Susan is a spiritual director and has significant experience in giving retreats and other programs of spiritual formation as well as in offering individual spiritual direction. She is the author of Growing in Love and Wisdom: Tibetan Buddhist Sources for Christian Meditation (Oxford 2013) and of the blog, Creo en Dios! Prior to moving to Minneapolis in 2007, Susan was a member of the adjunct ministerial staff of St. Ignatius Retreat House in New York.
Susan shares her reflections on her journey with God on her blog, in podcasts and videos, in group talks and retreats, and in print and online articles.
Prayer, Almsgiving and Fasting
We are now in the season of Lent, that special time in the cycle of the church when we are invited to focus in a special way on our life with God – to see where we’ve been and to refocus our energies. It is an invitation to nurture our relationship with God and to deepen our appreciation for God’s enormous and unconditional love for us.
The traditional Lenten practices are prayer, almsgiving and fasting. These are not practices reserved for Lent; they all three are fundamental (and therefore year-round) aspects of the lives of all of us who call ourselves Christians. But we are invited during this time to be more intentional, and perhaps to step up our efforts in all three areas.
Almsgiving is not an optional activity. If you have any doubt about that, go back and re-read the judgment passage in the 25th Chapter of Matthew. Jesus is quite clear how the sheep and goat will be separated at the end of the day and it is all about “what you did for the least of these.”
Fasting, other than as part of some crash diet, is not something all that consistent with our consumerist culture, which encourages us to always want and have more. For Christians, fasting is not only an act of solidarity of those without, but an important reminder that the source of our ultimate satisfaction is nothing we can find and accumulate here. You might think of what God is inviting you to fast from.
We hopefully need no reminder of the importance of prayer in our lives. We need time with God every day It is not enough to say “my work is my prayer” or “I recite some prayers while I’m driving in traffic.” Those are both terrific, but they don’t take away from our need for quiet, contemplative time with our God.
Prayer. Almsgiving. Fasting. Practices for every day.