Hold space for God to work within us

    February 16, 2024

    Here we are again, three days into another Lent. How are your resolutions going? If you’re anything like me, you have a short list of things that are in the running each year to “give up” for Lent. Sodas, chocolate, coffee, or alcohol often top the list. Maybe it’s social media, streaming, or music in the car.

    Giving up any of these things can be a sacrificial offering, but how does the absence of whatever you gave up draw you closer to God? For me, it’s easy to make substitutes – sparkling water for sodas, podcasts instead of music. When Easter arrives, I pat myself on the back for having fulfilled my obligation and pop open an ice-cold Coca Cola, but I’m no different than I was on Ash Wednesday.

    Fasting, even from simple things like sodas or candy, helps us grow in the virtue of temperance so that we can better resist worldly temptations that lead us away from God. I also believe that He asks us to take our fasting a step further.

    This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
    releasing those bound unjustly,
    untying the thongs of the yoke;
    Setting free the oppressed,
    breaking every yoke;
    Sharing your bread with the hungry,
    sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
    Clothing the naked when you see them,
    and not turning your back on your own. (Isaiah 58:6-9a)

    The good news is that we practice this type of fasting every day in our work at Catholic Charities agencies and partner ministries. The challenge is keeping it up when we’re off the clock, when God asks us to cancel our plans to help a neighbor in need, to forego our own new clothes because the kids have outgrown theirs, or to let go of a long-held dream because God is leading us in another direction.

    How do our Lenten sacrifices transform us? Rather than looking for the easy substitute to fulfill our earthly desires, let us hold space for God to work within us, aligning our hearts and wills to his so that we may lead others to him and share in his promise of eternal life.

    Allison Cavazos is the Director of Advancement for Catholic Charities of Central Texas in Austin.

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