By: Deacon Des Eyden

I saw on the internet that you can buy “Happy Easter” cards online. As I was looking through the range one of the cards caught my attention, the front read “The best part about Easter, is that Lent is over” and on the inside it said: “I really hate giving up stuff I love.”

So many people believe that “giving something up” is what Lent is all about. During the week before Lent as a Christian you are bound to hear the question “What are you giving up for Lent?” more than a few times. And if you ask others you’re likely to hear a list of everyday items: meat, sugar, sweets, smoking, wine, chocolate, or even things like facebook.

Now, if that works for you, go for it. If giving up some sort of indulgence deepens your spiritual walk during these 40 days, then no one should tell you not to do it.

But, if you’re like me and most people I know, giving something up for forty days sometimes feels more like running the Comrades marathon, and it is for this reason that we can perhaps approach Lent with the same dread that we approach the dentist. Then by the time we get to Easter Sunday we can’t wait to tear into a Lunch bar or sign back on to Facebook again. We have a sense that we’ve just finished this marathon, but nothing has really changed.

Again, maybe it’s different for you, and that separation from chocolate, red meat or wine has deepened your spiritual life in a meaningful way. But, if it hasn’t, I want to suggest that maybe “giving up” is not the only way for us to observe Lent.

What if instead of just giving up, we also took something on?

I came upon a reflection by William A. Ward, which I believe helps us to shift the emphasis from “giving up something” to really “doing something positive” during this Holy season.
I am convinced that if Lent moves us from just “giving up” or “fasting” to “feasting on good habits” the transformation will be amazing!

This reflection challenges us to discover the power of positive Christian living.

Feast vs. Fast
• Fast from judging others; Feast on the Christ dwelling in them.
• Fast from emphasis on differences; Feast on the unity of life.
• Fast from apparent darkness; Feast on the reality of light.
• Fast from thoughts of illness; Feast on the healing power of God.
• Fast from words that pollute; Feast on phrases that purify.
• Fast from discontent; Feast on gratitude.
• Fast from anger; Feast on patience.
• Fast from pessimism; Feast on optimism.
• Fast from worry; Feast on divine order.
• Fast from complaining; Feast on appreciation.
• Fast from negatives; Feast on affirmatives.
• Fast from unrelenting pressures; Feast on unceasing prayer.
• Fast from hostility; Feast on non-resistance.
• Fast from bitterness; Feast on forgiveness.
• Fast from self-concern; Feast on compassion for others.
• Fast from personal anxiety; Feast on eternal truth.
• Fast from discouragements; Feast on hope.
• Fast from facts that depress; Feast on truths that uplift.
• Fast from lethargy; Feast on enthusiasm.
• Fast from thoughts that weaken; Feast on promises that inspire.
• Fast from shadows of sorrow; Feast on the sunlight of serenity.
• Fast from idle gossip; Feast on purposeful silence.
• Fast from problems that overwhelm; Feast on prayer that strengthens.

May we this Lent learn to not just “fast” but to also “feast” on all that will help us to become better Christians.


Deacon DesAbout the Author

Deacon Des Eyden

Did my schooling in Durban. Once married moved to Pietermaritzburg, was there for 28 years and was ordained at St Mary’s Parish in Pietermarizburg. Have three adult children and three grand children who all live in Cape Town. Moved to Cape Town 3 years ago where I am the Deacon at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish.