AP110309060280

J. Peter Nixon vows to make do with less:

Perhaps I’m just a guilt-ridden Catholic, but I don’t think I’m alone in sometimes feeling overwhelmed by Lent. At times it feels like we are merely reproducing some of the negative aspects of our culture:  our tendency to prefer sound to silence, action to thought, and work to rest. 

The central disciplines of Lentprayer, fasting, and almsgivingare ultimately about doing less.  They force us to slow down.  I remember a few years back trying to fast completely for an entire day.  To some extent, I will confess, this was an exercise in spiritual machismo.  As my blood sugar dropped, however, I began to be conscious of how fast I was walking and moving and how I needed to slow down if I was going to make it through the day. ... Perhaps this Lent we might make it our task to do less and to say less so that we can create the necessary space in our lives where God can speak and give and we can hear and receive.

(Photo: A woman with her forehead marked with ash sits in the San Francisco church on Ash Wednesday in Mexico City, Wednesday March 9, 2011. By Alexandre Meneghini/ AP.)

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.