And whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Lk 14: 27-33)

“Being a disciple” of our Lord includes bearing the cross of our own limitations by recognizing them, surrendering them to God’s will, and following Christ in the way we are given to do, within our circumstances. This means: 1. Not taking on the type of overly-elaborate “building projects” that we can’t finish; and 2. Having the humble wisdom to negotiate “conditions of peace” with those adverse circumstances against which we cannot wage all-out war.

Here’s what this tells me about planning a fasting and praying rule for Lent. I surrender my self-reliant ideas about my own “will power,” and instead “sit down” and consider how I can integrate into the upcoming seven weeks the gentle discipline of Lent. Can I make it to church for some or any weekday Lenten services? How can I in my home and/or work-environment find the time/space for some daily prayer? Do I need to negotiate some “conditions of peace” with loved ones or colleagues who are not fasting, (by saying something like, Hey here’s what I’ll be doing, and please don’t freak out or anything because I am trying to get healthy)? Can I fast oil-free on all weekdays? Or should I fast with oil? Or limit it to 1-2 Tbs daily? Might I integrate little healthy snacks in between my meals, (ca. 3 hours before and after the midday meal) to avoid overeating at mealtimes? Where in my day can I fit in some healthy exercise?

Whatever daily/weekly discipline I decide on, let me remember not to throw the baby out with the bath water, that is to say, to just opt out of any discipline at all. Because I do want to be Your “disciple,” Lord, but can’t do that without Your gentle “discipline.” Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference!(This reflection is from our Lenten Guidebook, heretofore available only to Patreon-subscribers, but NOW available as a digital download here at our website’s Gift Shop!) #happycheesefare