Originally published at Ignatian Spirituality

When we think about the season of Lent, we often consider practices of fasting, prayer, and increased almsgiving. The Catechism says that although fasting is intended as an act of penance (#1434), there are also times in the Gospels when Jesus tells us not to be somber or to make a big display out of fasting, but instead to do it in secret:

And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:16–18)

The secret part is not easy, in my view. My husband already hears from me frequent updates about how my point-based dieting system is going and bears with me as he hears how much the point value of this or that potential dinner food might be. I am the last to claim that I