PREPARING HIM ROOM IN A CONSUMPTION CRAZED CULTURE
In my world of film work amid a new city with perpetual demands and intrigue, it’s easy to get trapped at the consumption junction of the day-to-day with overdoing: calls, texts, social media, meet ups, networking, blurry work hours, Netflix, movies, the news, red carpets, dinners, lunches, coffees, friends, their friends, this event and that gala, “can you talk?” and blah blah blah. As my mother and yours would probably say, “you don’t have to go to every dance you’re invited to.” Or as the songstress Megan Trainor belts out, “My name is no. My number is no. You need to let it go…Nah to the ah to the no, no no!” Clearly she’s talking about an undeserving man, but you get the vibe (and maybe the man thing applies here too)!
Everything is now a brand (including people – and shame if you are not!) and is coated with shiny slick packaging torpedoed at us with a special sauce to set off our every little sensory antenna, but how can we as people of faith SEE and HEAR God amid the pounding call of so many people, places and things that lure our personal time and attention? How can we know what’s for us (God-sent) and just a distraction (other –sent)? How can we maintain our life rooted in Him and do His will when we are swept away by the more?
This year I started to trim the fat. I started to focus on supercharging my spiritual life and physical life by embarking on a “cleanse” that became an incredible physical renewal and really a spiritual fast of sorts. So not only have I lost 30 inches off my body (yay!), but what I’ve given up in how I’ve transformed my lifestyle has become a self offering back to God. Less is more. Less of what I want making way for more room for Him and His plans for my life.
In the Catholic faith and others (as many of other faiths will read this), fasting is an ancient practice of self-denial that is penitential (penance for sins) and is practiced to make room for God – to accelerate our prayer life. Fasting is not just for Lent or Good Friday or seasonal devotions, but really can and should be part of daily devotional life. By mortifying the flesh (and don’t we all do that at the gym to get cut abs and arms of steel, sometimes daily?) we achieve a quickening of results in our prayer life, especially for those stubborn seemingly impossible cases (like stubborn fat that’s taken up residence way to long).
This year has been transformative to renew this practice of fasting not just on a couple of set days but truly as a way of life to see and hear God more clearly and to take my prayers and my whole being, body, mind and soul as a self-offering to God. In a culture that tells us that we need more – more Facebook friends, more Twitter followers, more outfits (ok, I have not tackled my closet yet), more in the fridge, more on our social schedule, it’s ok to say no. You will be surprised at what and who you make room for. Even if your life is crazed on the red carpet tripping across the states, or doing what you do…you can maintain an inner strength amid the pace that God puts under your feet. It will keep your mind on spiritual things, make you strong and fasten you to God when everything else seems out of control.
The great Saint John Paul II said, “One of the meanings of penitential fasting is to help us recover an interior life. The effort of moderation in food also extends to other things that are not necessary, and this is a great help to the spiritual life. Moderation, recollection and prayer go hand in hand. . . This principle can be appropriately applied to the mass media. Their usefulness is indisputable, but they must not become “masters” of our life. In how many families does television seem to replace personal conversation rather than to facilitate it! A certain fasting also in this area can be healthy, both for devoting more time to reflection and prayer, and fostering human relations.”
And Pope John Paul II goes on to reference the Blessed Mother as a model in this area:
“..Let us learn from the Blessed Virgin. The Gospel tells us that she pondered in her heart the events of her life (Lk 2:19) seeking in them the unfolding of God’s plan. Mary is the model to whom we can all look. Let us ask her to give us the secret of that “spiritual fast” which sets us free from the slavery of things, strengthens the soul, and makes it ever ready to meet the Lord.”
The secret of that spiritual fast – I love that. Mary had a big mission – she was to become the Mother of God. She prepared Him room.
In the same way that physical fitness develops our physical muscles, fasting develops our spiritual muscles so we are fit to discern, fit to obtain challenging results and cleansed of our own will with an interior disposition toward His will and our ability, like the Blessed Mother, to receive AND carry Him wherever He sends us. If we are already full, not only is it impossible to do, but we could miss His glorious plan for our life.
Have you ever fasted? What needs to be trimmed in your world right now? Let me know.
Praying for you+