How do we change our hearts to honor God? The church suggests the following three approaches: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Prayer is our way of communicating with God. In our communal prayer, the mass being the most important, we are united in our praise and thanksgiving to the Father for the gift of his Son who strengthens us in the Eucharist. In our private prayer, we have the opportunity to converse with God about our daily lives. We turn to Him believing that He hears us, trusting that He will answer us, and believing that He knows what we need even before we ask.
Fasting from food and comfort help us to purify our body and soul. We need to keep in mind that God does not need the self-imposed suffering we undergo, but we need to become detached from the things we would want outside of God. The purpose of our spiritual suffering is to unmask the lies we try to live by and to open our soul to the Father so that, together with Jesus, we may receive everything from him. Sin turns us inward, makes us live on the surface of ourselves, and separates us from others. Through fasting we become more attuned to what God wants for us.
Almsgiving is a way for us to assist those in need and, at the same time, an exercise in self-denial to free us from attachment to worldly goods. Pope Benedict XVI said that through almsgiving, we train ourselves spiritually, because it helps us to overcome constant temptation, teaching us to respond to our neighbor’s needs and to share with others whatever we possess through divine goodness. It also helps us to recognize Jesus in the poor.
-Fr. Paul Yi