“Be who you are meant to be and you will set the world on fire” is one of my favourite quotes from St. Catherine of Sienna. God created each one of us in such a unique way, there has never been, or never will be be another you to walk this earth. The dreams and desires God has put on your heart are there for a reason! He is calling you to a specific mission, to the place where you will be most fully alive, where He is able to work through you to change peoples lives.
He is also calling each one of us to sainthood, and because of this individuality He has created us with, the way God draws each of us to sanctity is specific to us as a person. your pathway to sainthood won’t look like anyone else’s. You’re not going to be another St. Joan of Arc, or another St. Faustina, because the path God has paved for your life is unique to who you are as a person. So be excited, because God has something amazing planned for you.
Lent is such a good time to remind ourselves of this calling, and to try to refocus our lives around Christ, to deepen our relationship with God, and prepare ourselves so that we are able to receive Christ more fully leading into Easter time.
A common practice among Catholics during the time of Lent is to fast. There are multiple ways of fasting, whether it be from certain foods, denying yourself of certain pleasures such as Netflix, Facebook, Youtube, or things which may be good in our lives but not necessary.
But why is this important?? As Pope Benedict XVI said, “The heart of all worship is sacrifice”. By fasting we are sacrificing a legitimate pleasure, out of love for someone else. But there are a lot of good things which can come out of fasting, and here are a few;
By fasting we are able to grow in self mastery. Ultimately what God wants for us is freedom – “the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved” – so that we are freely able to say yes to Him with every part of our life. We struggle to do this because we can become so enslaved by certain things, material, philosophical, emotional. An example of this is being enslaved by our cellphones, by constantly needing to check them and finding it difficult to turn them off and have time away from them. By fasting we are able to practice virtues such as temperance which help us in self-mastery and lead us to that freedom to be able to choose to say yes to God.
Another reason we fast, is to grow in obedience. It states in the Code of Canon Law that “abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday” (Chapter 2 Can. 1251). By Fasting on these days we are being obedient to the Church and recognising her authority.
Discernment, and giving God access to our hearts is another big thing when it comes to fasting. By going without something, we make room for Him in our lives in a new way. An example of this is in the Acts of the Apostles when the apostles would pray and fast prior to ordaining presbyters for apostolic work; “And after they had appointed elders for them in each Church, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe” (Acts 14:23).
Lastly, one of the biggest things when it comes to fasting, is so that we can become co-redeemers with Christ. In Saint Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he says “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christs afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church”. What is lacking in Christs sufferings? Our participation! The way that we can participate is to unite our sufferings (in whatever form) to His sufferings so that we are able to offer it up for the redemption of souls. When we choose to go without food, or deprive ourselves of a certain thing, this gives us an opportunity to “fill up what is lacking in Christs afflictions” and become co-redeemers with Him – what a privilege!
Fasting is something that during Lent I have found quite difficult, and have failed on different occasions. But by reminding myself of the reasons we are called to fast, I am able to pick myself up and continue with God’s grace and mercy to give Him my best, to know that this is a time where I can prepare myself to receive Him in a new way. The call to sainthood is not an easy one, we can’t get to Heaven without the cross, but during Lent we are able to refocus our lives around Christ and be reminded of this calling.