Lent and the 5:2 programme
Two people I know have taken up the 5:2 eating programme. In this one rigorously restricts one’s food intake on two non-consecutive days of the week and eats normally on the other five. This reminded me strongly of some of the traditional religious fasts of Lent. These two people are doing well on this programme. They look healthy and find they can maintain a good weight. But there can be other benefits. My sister speaks of having a clearer mind for her work and finds that she prays better. Both speak of having to find personal disciplines to deal with the compulsion to eat.
And there we find the other similarity with Lent. In this season which begins this week, we are encouraged to face up to the compulsions that enslave us. We so easily become slaves to habit, slaves to impulses, slaves to greed. To deal with them, we have to really deprive ourselves, feel the need and face down the hunger. We have to discover how weak we are, that the grace of God can become strong within us.
And it doesn’t just stop with us. Lent is about others. When we refrain from something, we are meant to give it away to another. The money saved by fasting is to go to the poor. The time saved from TV watching could be spent ringing an elderly relative. The time not spent on internet games could be spent playing games with the kids. Think about it: the 5:2 programme could be applied to a number of the bad habits that undermine our lives.
Loving God, show me the habits that are undermining my life and stopping me from loving my family and friends as well as I could. In this Lent, give me the grace to creatively face my weakness and transform it into strength. I ask this in Jesus’ name, confident that you will hear me.
Sr Kym Harris osb