This, *This* Is Your Lenten Fast

Lent is here and it's time to get serious about prayer, fasting and almsgiving. But what the heck does that even mean?

If you haven’t already heard it, brace yourself.

“So, what are YOU giving up for Lent?”

I guess it’s time to give up Dr Pepper and Facebook, right?

Maybe, but hear me out.

There are plenty of well-meaning blog posts and folks sharing what they’re giving up for Lent – 40 bags for 40 days, a social media fast, television, fried foods, excessive spending – and the list goes on. Been there, done that.

As a wise priest recently shared, “Sometimes the things we ‘give up’ for Lent actually become a barrier between us and our relationship with God.”

In other words, it’s the easy way out. We give something up to make ourselves feel better, like we’re “doing Lent.” We fear giving up the big stuff because we fear vulnerability. It becomes our crutch. We fear giving up things that bring us closer to God because we might actually have to change.

We’ll be transformed.

Oooooouch. Reality bites, doesn’t it?

I think most of us publicly share our Lenten promises of prayer, fasting and almsgiving for accountability. We need our communities to keep us on task. When the wheels start to fall off as we hit the final weeks of Lent, those people can be our biggest cheerleaders as we amble our way toward Holy Week, the Triduum and Easter. And, I think that’s good.

But, truly, if our Lenten promises are transformative, we won’t have to shout to the world what we gave up because at the end of 40 days people will know. They’ll see the change. More importantly, we’ll be changed, and our Beloved will rejoice.

There is no award for “best Lenten sacrifice.” If there was, I’m pretty sure you’d find it on Pinterest.

When a girlfriend changes her diet and institutes an exercise program, we notice. When a co-worker has a job he loves, we notice. When a parent loves her child, we notice. When a family is grieving and a community reaches out, we notice. When people love Jesus and their actions and words make His teachings come to life, we notice.

Rather than telling yourself, “Oh, Lent is coming, time to give up sweets and Dr Pepper,” let’s do something different instead.

Dig deep. Start with what you take to the confessional every time. Or, if you haven’t been in a while (hey, no judgment) start with something that takes your time away from God. Start with the thing that’s your barrier – maybe it’s social media, your attitude, the crap in your house or the junk in your heart.

Let’s start this Lent with, “Here I am Lord, transform me,” and let the world be inspired to know God deeper through our example.

Forty days are here, y’all. Make ’em count.


  1. Amanda on February 28, 2017 at 8:57 am

    Knocked it out of the park again with this one Kathryn! 🙂 Just the sort of encouragement to dig deeper that I needed. I particularly love the idea of focusing on those persistent sins that we keep needing to bring up in the confessional, that’s a good concrete place to start!

  2. Aileen on February 28, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Oh, this was so inspiring!! Thank you so much for this post. I hadn’t thought of Lent in this way. Food for thought. 🙂

  3. Candy Hartmann on February 28, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    This is just what I needed to hear! Thanks so much!

  4. Sharon Rhea Ford on February 28, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    I love every post you write (and by the way, Gianna looks just like her Mom, don’t you think? In the 3rd photo of your last post, look at those beautiful and determined eyes also!)).

    You’ve heard from me before about the risky spine operation I was supposed to have at the Cleveland Clinic, but am scared since I’m alone, and things keep getting in the way …. lost my parents who were my world .. one house flooded …. spine was severely injured …. had to leave my job (lost 3 incomes) … fighting insurance …. another house hit by the hurricane (and the rental agency dropped me after renting our house through them for 43 years) …. no life insurance to handle either house, and now, I have a serious deep vflap leg wound …. and so much more all in 4+ years: not one good day, no bdays, no holidays, home became empty walls … etc. now, AND I am 3 inches shorter and 30 pounds heavier due to the spine after being an exercise fanatic.

    My beautiful loving world just ended 10/22/2012 … 3 days before my 60th (but I looked and felt 40 at the most).

    Not ever dealing with anything alone, it has been horrid and really difficult daily, but I have faith and hope (even though I can’t go to mass still for crying w/o Daddy), and I keep trying even though I feel jinxed weekly with another disaster Daddy would have fixed (and having Mother by my side, I had strength also).

    It wouldn’t kill me to give up some form of food for Lent due to the spine situation; yet, you have made me think about something that never dawned on me even though I do believe God “has the plan”, etc.: I am going to give up FEAR. As of today, I am simply not going to be afraid and trust that all will work out if I keep trying.

    • Aileen on February 28, 2017 at 4:32 pm

      Praying so hard for you, Sharon. God bless! He will be your strength now.

    • Kathryn on February 28, 2017 at 4:36 pm

      Sharon, that is a mighty cross. Thank you for being brave enough to share here, so we can pray for you.

  5. Sharon Rhea Ford on February 28, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    I won’t use up any more of your space on this; yet, please let me say from a broken heart that once was overflowing with love and positivity … (trying so hard to mend though) that prayers mean more to me than anything else …. sincerely! Thank you.

  6. Lis on February 28, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    Beautiful and true, Kathryn! I loved when you said that when someone loves his job… you can tell. And when someone abandons herself to God… you can tell. That’s what Lent is supposed to be all about… not giving up chocolate! 🙂

  7. Christine on February 28, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    This may be my favorite Team Whitaker post yet!! Here I am Lord Transform me!

  8. […] narrowing down what I should give up or do for Lent but I was reading Kathryn’s blog post This, *This* Is Your Lenten Fast and her words kicked me in the arse. She […]

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