Lent 2017

DAY 23: Thursday, March 23rd (Fasting and Partial Abstinence)

1917 Fast Observance Today*: Fasting, maximum food intake is one meal, along with two small meal (that together don’t equate to another full meal).  No snacking in between and no alcohol consumption today.  No high-caloric “drinks” like milkshakes, smoothies, etc.

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

1917 Abstinence Observance Today**: Partial abstinence, meaning that meat can be eaten only at the principal meal on these days

**Applicable to all age 7 and over.

Potential Prayer(s): Prayer of Saint Francis and the Sorrowful Mysteries Rosary

Potential Fast Intention: To live out the prayer of Saint Francis

Potential Give: Give away something you think you need.

Fasting Inspiration of the Day: Saint Francis of Assisi, (b. 1181/82 – d.1226), patron saint of Italy (along with St. Catherine of Siena), founders of the Franciscan order, first recorded stimagtist in Christian history and namesake of Pope Francis.  He received the stigmata during one of his 40-day fasts to Saint Michael.

Fasting friar

St. Francis brings bread to a fasting friar, from the Golden crypt of Padre Pio: mosaics of the life of St. Francis of Assisi, painted by artist Padre Marko Ivan Rupnik, a brilliant Jesuit theologian from Slovenia

From The Little Flowers of Saint Francis book (emphasis bolded)

“…St. Francis prayed his disciple, that for the love of Christ he would carry him across in his little boat to an island in the lake where no one inhabited, and that he would do this on the night of Ash Wednesday, so that no one might know of it. Then the other, for the great love and devotion he bore to St Francis, solicitous to grant his request, carried him to the said island, and St Francis took nothing with him but two little loaves.

And he remained there the whole of Lent, without eating or drinking, except the half of one of those little loaves, as was witnessed by his disciple when he returned to him on Holy Thursday, who found, of the two loaves, one entire, and the half of the other. It is believed that St Francis so refrained from eating out of reverence for the fasting of the blessed Christ, who fasted forty days and forty nights without taking any material food; and thus with that half loaf he kept from himself the poison of vainglory, and after the example of Christ he fasted forty days and forty nights.”

  • Besides the 40-day Lenten fast, Saint Francis observed an annual ‘Lent of Saint Michael’ fast from the Feast of the Assumption of Mary (Aug. 15) to the Feast of Saint Michael The Archangel (September 29)
  • From All Saints Day to Christmas
  • From June 29-August 15 in honor of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Comments of the Day: The irony is not lost that the two patron saints of Italy – a land known for its delicious, fresh, homemade food and drink and inhabited by the people that work hard to make both- are Sts. Francis and Catherine, two saints who fasted more from food and drink that almost every other Catholic saint on record.

Clearly, God gives us spiritual leaders that most directly challenge and temper the earthly goods we cherish and hold dear.

That said, St. Francis challenged not just Italians, but all to live as Christ lived – radically.  Radically in all areas. Imitation may be considered the highest form of flattery, and following Christ is all about imitating, as best as one can. But, obviously, I would’t call it flattery in this case, but rather unfiltered praise and worship.

Perhaps it is the ones, like Saint Francis of Assisi, who take comfort the least in life, that are given the ability to comfort those the most.  Not holy enough to know, but certainly seems like another great paradox or BOTH AND given to us in Christian life and Catholic teaching.

Nothing I am going to add here will enlighten on the life of Saint Francis, but I think it does a lot of good to read a little bit more about his life of servitude and asceticism and what that means for us in our lives.  Have a great Thursday!

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