Lent 2018

DAY 4: Saturday, February 17th morning/afternoon (Fasting and Full Abstinence) ; evening/Vigil (Feast)

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(s): The Sorrowful Mysteries

Potential Fast Intention(s): For all those, especially children, the sick and the elderly, experiencing hunger, now, and throughout the year not as the result of a self-directed fast, that our sacrifice may in some way, help feed them.

Potential Give(S): Go beyond financial donations and consider performing one of the corporal and/or spiritual works of mercy.  “Corporal works of mercy” concern the material needs of others and “Spiritual works of mercy” which concern the spiritual needs of others.  There are seven of each.

Fasting Inspiration for the Day: Saint Thomas Aquinas (1255 – 1274), the Angelic and Common Doctor of the Church


Aquinas deals with both abstinence and fasting in his Summa Theologica, in Question 146 and Question 147, respectively.  He also provides more reasoning for the 40-day fast:

“With regard to the forty day’s fast, according to Gregory (Hom. xvi in Evang.) there are three reasons for the number. First, “because the power of the Decalogue is accomplished in the four books of the Holy Gospels: since forty is the product of ten multiplied by four.” Or “because we are composed of four elements in this mortal body through whose lusts we transgress the Lord’s commandments which are delivered to us in the Decalogue. Wherefore it is fitting we should punish that same body forty times. or, because, just as under the Law it was commanded that tithes should be paid of things, so we strive to pay God a tithe of days, for since a year is composed of three hundred and sixty-six days, by punishing ourselves for thirty-six days” (namely, the fasting days during the six weeks of Lent) “we pay God a tithe of our year.” According to Augustine (De Doctr. Christ. ii, 16) a fourth reason may be added. For the Creatoris the “Trinity,” Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: while the number “three” refers to the invisible creature, since we are commanded to love God, with our whole heart, with our whole soul, and with our whole mind: and the number “four” refers to the visible creature, by reason of heat, cold, wet and dry. Thus the number “ten” [Ten is the sum of three, three, and four] signifies all things, and if this be multiplied by four which refers to the body whereby we make use of things, we have the number forty. Each fast of the Ember days is composed of three days, on account of the number of months in each season: or on account of the number of Holy orders which are conferred at these times.”

St. Thomas Aquinas offers three thoughts on fasting in his Meditations for Lent, which help us to recall the interior changes intended by the exterior acts.2

1. We fast for three reasons.

(i) To check the desires of the flesh.

(ii) That the mind may more freely raise itself to contemplation of the heights.

(iii) To make satisfaction for sin.

2. We fast under a command.

3. We fast in these times.

Fasting has two objects in view:

(i) The destruction of sin, and

(ii) the lifting of the mind to higher things.

Comments of the Day:  As we break from our fast this evening and all of Sunday, it is useful to highlight the five ways St. Thomas Aquinas says we can commit gluttony in order to best avoid them.  After all, we are seeking self-mastery and avoidance of sin, and do not want to use fast days as pretext to commit some form of gluttony on the days we can feast.

In his Summa Theologica (Part 2-2, Question 148, Article 4), St. Thomas Aquinas reiterated the list of five ways to commit gluttony:[11]

  • Laute– eating food that is too luxurious, exotic, or costly
  • Studiose– eating food that is excessive in quality (too daintily or elaborately prepared)
  • Nimis– eating food that is excessive in quantity (too much)
  • Praepropere– eating hastily (too soon or at an inappropriate time)
  • Ardenter– eating greedily (too eagerly)

Happy Saturday!

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