What Form of Fasting Will YOU Do This Lent?

We have entered the season of Lent, this season of prayer, fasting, and works of mercy.  While scrolling online earlier this month, I came across an article entitled “25 Weird Things to Give Up for Lent” by Colin MacIver.  Naturally, I had to read the article, and I thought it was both interesting and provocative.  I’m not sure if his suggestions were truly weird, but many were certainly “out of the box.”  If you’d like, you can find the whole article online, but allow me to share some of the article with you, in case you’re still looking for something to do this Lent…    

Fasting is withholding something good, for a time, so that we can depend more fully on God. Eventually a fast is broken, and the thing we have fasted from can help us to rejoice in God’s glory when it is reintroduced into our lives. That first bit of chocolate on Easter morning, or something like that, is all the sweeter.  Before we list some creative ideas let’s ask this question: Why fast in the first place? Here are seven reasons:

  1. Fasting offers spiritual sacrifice in solidarity with Jesus himself (Matthew 4:1-11).
  2. It can help us grow in discipline and therefore virtue.
  3. Fasting brings us into solidarity with the poor.
  4. It helps us to subordinate created goods to the Creator. 
  5. Along with almsgiving and prayer, fasting trains us to be self-gift (love).
  6. Fasting, along with prayer, is a powerful mode of penance and supplication.
  7. When we fail at it, fasting reminds us that we are in need of redemption.

So with all that in mind, what should we fast from? Once we understand why we fast we can get pretty creative. What could I give up that would help me attain the goals above?  I asked friends, family, and colleagues what some of their most quirky and creative fasts were and received some interesting answers. So here are twenty-five ideas…

1. Target:  Actually, quite a few people mentioned this one. I think it’s because Target is a happy place for many. The aesthetic, the layout, the whole vibe. A few people mentioned that they banished themselves to other stores until Easter.                                                                                                                                       
2. Hot Showers:  Not for the faint of heart, this is a form of mortification that is sure to wake you the heck up.                                                                                                                                    
3. Coffee:  When I tried this one Lent my spiritual director reminded me that my penance wasn’t supposed to cause suffering for others. Still, it might work for you. 
4. Cream and sugar:  So maybe giving up coffee sounds like a bit much, but what about drinking it black?
5. Condiments:   Say goodbye to ketchup, mustard, mayo, hot sauce, salt, pepper. This can simplify meals and be a powerful reminder in the spirit of fasting. 
6. Car audio:  I was surprised by how difficult it was and also surprised at how it drew me into prayer when driving alone, and into meaningful conversation while traveling with passengers.                                                                                                                            
7. Social Media:  Yup. You’ve thought about it and it isn’t a bad idea at all. You could go cold turkey, simply delete apps from your phone, or even give up specific platforms.                                                                                                                       
8. Netflix:  Free up some time for prayer or even try out one of the new reading platforms called … books.                                                                                                                                             
9. Diet Coke:  I don’t get this, but an overwhelming number of people confess to being Diet Coke addicts and said that they gave it up during Lent. 
10. The Snooze Button:  You’d be surprised by how much you can actually get done in those groggy first minutes of the day. Give it a try.               

So, what form of fasting can you do this Lent?  What will help you grow in holiness and humility?  Next week… the final 15 suggestions!                                                                                                                     


Fr. John R. Vien, Pastor