Giving God your heart, your appetite, and your talents
During Lent, we're called as Christians to practice prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Mostly we understand why we take on these disciplines. The benefits of prayer are obvious, as are the benefits of almsgiving: giving resources of time and money to the poor and to our communities. The benefits of fasting can be a little harder to understand, but mostly we understand that fasting helps us to develop discipline, participate in the experience of the poor and hungry, and remind ourselves that even though earthly things are good, God is goodness itself.
Ultimately though, prayer, fasting and almsgiving are about giving everything over to God. Our faith in God requires us to give our lives to God, but so often we fall short of that. We give God parts of ourselves. We give God our Sundays, or our prayer time through the week. In order to let God into the nooks and crannies of our lives, we have to give all of that over to God.
Prayer - Giving God Your Heart
We're called to deepen our prayer lives in Lent. Perhaps we take on daily Mass, morning and evening prayers, or a daily Rosary. Perhaps we make a greater effort to interrupt ourselves throughout the day with quick moments of prayer. What we're doing as we deepen our prayer lives is taking opportunities to turn our hearts and our thoughts over to God. We're acknowledging that God is entitled to more of our inner selves. Giving God ourselves includes giving Him our emotions, our fleeting thoughts, and ultimately our longings. Giving God these things will purify them.
Fasting - Giving God Your Appetite
As human beings, we're in part driven by our appetites. Our appetites sometimes serve to help us survive, and our appetites sometimes help us to simply feel good. It's not a sin to enjoy earthly things, but when we forget where those things come from and we become driven by the pleasure they give us, we need to take a step back. It sounds weird, but our appetite should be for God. We can find God in all those earthly pleasures, but not if we're not looking for God there. If we limit our appetites to temporary, fleeting earthly pleasures, we're missing out big time. By fasting, we reorient our appetites toward God. We can reapproach earthly pleasures intentionally and enjoy them as gifts from God.
Almsgiving - Giving God Your Talents
The third practice we're called to during Lent is almsgiving, which is the practice of giving resources of money, time and abilities to the poor and to our communities. The word talent has a couple of different meanings. In the ancient world, it was a unit of measure for currency. Today, talent means "gift or skill". Considering both definitions, talents are everything we have to show for ourselves. They are the fruits of our labor, and they are our capacity to produce more of those fruits. When we dedicate those things to God, we reorient the purpose of our work. Instead of using our time and money for our own glory, we're using it for God's. Almsgiving benefits our community, but it also changes the way we work and live.