Saying “No” to Good Things (Part 2)
Justin: Last week, Sara and I discussed our need to say “no” to good things in order to be able to say “yes” to even better things.
Sara: God sure has a sense of humor! This past week, Gus has been extremely uncomfortable because he is teething and will only sleep if he is held. The best thing I can do for him is hold him while he gets some rest. Our nursing armchair certainly wasn’t designed to provide me with quality sleep!
Justin: Just as we make sacrifices for the good of Gus, we also make sacrifices in order to improve our relationship with God.
Sara: Many older Catholics can recall fasting from meat on Fridays not just during Lent, but throughout the year. Most of us realize that in the United States we are no longer required to fast from meat on Fridays throughout the entire year. However, not so long ago I learned that our Church does ask us to make a sacrifice each Friday in memory of the death of our Lord.
Justin: Oftentimes fasting seems like an outdated custom. After all, the comforts of modern life are a blessing. I certainly do not want to give up air conditioning, electricity, hot showers, or the internet.
Sara: Some weeks, I even question why we have to make a sacrifice on Fridays, since eating meat, listening to the radio, and connecting with friends on Facebook are all good things.
However, as we finished writing last week’s blog, Justin reminded me that fasting and sacrificing comforts is saying “no” to a good thing so we can say “yes” to an even better thing – continued growth in our relationship with God and a closer union to the redemptive suffering and death of the Lord.
Justin: The small sufferings we experience while fasting unite us to the suffering Christ experienced on the cross. In this way our actions become very powerful.
This year, during The Year of Faith, our Bishops have asked that we offer our Friday acts of sacrifice and penance for the protection of life, marriage, and religious liberty. (Visit www.usccb.org/pray and www.usccb.org/fast to learn more and to sign the fasting pledge.)
Sara: Each week, Justin and I set our personal fasts. Sometimes we choose to give up the same things, and other weeks we each choose something different. As our family circumstances have changed, we’ve evolved from making meat our typical sacrifice to choosing other things, such as not drinking a soda or giving up Facebook for the day. Perhaps we’ve just gone soft, but it’s a lot easier to make meals that Gus will like and many of those include meat.
Justin: The sacrifice does not have to be large, but we are asked to make at least some small act of penance. Often my acts are quite small. Sometimes I give up radio in the car or reading about my favorite sports team online. However, each time I choose an act, I try to choose something which will make me more aware of God’s presence or allow me to more fully engage others throughout the day. For example, silence in the car provides an extra 10 minutes in which I can remember the presence of God. Likewise, giving up reading about my team allows me to be more fully present to Sara and Gus for an extra half hour in the evening.
Sara: It’s amazing how a small sacrifice, like giving up a soda, can seem like a huge burden. However, I must often make even bigger sacrifices for Gus, such as sleeping in a chair all night. The discipline I gain from fasting makes the sacrifices of my daily life easier. It makes it easier to say “yes” to what God is asking me.
In both cases, I am giving up something good in order to say yes to something even better – a chance to better love and serve God.