Lent – a season where it’s common practice for Catholics to ask each other ‘What are you giving up for Lent?’ Okay. So I’m half-serious. But that’s the kind of idea of we had of Lent growing up. A time of ‘giving up’.

While I understand the value of fasting and moderation, I’ve never fully agreed with the need to ‘give up something’ for Lent.

A few years back, the Catholic Church in India suggested that rather than abstaining from meat and fasting, people should abstain from other things. For example, abstain from watching television and instead spend more time with family.

Pope Francis, who is already a kind of hero for me, by his outspokeness and ability to talk hard and bring up issues within the Church, has very strong views on what Lent should really be. In his Lenten message to the Church he urges that instead of abstaining from food or drink, we should fast from indifference.

He says: “Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.”

Describing what he calls the ‘globalization of indifference’ he writes, “whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.” He continues that, “We end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.”

A very strong message and one that can apply all year around and to every one of us.

inspirational quotes during lent

Inspirational Quotes During Lent

“As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus’ thirst…’Repent and believe’ Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our indifference, our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor – He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.”
– Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things. But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist.”
– Pope St. Gregory the Great

“Everything in life has its own time. There is time to celebrate and there is time to mourn. This is the time for reflection and transformation. Let us look within and change into what we ought to be.”
– Aaron Saul

During these 40 days, let me put away all my pride. Let me change my heart and give up all that is not good within me. Let me love God with all that I am and all that I have.”
– Genesis Grain

“Remember that lent and ash Wednesday is not just about putting away the bad things. It is about creating good things and helping the poor and the needy, being kind to people and much more.”
– Jacob Winters

“It is not just about giving up our favorite food but its about going further and giving up things like hatred and unforgiveness. You need to clean your heart and prepare yourself for purity.”
– Amanda Jobs

“The Lord measures out perfection neither by the multitude nor the magnitude of our deeds, but by the manner in which we perform them.”
– St. John of the Cross

“We all suffer for each other, and gain by each other’s suffering; for man never stands alone here, though he will stand alone hereafter; but here is he is a social being, and goes forward to his long home as one of a large company.”
– Cardinal John Henry Newman

More Lenten Quotes from Pope Francis

“Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy.”

“Fasting makes sense if it really chips away at our security and, as a consequence, benefits someone else, if it helps us cultivate the style of the good Samaritan, who bent down to his brother in need and took care of him.”

“Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is good… Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.”

“A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.”

“Wretched are those who are vindictive and spiteful.”

“We must always walk in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, always trying to live in an irreprehensible way.”

“We all have the duty to do good.”

Do you believe in Lent? What practices do you follow? Does your religion talk of the value of fasting? What do you think about fasting from indifference?

Share your views. I’d love to hear them.

PS: Do read this post from  Robyn of Essence of Family – Changing Your Life’s Focus: 40 Day Lenten Challenge