1917 Fast Observance Today: None. Enjoy all three meals, if you’d like.
1917 Eucharistic Fast*: Fasting from midnight from all food and drink, including water, until consumption of Holy Communion at Mass today.
*Applicable to healthy adults between ages of 21-60 (some exemptions exist – see 1917 Fast: The Specifics)
1917 Abstinence Observance Today: None. Enjoy eating meat today, if you’d like.
Potential Prayer: The Sorrowful Mysteries Rosary and pray for someone you have never prayed for before.
Potential Give: Spend time finishing a spiritual work you have been putting off.
Comments of the Day: Similar to the story of the blind man seeing in today’s Gospel (John 9:1-41), we fast to see, more clearly, the Son of God in our lives. We seek to use the literal and the physical to move deeper into the spiritual world.
Today’s fast before Holy Communion (which, even under the current guidelines, is at a minimum, a one hour fast before consumption), is another way to see and meet the Lord more clearly and to place Him above all else.
As Derek Olsen writes (see: http://www.stbedeproductions.com/?p=1925),
“The Eucharistic fast is not a penitential fast…The proper purpose is proved by Saint Augustine in the aforementioned Letter 54. Saint Augustine reminds Januarius:
…for from that time [of the earliest Church] it pleased the Holy Spirit to appoint, for the honour of so great a sacrament, that the body of the Lord should take the precedence of all other food entering the mouth of a Christian; and it is for this reason that the custom referred to is universally observed. (Ep. 54.6)
According to Saint Augustine, this practice makes literally true what we believe to be spiritually true. The Eucharist is the first and greatest sustenance for Christians; it is to be preferred above all other means of nourishment, physical and spiritual. Through the Eucharistic fast our priorities are demonstrated physically as the Eucharist becomes the first food of the day for us. In Augustine’s context of daily Eucharist, then, the practice presented a great symbol to the Church: for the faithful, their “daily bread,” the first food that passed their lips each morning, was their spiritually-first and greatest meal, the very bread of angels.”
According to the international traditional Catholic web log, Rorate Caeli:
“Pope St Pius X saw the greatest obstacle to frequent Communion, in the early 20th Century, not as the midnight fast, but in confusion about the spiritual conditions needed for a worthy reception. Pope Pius XII’s purpose in changing the rules [to reduce the Eucharistic fast from three hours to one hour] was not so much to make the fast easier, but to make Mass at different times of day possible, facilitating its incorporation into a working or a school day.
In Pope Pius XII’s Dominos Christus, it says that ‘whenever possible and medically appropriate, the traditional fast ought to be kept. In the case of evening Eucharists, the three hour rule seems reasonable. This method gives pride of place to the traditional practice, yet understands the scheduling issues with which our patristic forebearers did not have to contend…the fast is maintained for the glory of and preparation for the Eucharist. It should never be a legalistic or pharisaical tool to put down others.’”
Honor the Lord today and follow the 1917 Eucharistic midnight fast if possible. It will help us give it the “supreme reverence due to so great a Sacrament” (Immensae caritatis (1973))
Happy fourth Sunday of Lent!