1917 Fast Observance Today Through Afternoon*: 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 Through Afternoon**: Full abstinence. No meat or meat products.
**Applicable to all age 7 and over.
Potential Prayer: Chaplet of Divine Mercy and/or The Sorrowful Mysteries
Potential Fast Intention: For the mentally and physically ill and disabled, that their challenges help them to reach sainthood and union with God sooner than it would without them, and that through Christ’s redemptive suffering, that their challenges help family, friends, acquaintances and helpers, all do the same.
Potential Give: Think of a good you can do for someone who caused you to suffer, and do it this Lent.
Fasting Inspiration for the Day: Saint Faustina (b. 1905 – d. 1938) “Apostle of Divine Mercy” and patroness of World Youth Day. Saint Faustina, live 33 years on earth, similar to her “spouse” Jesus, and achieved mystical union with our Lord, which is best described in her famous Diary.
Saint Faustina receives a vision of Jesus, in her room at the convent. From her Diary:
After a while, Jesus said to me; ‘Paint an image according to the model you see, with the motto below: Jesus I trust in You. I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and then throughout the world’ ” (47).
“I promise that the soul that venerates this image will not perish. I also promise victory over its enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory” (48).
God gave Saint Faustina extraordinary graces during her life to include revelations, visions, hidden stigmata, participation in the Passion of the Lord, the gift of bilocation, the reading of human souls, the gift of prophecy and the rare gift of mystical engagement and marriage.
Other saints talk about the inextricable links between mercy and fasting. It is not a surprise then that the “Apostle of Divine Mercy” also advocated strict fasts. From her Diary:
“Interior mortifications take the first place, but besides this, we must practice exterior mortifications, strictly determined, so that all can practice them. These are: on three days a week, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, there will be a strict fast. Each Friday, all the sisters – each one in her own cell – will take the discipline for the length of the recitation of Psalm 50 and all will do this at the same time; namely, three o’clock; and this will be offered for dying sinners. During the two great fasts, ember days and vigils, the food will consist of a piece of bread and some water, once a day.”
Comments of the Day: Mercy and fasting go hand and hand. They allow for God’s graces and the Holy Spirit to enter the body and interpersonal relationships, respectively. Sometimes, when one hears mercy, they think of another, or one to pay it forward to. At least, that is how I tend to associate mercy; whereas, fasting sometimes seems to have the opposing connotation – one of individualization and privatization. These two practices need each other as true mercy and true fasting seeks to encompass the interior, the exterior (which reflects the interior) and connect with those around us. This is why we read many saints telling us to go ahead and eat a big heaping pile of meat if we cannot give mercy or love to those around s as we do it. We fast for ourselves, but even more for those around us, for those in the body of Christ.
A friend wrote this week that Pope Emeritus Benedict, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, wrote of the need to move towards the universal will of all, rather than our own individual will in his book, “Eschatology”.
In the book he says that Ratzinger “concedes, completely, that we have privatized Christianity, parodying it as a salvation-machine ideology for the individual pursuit of heaven, when in fact, the whole point has always been our consubstantial solidarity with the rest of humanity — election is for the universal mission. To carry our the universal salvific will of the Father.”
We fast to become more human, to help more, to give more. We fast to fill ourselves more fully with God and not with mere food; we fast to act more in accordance with His will, not less and certainly not our own.
With this last week of Lent approaching, may we serve ourselves another empty plate, a larger empty plate this time, to fill only with love and mercy for others.