We are now over halfway through Lent, right in the midseason slump—past the novelty of our Lenten resolutions but still a ways away from Easter. It feels sometimes like we have to push ourselves to get through these last few weeks. But in reality, we are called not to simply “muscle through” our discomfort in this moment; rather, we are called to use this as an opportunity for a deeper relationship with God. We are asked to dwell in our discomfort, to allow ourselves to actually feel it, and to be attentive to what it shows us about God and about ourselves.
The purpose of fasting is not to prove our endurance; it is to awaken our desire for God, to develop an awareness of our hunger for Him. The disciples did not fast when Jesus was with them because they were already in the presence of the One who fulfilled the deepest longings in their hearts.
We are feeling the strain, now, of going without our chosen distractions. The things we normally use to numb ourselves from pain are no longer there, and so we are forced to entrust ourselves entirely to God’s care. We take a leap of faith that He will show up to fill the void, and in doing so we open our senses to perceive Him.
If you feel like you’re failing at Lent, maybe that’s the point. In recognizing our weakness, we learn how to depend on God. In these last few weeks of Lent, He wants to meet us in the desert. Rather than trying to push ourselves through the rest of the journey, let us call out for God and ask Him to carry us the rest of the way.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
Many are the troubles of the just man,
but out of them all the LORD delivers him.
He watches over all his bones;
not one of them shall be broken.
The LORD redeems the lives of his servants;
no one incurs guilt who takes refuge in him.
—Psalm 34:19–21, 23
Image: Elihu Vedder, Prayer for Death in the Desert / PD-US
One thought on “Frassati Reflection: Mid-Lenten Lethargy”
Fasting is also meant to “earn graces” for ourselves and others. Think of the difference there would be if many priests periodically reminded all that we should all be voluntarily sacrificing our good wants for the purpose of gaining graces for others who need those graces to control their wants for good and not so good things. Of course, priests who are way over weight would have difficulty giving a sermon on voluntarily saying no to our good wants when they appear to not be able to say no to the desire for food. .Think if priests all demonstrated self discipline of their own bodies to earn graces for others, by loosing the poundage that many have acquired. Then their voices would have real weight when they taught how married were sometimes called to self denial of good wants to earn graces for others.