Lent 2017

DAY 3: Friday, March 3rd (Fasting and Full Abstinence)

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 in between that and no alcohol consumption today.

*Applicable to healthy adults between ages of 21-60 (some exemptions exist – see 1917 Fast: The Specifics)

1917 Abstinence Observance Today**: Full abstinence. No meat or meat products.

**Applicable to all age 7 and over.

Today’s Rosary (same throughout Lent): The Sorrowful Mysteries

Potential Fast Intention: For all the souls in purgatory, that all may advance to their Heavenly home.

Potential Give: Alms for Africa; http://www.usccb.org/catholic-giving/opportunities-for-giving/solidarity-fund-for-africa/collection/index.cfm

Fasting Inspiration for the Day: Saint Padre Pio, the only priest in the 2000+ year history of the Catholic Church to receive the visible stigmata.


  • First, Saint Padre Pio said this about today’s fast intention: “…I am not exaggerating when I say that the souls in Purgatory certainly suffer no greater pain.” Our prayers today can reach into purgatory and advance those suffering souls on their journey. If our prayers are so great, they may even allow a soul(s) to move on to Heaven.
  • Second, with respect to fasting, it is written “in 1945, Padre Pio’s intake of food was measured at three and one half ounces a day, yet he weighed more than one hundred and seventy pounds. The amount of food and drink that Padre Pio consumed would not have sustained the life of an infant.”
  • Additionally, “one time, Padre Pio went for twenty-one days without eating. He only received Holy Communion. “You must eat,” said the superior. “Please, I cannot eat, he said. “You must,” the superior insisted and within minutes Padre Pio vomited everything he tried.”


Comments of the Day: Saint Pio lived from 1887 – 1968; during most of his priestly life, the 1917 Code of Canon Law rules on fasting and abstinence were in effect. He would undoubtedly been following this Lenten fast as it is required under the 1917 Code, under penalty of sin.

Sometimes, I am more amazed thinking about the past than the future. Not sure this happens to any of you, but I think of a year like 1917, for example, and how different life was like for most of the faithful.

For one thing, many Christian married families, it seemed, had more children than they do today; both sets of my grandparents, for example, had 4 and 5 children, respectively. Our first Saint of the day, Saint Catherine of Siena, was one of 25 children in her family, during the 1300s!  Saint Padre Pio was one of 7 or 8 children in his family. That, to me, suggests a strong faith that God will provide.

I marvel at the thought of these bigger families during a time of limited conveniences, limited resources, no doctor on call, no 911 for emergencies, no 401k set aside for retirements, no universal health coverage, no insurance for most things, etc.

And yet the faithful  were called to  attend weekly mass, dressed in their “Sunday’s best”, all  while they observed a midnight Eucharistic fast, in addition to the other penitential rites this Lent.

Many fasted like this without supermarkets down the street, without hundreds of open and accessible restaurants(some ready to deliver)!

For instance, look at all the restaurants open to eat at this evening around my house:


And yet, without all this convenience, the entire faithful, whether in Massachusetts or in Africa, were called to fast, for the vast majority of Lent.

So, by and large, the faithful had much less disposable income and food, yet more expenses, proportionally, on basic necessities; and despite all that, they were required to give more of themselves, particularly with respect to fasting. Amazing!

Today’s great conveniences are only getting greater.  And these conveniences can also easily inflame temptations to engage in two deadly sins: sloth, gluttony. We counter those temptations here by engaging two virtues: temperance and diligence. In Lent, we temper our human desires and seek to discipline our minds and bodies to achieve greater spiritual heights.

These thoughts strengthen my resolve and hope they may for you as well. Enjoy day 3!


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