switching out your usual playlist with praise and worship music instead. Allow these moments to become spaces to encounter God instead of your favourite artist’s new chart-topper.
Online shopping is a comfort that a lot of us have known during this pandemic. When we’re bored or craving some sort of change, it’s been one of the easiest things to do. What’s worse, it's usually for things that are unnecessary or simply “vanities”. This Lent, abstain from buying that new shirt, pair of shoes, or must-have tech accessory. Think of other things to do with your newfound time and money (cough, cough, almsgiving).
Any drinks that aren’t water
In reality, you don’t need milkshakes, iced tea, or orange juice to survive. Consider giving up on any beverages that are not good ol’ water. Often these drinks can be our go-to during the day, but this Lenten season, refrain from turning to these beverages when feeling stressed or looking for a dose of sugar.
Staying up late
This one is super tough if you’re a night owl (like me)! But in reality, staying up late, oftentimes, isn’t really conducive to anything. Perhaps endless YouTube videos or phone scrolling. Even worse, it can leave you feeling tired in the morning and take away from your roles to fulfill during the day! Fill your night routine with self-discipline to leave room (and energy) for the things of God!
OR if you’re going to stay up late, let it be for prayer only!
That “one” relationship
This is a very challenging one to write on and involves a lot of personal discernment. Though perhaps someone can relate. Is there a friendship in your life that consistently pulls you away from the Lord? Perhaps through gossip, mischief, or the things you talk about? Do you turn to this person because it's comfortable or an entertaining distraction? Consider taking your spiritual space this Lent (whether they know it or not) and re-evaluating the relationship you share. As always, pray for this individual and aspire to turn a new leaf in some way.
Giving up your car is definitely weather- and location-dependent (and health-dependent, too), but consider walking or biking the next time you need to go somewhere nearby. Perhaps you don’t need your car to go to the bank, park, or convenience store? Or to visit a friend just a few blocks away? As you walk, maybe pray the rosary or think of those who need to walk long distances for basic necessities.
Sometimes mess is comfortable — throw a dish here, an old sock there, no big deal. It seems trivial, but something that always impacts me is that convents and monasteries don’t have mess! There must be something holy, or conducive to holiness, in cleanliness. Challenge yourself to keep your living spaces, or a particular space, neat and tidy for the 40 days of Lent.
Yes, I’m talking about Netflix. And Hulu. And HBO Max. Instead of endlessly binging TV shows and movies, turn these off and dedicate the time to prayer or study instead! And, if you’re anything like me, this fast would free up A LOT of time and distraction in your daily life!