1917 Fast Observance Today: Fasting, maximum food intake is one meal, along with two snacks (that together don’t equate to a meal). No snacking beyond that and no alcohol consumption today
1917 Abstinence Observance Today: Partial abstinence, meaning that meat can be eaten only at the principal meal on these days
Potential Prayer: The Sorrowful Mysteries Rosary (same mysteries prayed throughout Lent)
Potential Fast Intention: Those who deny the Lord, that they may find Christ’s love and peace this Lent and experience a conversion/reversion to the faith
Potential Give: Price of saved meals today to Church, charity or worthy cause
Fasting Inspiration for the Day: Saint Peter of Alcantara (St. Teresa of Avila’s spiritual director)
(St. Peter of Alcantara appears to St. Teresa of Avila)
St. Teresa, Doctor of Prayer for the Church, said she saw his soul take flight to heaven upon his death in 1562. Later he appeared to her and said: “O happy penance that has merited for me such wondrous glory!”
St. Teresa’s description of St. Peter of Alcantara tells us so much about this great saint (emphasis added):
“Oh! what a perfect imitator of Jesus Christ God has just taken from us, by calling to his glory that blessed religious, Brother Peter of Alcantara! The world, they say, is no longer capable of such high perfection; constitutions are weaker, and we are not now in the olden times. Here is a saint of the present day; yet his manly fervour equaled that of past ages; and he had a supreme disdain for everything earthly. But without going barefoot like him, or doing such sharp penance, there are very many ways in which we can practice contempt of the world, and which our Lord will teach us as soon as we have courage. What great courage must the holy man I speak of have received from God, to keep up for forty-seven years the rigorous penance that all now know!
Of all his mortiﬁcations, that which cost him most at the beginning was the overcoming of sleep; to effect this he would remain continually on his knees, or else standing. The little repose he granted to nature he took sitting, with his head leaning against a piece of wood ﬁxed to the wall; indeed, had he wished to lie down, he could not have done so, for his cell was only four feet and a half in length. During the course of all these years, he never put his hood up, however burning the sun might be, or however heavy the rain. He never used shoes or stockings. He wore no other clothing than a single garment of rough, coarse cloth; I found out, however, that for twenty years he wore a hair-shirt made on plates of tin, which he never took off. His habit was as narrow as it could possibly be; and over it he put a short cloak of the same material; this he took off when it was very cold, and left the door and small window of his cell open for a while; then he shut them and put his cape on again, which he said was his manner of warming himself and giving his body a little better temperature.
He usually ate but once in three days; and when I showed some surprise at this, he said it was quite easy when one was accustomed to it. His poverty was extreme; and such was his mortiﬁcation, that, as he acknowledged to me, he had, when young, spent three years in a house of his Order without knowing any one of the religious except by the sound of his voice; for he had never lifted up his eyes; so that, when called by the rule to any part of the house, he could ﬁnd his way only by following the other brethren. He observed the same custody of the eyes when on the roads. When I made his so acquaintance, his body was so emaciated that it seem to be formed of the roots of trees.”
In the forward to his book, Treatise on Meditation and Prayer, it is written that Saint Peter slept only 1.5 hours a night, sitting up against a wall in his narrow room, with his head against a wooden board for 46 years. Pope Gregory XV declared that his Treatise was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He died praying on his knees.
Comments of the Day: St. Peter of Alcantara’s severe mortifications provide us additional spiritual nourishment, comfort and fortitude whenever times get tough during Lent and our 1917 fast.
In addition, the 1917 fast is already much shorter than it looks. Now that Ash Wednesday is behind us, we are only left with another 34.5 days to fast (less than 5 full weeks), given that 10 feast days exist throughout Lent.
If you had been thinking the 1917 fast would be a strict 40-day fast in total, you may be forgetting that from sundown/evening Saturday through midnight Sunday, we are supposed to feast, and are called to relax from all servile work while worshiping our Lord and His glorious resurrection.
Also, unlike Saint Peter of Alcantara, we are eating one full meal a day, as allowed by the 1917 Code. Some of you may be able to go without a full daily meal during some days this Lent, or may be fasting on only bread and water, which of course, would be two fasting “gold standards”, but that additional mortification is not expected under the “1917 fast”.
For the time being, I think the 1917 fast is plenty useful. 🙂