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): The Liturgy of the Hours and the Sorrowful Mysteries Rosary
Potential Fast Intention: That our love and gentleness increase whenever we fast.
Potential Give: Consider helping a neighbor this Lent with some act of charity.
Fasting Inspiration of the Day: Tertullian (b. 155 – d. 240), who is considered by some to be “the father of Latin Christianity” and “the founder of Western theology.
Although not a saint due to incorrect teachings and ideas he held, Tertullian is one of the earliest fathers of the faith to preach about fasting, as well as the first to use the word Trinity in Latin writings. He is believed to be the first to witness the existence of a Latin Bible. From Tertullian’s On Fasting (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/tertullian33.html):
“Why, then, do not you constantly preach, ‘Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die?’ just as we do not hesitate manfully to command, ‘Let us fast, brethren and sisters, lest to-morrow perchance we die.’ Openly let us vindicate our disciplines.
Sure we are that ‘they who are in the flesh cannot please God;’ not, of course, those who are in the substance of the flesh, but in the care, the affection, the work, the will, of it. Emaciation displeases not us; for it is not by weight that God bestows flesh, any more than He does ‘the Spirit by measure.’ More easily, it may be, through the ‘strait gate’ of salvation will slenderer flesh enter; more speedily will lighter flesh rise; longer in the sepulcher will drier flesh retain its firmness.”
Comments of the Day: Slogans of advertisers and popular culture surround us: “YOLO: You only live once,”; “Just Do It,”; “Try Everything,” – but what exactly are these phrases trying to incite in us? Is it a spirit of attention deficit, gluttony or intemperance? I tend to think these phrases tend incite a spirit of worldliness, a push to forget and dismiss the eternal, a push to explore sin and virtue alike, without reflection or differentiation, in us if we let them fill our minds.
But what about the “life of the world to come” that we recite belief in the Nicene Creed?
Tertullian, a second century writer, directly confronts this idea. If today were the last, would it be best to eat and drink to satiety, or to fast?
If we only live once, if this life is all we have, then giving our all to God – in gratitude and love – rather than trying to take it all in selfishly with our five senses would be most beneficial. Tertullian reiterates that “they who are in the flesh cannot please God” and plays on the Lord’s words about the “narrow gate” to Heaven by reminding us that those more slender will have an easier time to pass through.
Again, the physical and the spiritual are inseparable; both are given to us by God and fasting profoundly reminds us of this linkage. If done with the right intention, Tertullian says, fasting “makes man a friend of God. The demons are aware of that.”
When we “thirst” today, let it also be out of love and the sake of souls as it was for the Lord!