A Spiritual Practice for Lent
During Lent, we fast from unwanted beliefs. We feast on Truth.
What are the ways we choose to recognize and “celebrate” Lent?
Lent is a season of preparation for Easter, coinciding with spring, the season of new growth in nature.
Beginning with Ash Wednesday, we count 40 days plus six Sundays until Easter. Easter always occurs on the first Sunday after the paschal full moon, or the first full moon after the vernal equinox.
Lent is considered a season of renewal, but it is also a period of reflection and release. Spiritually, we must face crucifixion before we celebrate resurrection—we must look at the shadow then turn to the light without flinching from either.
We sweep away any thoughts that block our good before we affirm statements of Truth to guide our days.
Release, then renewal.
From a spiritual perspective, however, release and renewal can be called “fasting and feasting.” This idea aligns with the tools of spiritual growth called denials and affirmations.
During Lent we can fast from unwanted beliefs, using “denials.” In balance, we can use affirmations to feast on Truth statements.
This practice can, quite literally, change the way you see the world.
Denials: A Fast from Unwanted Beliefs
Denials help to clear out limiting, self-sabotaging beliefs so that when it’s time to feast on affirmations they can exert their transformative power. It’s tempting to want to go directly to the feast, but affirmations can’t take root in consciousness if they are blocked by limiting thoughts.
Read this denial of doubt, written for Ash Wednesday.
I fast from doubt.
Consider the poignant plea in Mark 9:24: “I believe; help my unbelief!”
What if we were able to see doubt as part of the process of faith, not the opposite of faith? How might this change our approach to doubt?
It is often easier to brush aside doubts and simply declare our faith. Yet there are gifts—nuggets of truth and freedom—to be found in doubt.
In fasting from doubt I can notice and honor my thoughts and feelings and ask myself: What is this about? What I gain from my inquiry into my doubt is infinitely stronger than any blind faith. Whenever doubt weighs me down, I can lovingly and gently go deeper with my doubt.
Is my doubt rooted in fear? Perhaps it is a sense of unworthiness or lack? Maybe a past experience is coloring my perception and causing me to question. I’m not giving in to doubt or turning away from it, but gently excavating to find and release its roots within me. The way out of doubt is through.
I fast from doubt and inquire within: What do I know to be true?
Once you become aware of your limiting beliefs, you can begin to eradicate them by denying they have lasting, enduring truth.
This action robs the limiting belief of its power and cleanses it from your mind. With the limiting belief no longer in mind, it’s time to feast on affirmations.
Affirmations: The Power of Words
Words of affirmation are not wishful thinking or a way to try to get something you don’t have. Rather, affirmations help you deeply realize that everything you could ever need or want is already yours at the level of consciousness. It is this realization that helps you bring forth desired results.
Read this affirmation, written as a partner to the previous denial.
I feast on faith.
When I feast on faith, my mind turns to these beautiful words by James Dillet Freeman in Angels Sing in Me (Unity Books, 2004):
Faith is not so much a matter of the mind as of the heart. Sometimes in seeking to understand God as principle, we lose sight of God as a presence … To have faith is not to theorize about God or even to imagine God, but to experience God …
Faith is a warmth, a feeling of well-being that envelops the body and overflows the mind. Faith brings an inward peace, a tranquil spirit.
Faith is the expectation of the unexpected. Faith is an open and courageous heart …
Faith is the power to see in the disappointment of today the fulfillment of tomorrow, in the end of old hopes the beginning of new life. Faith is the inward power to see beyond the outward signs, the power to know that all is right when everything looks wrong …
Sometimes you may have more faith than you can imagine, and when you need it, you will find it there within you.
I feast on faith. In the face of doubt, fear, or disappointment, I feast on faith.
I open my heart to an experience of presence and inward power and knowing that sustains and energizes my very being. I feast on faith.
It’s the regular, repeated affirmation of words of Truth that is transformative.
Just as you might go to a gym to become physically healthy, so, too, should you use affirmations to change consciousness. If you go to a gym only every once in a while, it’s likely that you won’t grow stronger. Likewise, if you are haphazard with affirmations, it’s unlikely that your thinking will change.
Words have power. Words of Truth repeated in prayerful contemplation and in waking life take root and grow. As your consciousness is infused with Truth, the Truth you know becomes the life you live.
That’s the Truth that sets you free.
Excerpt from the Unity booklet, Fasting and Feasting 2020: A Spiritual Practice for Lent.