Breaking Lenten Fasts


Many people have come asking me what to do if they broke their Lenten resolution. Do they have to find something NEW now?

\”Ok, think. What have I NOT done in the last week so I can keep \’not-doing-it\’ for the other 3 weeks?\”

Or, maybe someone out there wants to go to confession, because they couldn\’t hold true to their Lenten promises?

Don\’t worry. We are supposed to fail in Lent. The 40 days fast was done by Jesus. He made it through the temptations and travails nearly starving to death. But we are made of lesser stuff. We are weaker and will fail. Although we share the same likeness to our Lord and wonderfully made, we sin and break down. We lose heart. We fall. We eat what we told ourselves we would give up. We lose our patience. And that\’s ok. We are supposed to fail in Lent.

St. Francis of Assisi went once to an island in Lago Bracciano, Italy (I believe. Correct me if I\’m wrong.) to do a 40 day Lenten fast, leaving Ash Wednesday morning and returning Holy Thursday morning. He didn\’t eat or drink for forty days. Well, I take that back. He made it 39 days. He stopped one day short out of reverence for Christ. This great saint shows us that the point of the 40 days is not to make it, but to fail. Lent shows us that we are weak. It reminds us how fragile we are and how accustomed to comforts we are. Therefore by breaking our resolutions, we prove this. Thus we go to Jesus as the one who does have the power and strength to save us and forgive us for our weaknesses.

Through Lent, I grow in greater appreciation for what Jesus has done for me and what he continues to do in my life to enlighten, strengthen, and free me from the darkness of sin and ignorance. Keep it up. Don\’t give up, but don\’t feel like you\’re an epic failure if you can\’t make it all the way through Lent with your promises. Take them back up when you break them. Because if you fail, you\’ve actually achieved Lent\’s purpose: realizing that you are weak and need God all the more!

©2014. Fr. James Melnick. All rights reserved.