Lenten Fast During a Global Pandemic

Community members hold hands in prayer for Mass of the Holy Spirit.

March 27, 2020
Daniel Dangca, Office of Mission and Ministry

The New Dictionary of Sacramental Worship lists the four reasons for fasting. Using this as a guide, how do we continue to journey through this sacred Lenten season in the midst of COVID-19?:

  1. Preparation for a feast

The glory of Triduum and the Easter Season are quickly approaching and spiritually, we have to prepare ourselves to celebrate this joy no matter what the circumstances of the world may bring us. But with that, there should be an acknowledgment that there will be a day when COVID-19 will be in the history books. A feast is more than a big meal but it’s is a day we honor. The end of this pandemic should be and will be celebrated. In the meantime, how are you preparing for it? Are you open to what God will teach you during this time of uncertainty, isolation and anxiousness? Like preparing for a big celebration, what do you need to gather emotionally and who do you need to invite spiritually so when that first handshake, that first hug, that first physical gathering comes, your truly heart is ready.

  1. Penance and atonement for sins

In regards to the Sacrament of Reconciliation during COVID-19, Pope Francis said “if you can’t go to confession, take your sorrow directly to God.” You are forgiven as much as you are loved by God. As much as you are forgiven by God, take time this extraordinary Lenten season to think of people you have to forgive others who have wronged you. There is joy in being free of grudges. In that process, also make time to wholeheartedly forgive yourself in the times you were too hard on yourself. Forgiveness is a form of spiritual self-care; use it!

  1. Acknowledgment that all we have comes from God

Lent is also a time to give thanks. In this time of caution, distance and fear, know that the Spirit continues to move us in ways that we have yet to fathom. Instead of looking at the day as something to tackle, look at the day as something to unravel. Know that everything set before you each day is a new opportunity to write your story with God. During Lent, find time to recite the Sucipe prayer from St. Ignatius of Loyola: Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, All I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.

  1. Solidarity with those who live in want

A quote that truly speaks to the signs of our times is from Mahatma Gandhi who said that we should “live simply so that others may simply live.” While the world goes into panic over produce, toilet paper, masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, disinfectant spray and cleaning wipes, know that living to survive does not mean allowing others to live scarcely. Lent also gives us an opportunity for us to look into our talents and give our neighbors what they need that do not lie on a store shelf. For some to survive, our brothers and sisters need to fill the scarcity of love in place of loneliness, to fill the scarcity of humor in place of horror and to fill the scarcity of sympathy in place of selfishness.