Lent is a time of fasting. But it can also be more: Lent can be a time of feasting — on positive spiritual improvements. Sacrifices aren’t the only penances. You can do more positive penances, such as working to stop bad habits, faults, or sins. You can also add devotions — for instance, praying more, going to daily Mass, and practicing virtues. Traditionally these go together; to give up a vice, we replace it with the opposite virtue. Think about it as fasting from not-so-good things in order to feast on great things. This prayer service for the beginning of Lent helps students reflect on this fasting/feasting theme and make resolutions around it.
Pro tip: Talk about the different types of penances the week before and encourage your students to give this serious thought. They should ask themselves: How can I use this Lent to become a better person and get closer to God?
Leader: Heavenly Father, as we enter this Lenten season, help us to fast from those things that keep us far from you and feast on the things that draw us closer to you. Grant, we pray, that our penances will purify us to receive the power of Christ’s resurrection at Easter.
“Come Alive (Dry Bones)” by Lauren Daigle: see CATmag.us/2KXfTVc
“Lead Me to the Cross” by Hillsong United: see CATmag.us/2RCYIKP
“Forgiven” by David Crowder: see CATmag.us/2BSw573
Reading Colossians 3:1-2
Psalm Psalm 51:1-2, 3-4, 10-12, 16-17
Antiphon: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Litany of Lenten fasting and feasting
(Leader reads the first part; all others respond with the phrase in italics.)
To fast from judging others and feast on what makes them special, Lord help us.
To fast from unkind words and feast on kindness, Lord help us.
To fast from jealousy and feast on offering compliments, Lord help us.
To fast from getting angry and feast on being patient, Lord help us.
To fast from worry and feast on trusting God, Lord help us.
To fast from complaining and feast on gratitude, Lord help us.
To fast from negative thoughts and feast on positive ones, Lord help us.
To fast from nastiness and feast on friendliness, Lord help us.
To fast from greed and feast on giving, Lord help us.
To fast from being the center of attention and feast on giving attention to others, Lord help us.
To fast from envy and feast on congratulating, Lord help us.
To fast from conflict and feast on understanding, Lord help us.
To fast from selfishness and feast on helping others, Lord help us.
To fast from doubt and feast on faith, Lord help us.
To fast from holding grudges and feast on forgiveness, Lord help us.
To fast from gloominess and feast on happiness, Lord help us.
To fast from discouragement and feast on hope, Lord help us.
To fast from arguing with my parents and feast on saying yes to my parents, Lord help us.
Have your students spend a few minutes in silence, reflecting on which concrete ideas they could fast from and feast on this Lent. Then give them large index cards with “Fast From” written on one side and “Feast On” written on the other.
The leader says this prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit, inspire us. Help us know what we should fast from and feast on this Lent.” Then invite the students to write down their resolutions. You might provide a sample list they can choose from, such as: fast from making a mess at home/feast on helping to clean, or fast from arguing with siblings/feast on keeping the peace.
If your students are younger, this might be more of a group activity. You may have to coach your older students through this, as well. If the class has a good rapport, have them share their resolutions. Talking about them with others offers a sense of accountability and makes follow through more likely.
Leader: Lord, you give us this solemn Lenten season as a time to purify our lives and come to a deeper understanding of your love. May this time of fasting and feasting rid us of faults and bad habits while helping us to become more like you. Amen.
Marc Cardaronella, MA, is director of the Office of Discipleship and Faith Formation in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. He is author of Keep Your Kids Catholic: Sharing Your Faith and Making It Stick and blogs at MarcCardaronella.com.
This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, March 2019.