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Easter Monday (aka Bright Monday) Fasting Recollections, April 2nd, 2018

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Today, approximately 120 countries observe Easter Monday as an official holiday.  It was a glorious day for many reasons! Yet it is time again to wrap-up this blog (until next year 🙂 ).

Thanks to all of you who visited and followed this site and who joined in daily or even occasionally to fast like it is 1917!

I hope those who followed the fast gained inspiration from the many beautiful saints, future saints and lay people who were profiled in the daily posts.

From the beautiful new blog entitled, Beyond All Telling (https://beyondalltelling.com/2017/04/09/catholicity-is-what-we-receive/) :

“The Catholic Church is no cafeteria—it is a banquet table set with infinitely more graces than we can ever consume, so of course we will not be able to take in everything that is there and incorporate it into our bodily life. The more we go to the banquet, and the emptier our stomachs are when we go, the more we can consume, but receiving it all will take an eternity.”

Below I have compiled a list of 10 takeaways from last year’s fast:                                         (please feel free to add your own in the comments section of this blog!):

  • Fasting should not be considered optional or extraordinary. It should be woven throughout our entire year.  Saint Francis of Assisi should be our inspiration in this respect.  He fasted approximately 265 days out of every year! Keeping close to fasting keeps us closer to ourselves and God.
  • Fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year is a good way to do this. org is a great site that can help one live the fast all year long in this way! From the livethefast.org site as to why Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year:

“Going back to the early years of the church, fasting took place on Wednesdays and Fridays. Wednesday is the day Jesus was betrayed by Judas, so we fast in reparation for all sins and offenses. Friday was the day Jesus died on the cross. Fasting on these days reminds of us of Holy Week and also prepares us to receive the Eucharist that was instituted on Holy Thursday during the Last Supper.

Our Lady of Medjugorje also call us to fast:

“The best fast is on bread and water. Through fasting and prayer one can stop wars, one can suspend the natural laws of nature. Works of charity cannot replace fasting… Everyone except the sick, has to fast.” (July 21, 1982)

“Fast strictly on Wednesdays and Fridays.” (August 14, 1984)

  • Fasting improved my physical, mental and spiritual health. Overall, it gave me more energy throughout the day, better regulated my sleep schedule, made me a better father and husband, kept me sharper and clearer in thought at work and at home, improved my patience, kept me closer to those in suffering, kept me further away from temptation and sin, helped me to build a better interior spiritual space and allowed me to reconnect with myself in a deeper way.
  • Fasting helped me identify and repent more sins. During the fast, I found sins underneath sins; and when I then repented those sins, a greater peace and grace enveloped me.
  • I use to treat Lent like it was a race, one that you suffer a bit through until you hit the finish line, and then voila – you can go back to life the way it was. No longer.  Lent now shows me how much beauty there is in the season, in the process.  I appreciated the beauty of transforming, reawakening and deepening my faith this Lent, and that the goal is to attain “the true fast” from sin.  That is what I plan to take with me now and beyond. Do not leave Lent behind.  Keep a Lenten heart all year long.
  • Stay close to the Church and its liturgical seasons throughout the year. They are beautiful, rich and glorious – they make life bright, much like this week, Bright Week!
  • Make “all things new”, make your mark on the faith – keep it lively. Starting this blog was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done.  It kept me focused and engaged in the season.  Finding and digging into the fasting inspirations and providing comments daily was challenging at times, but that time was well-spent.  I learned so much about our faith along the way, about the many great faithful who clung to fasting in their lives.
  • Keeping a daily blog is difficult. I missed posting three times over the course of a 40-day period.  Apologies for those who were following along and didn’t receive a daily update those three days.  I pray your fasting didn’t stumble as a result!
  • I overlooked the sin of gluttony and how it had been affecting my spiritual life until I started this blog/fast. Gregory the Great once said: “As long as the belly is unrestrained, all virtue comes to naught.” Saint Paul once said that “Their end is destruction,” for whom “their god is the belly.” Gluttony applies not only to food, but also to anything else we do not temper in our lives, like binge-watching TV, spending too much time on our digital devices, etc.  I find typically when I don’t have a good grasp on how to tell if you are committing a sin or not, it is likely because I am doing it unknowingly or subconsciously.   Saint Thomas Aquinas lays out a good list of boundaries to tell if one is engaging in gluttony with respect to food.
  • In his Summa Theologica (Part 2-2, Question 148, Article 4), St. Thomas Aquinas reiterated the list of five ways to commit gluttony:[11]
  1. Laute– eating food that is too luxurious, exotic, or costly
  2. Studiose– eating food that is excessive in quality (too daintily or elaborately prepared)
  3. Nimis– eating food that is excessive in quantity (too much)
  4. Praepropere– eating hastily (too soon or at an inappropriate time)
  5. Ardenter– eating greedily (too eagerly)
  • We “need” much less food than we think to function.  I was surprised at how little I could ingest and still fully function, sometimes even better than I had before with a lot of food. I think it is fair to say that the body is prone to overeat if food is around. Several times I would tell myself even during this fast that I would only eat one piece of bread or such and such, and lo and behold, after I ate one, I would almost unconsciously go and grab 2, 3 or 4 more.  My body was/is just prone to satisfying wants and urges, and then rationalizing the need for them.  Fasting is a big help in limiting that behavior.

Again, I hope others enjoyed fasting this Lent.  I am hoping to pick this up again next year, and until then, have a blessed Easter season and consider incorporating fasting into the rhythms of life!

Lent 2018

DAY 46: Holy Saturday, March 31st (Fasting and Full Abstinence until 12pm; Feast after 12pm)

1917 Fast Observance Today*: Fasting.  Try to eat little to no food until 12pm.

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

1917 Abstinence Observance Today**: Full abstinence, no meat or meat products may be eaten.

**Applicable to all age 7 and over.

Potential Prayer(s): The Divine Mercy novena and the Sorrowful Mysteries Rosary

Potential Fast Intention: For those in the darkness and for all those who believe they are in hopeless situations.

Potential Give: Count your blessings and share it with a loved one.

Fasting Inspiration of the Day: The Harrowing of Hades.  It is the thought for food today.

Harrowing of Hell

Anastasis (Harrowing of Hell, or Christ in Limbo), Parekklesion of the Chora Church, 1315-21.  Christ is depicted leading Adam and Eve out by the hand.

Today the Lord enters Hades (in Greek) or Sheol (in Hebrew), not Gehenna (in Greek), and opens the doors to those who have went before and died in the faith.  These souls are saved and raised to Heaven when Jesus resurrects on Sunday.

From the Catechism:

“By the expression ‘He descended into Hell’, the Apostles’ Creed confesses that Jesus did really die and through his death for us conquered death and the devil ‘who has the power of death’ (Hebrews 2:14). In his human soul united to his divine person, the dead Christ went down to the realm of the dead. He opened Heaven’s gates for the just who had gone before him.”[11]

From the ancient homily for Holy Saturday (see: http://www.vatican.va/spirit/documents/spirit_20010414_omelia-sabato-santo_en.html):

“The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

Comments of the Day:  As of 12pm, the 1917 fast has ended.  After 12pm today, we can begin our celebration of Christ’s resurrection as we will soon finish with the Triduum and enter the liturgical season of Easter.

I hope any of you who are still following along at this point enjoyed it.  I have a list of things I learned these past two years writing the blog that I want to share with you on Easter Monday for the last post on this blog.

If you did enjoy Lent and the 1917 fast this year, please send in a comment or two on this post or on tomorrow’s if you’d like!  I’d love to hear it!

May you have a blessed Easter Sunday with our Lord and those around you!

Lent 2018

DAY 45: Good Friday, March 30th (Fasting and Full 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**: Full abstinence, no meat or meat products may be eaten.

**Applicable to all age 7 and over.

Potential Prayer(s): Today is the start of the Divine Mercy novena that ends on Divine Mercy Sunday, 4/8, and the Sorrowful Mysteries Rosary.

Potential Fast Intention: For all of us, as we all crucified Christ.

Potential Give: Finish anything that you have been putting off this Lent to do for someone else.

Fasting Inspiration of the Day:  Christ crucified.

good_friday_015

“Christ reconciled four worlds by destroying two barriers: one horizontal, separating the Jews from the Pagans, the other vertical, which had removed mankind from God.”   — St. Gregory of Nyssa

Comments of the Day: Today is the day we are saved and redeemed.  Today is the day we are able to break the bonds of sin put in place by Adam and Eve’s disobedience and become adopted children of God. 

The very word “excruciating” comes from two Latin words: ex cruciatus, or out of the cross.  It is a pain that is unlike any other, and only comes from the pain of crucifixion.

Generally, death from crucifixion comes from exhaustion and asphyxiation as sufferers are kept on their crosses sometimes for days until that occurs. Our Lord suffered the most painful torture for us, on a wooden beam which is made up of splinters of our sin.  The least we can do is to meditate on His suffering, and pray and fast for His forgiveness and grace.crucifixion-i

From http://www.theotokos.org/?page_id=1736

  • The Crucifixion took place outside the walls of Jerusalem (as depicted in this icon) to express not only the people’s rejection of the Messiah, but also the universal character of the Sacrifice. It is likewise a reminder that those who follow Christ are exiles of this world.
  • Christ’s agony on the Cross: “O God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me…”          (Ps. 22:1) was neither a sign of weakness nor loss of Faith in His Father but rather the recitation of Psalm 22. One of the Fathers said: “Christ became sin for us though He knew no sin. He became a curse for us, though He was the Blessed of God.”
  • A hymn in contemplation to this event said: “Today is hung upon the Tree, He Who hung the earth upon the waters. A crown of thorns crowns Him Who is King of Angels. He is wrapped about with purple of mockery Who wrapped the Heavens with clouds. He received buffetings Who received Adam in the Jordan. He was transfixed with nails Who is the Bridegroom of the Church. He was pierced with a spear Who is the Son of the Virgin. We worship Thy Passion, O Christ; show also unto us Thy Glorious Resurrection.”
  • John Chrysostom affirms that Adam’s tomb is said to have been at Golgotha and an earthquake exposed his skull.
Lent 2018

DAY 44: Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday), March 29th (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): The Liturgy of the Hours and the Sorrowful Mysteries Rosary

Potential Fast Intention: For those who persecute Jesus and his followers.

Potential Give: Spend time with Jesus quietly today, meditating on Him suffering all alone in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Fasting Inspiration of the Day: Matthew 26:38-41 NABRE

From The Agony in the Garden

Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death.* Remain here and keep watch with me.” 39u He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father,* if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” 40When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? 41Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.* The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Última_Cena_-_Juan_de_Juanes

The first Eucharist, depicted by Juan de Juanes, mid-late 16th century

Comments of the Day:  Today is the day of the Last Supper, where Jesus institutes the Sacrament of the Eucharist.  The true food of our lives; the food that sustained Saint Catherine of Sienna for seven years alone, the food that sustains all others.

The Last Supper institutes the reality of transubstantiation, of Jesus turning the bread and wine into literally His Body and Blood, right in front of His Apostles, and the in turn, institute their role as ministerial priests.

Catholics belief in transubstantiation separates us from numerous other Christian sects and offshoots; the belief is also well-grounded in Scripture, Tradition and 1st-2nd century A.D. historical accounts.

There is so much that happens on Holy Thursday

  • The Institution of the Eucharist
  • The institution of the ministerial priesthood
  • The washing of the feet
  • The betrayal of Jesus
  • The agony in the Garden of Gethsemane

Jesus last moments before betrayal revolve around food and giving thanks to God, spending time with friends, serving others, even until His most trying hours, even until His very last moments.  We must remember these events, sear them into our conscience and daily lives and meditate on them whenever our times get trying or we are looking for something to do.

 

 

Lent 2018

DaY 43: Holy Wednesday, March 28th (Fasting and Partial Abstinence) (a.k.a. “Spy” or “Good” Wednesday in the Western Church and “Holy and Great Wednesday” in the Eastern church)

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.

Spy Wednesday

Potential Prayer(s): The Liturgy of the Hours and the Sorrowful Mysteries Rosary

Potential Fast Intention: For those that betray or disavow God.

Potential Give: Be a witness of your faith to someone struggling with theirs.

Fasting Inspiration of the Day: Matthew 4:1-4 NABRE

The Temptation of Jesus.

1*a Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2b He fasted for forty days and forty nights,* and afterwards he was hungry. 3The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” 4* He said in reply, “It is written:c

‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’”

Comments of the Day: Traditionally, the Church encourages the faithful to fast every Wednesday and Friday; Wednesday because that is seen to be the day that Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus and Friday because that is the day the Lord suffered and died for us.  However, Wednesday is the day that Judas spies an opportunity to betray Jesus.  Judas then commits the actual betrayal of Jesus after leaving the Last Supper on Thursday.

Pact of Judas_1308-11_Siena_Museo dell'Opera del Duomo.jpeg

Duccio, Judas Accepts the Bribe, 1308-1311. Siena, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo

Tomorrow will focus on the chronology of the Last Supper a bit more, but today, we should work on identifying those inclinations that repel or separate us from the Lord.  Those inclinations that we know have led us in the past to sin, either venially or mortally.  Let us continue build our spiritual arsenal through fasting, praying and giving, so we can find those inclinations and root them out even more today.

 

Note:

  • Today is officially the last full day of Lent.
  • Tomorrow evening marks the beginning of the Easter Triduum ,which ends the evening of Easter Sunday.
  • The 1917 fast extends until 12pm on Holy Saturday, so continue to persevere in fasting as best you can until then! God bless!
Lent 2018

DAY 42: Holy Tuesday, March 27th (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): The Liturgy of the Hours and the Sorrowful Mysteries Rosary

Potential Fast Intention: For those active and retired clergy, whose lives are dedicated to the service of the Church and who work hard to deliver many of the liturgical services we experience this Holy Week.

Potential Give: Consider donating to the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust, which cares “for the health, well-being, and long-term needs of the priests who serve our Archdiocese of Boston.”

Fasting Inspiration of the Day: Gospel of Mark 9:20-28 RSVCE

And they brought the boy to him; and when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus[d] asked his father, “How long has he had this?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out[e] and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse; so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.”[f]

Comments of the Day: Fasting sometimes sounds like it is just a nice or good thing for us to do; perhaps as an add-on, something to try out here and there, to incorporate into our busy lives.

In reality, fasting, like prayer and almsgiving, is one of the most powerful spiritual weapons we have.  In Mark 9:28, we learn that even Jesus’ disciples cannot cast out the evil spirit from the boy.  Instead, the evil spirit is only cast out by prayer AND fasting.

Picture1.pngAt a subconscious level, I think we know this.  Any spiritual weapon is one where we allow God to increase in us as we decrease.  Evil spirits have a much more difficult time to co-opt us into temptation and convince us to sin if we are tempering our desires and conversing and praying to God throughout the day.

As Saint Basil the Great says,

“Fasting is a good safeguard for the soul, a steadfast companion for the body, a weapon for the valiant, and a gymnasium for athletes. Fasting repels temptations, anoints unto piety; it is the comrade of watchfulness and the artificer of chastity. In war it fights bravely, in peace it teaches stillness. – St. Basil the Great

Let us put on the armor of fasting today so that we may fight and conquer the spiritual battles we face!

Lent 2018

DAY 41: Holy Monday, March 26th (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): The Liturgy of the Hours and the Sorrowful Mysteries Rosary

Potential Fast Intention: For baptized, but fallen away Catholics – that the New Evangelization may return them to the Church

Potential Give: Partake in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Adoration sometime this Holy Week!

Fasting Inspiration of the Day: Matthew 6:16-18 NJB

16 ‘When you are fasting, do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they go about looking unsightly to let people know they are fasting. In truth I tell you, they have had their reward.

17 But when you fast, put scent on your head and wash your face,

18 so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

Jesus fasting.jpeg

Comments of the Day: Today, we enter the home stretch – Holy Week! This week the theo-drama that unfolds in the Passion builds to a crescendo in Good Friday, and ends with the Resurrection, Sunday.

This Biblical passage from the Gospel of Matthew initially gave me pause when creating this site.  Should I be publicly promoting fasting and a fasting site if God only rewards those who fast in secret?

Well after some good Catholic counsel from a former theology professor, I discerned it was still a good idea to move forward and create the site last year.  I wouldn’t be promoting my own fasting, but rather the importance and beauty of the practice thereof, in an effort to build a community of like-minded people who want to go beyond the minimum penitential rites this season.

On a deeper level, I’ve also come to find that fasting is not an end in and of itself, but rather a means; a means of encountering the “true fast” – the one where we work to purge ourselves from our-self, at least the one that is built upon Original Sin, and the downstream generational and personal sins that flow into our lives from that long-ago break with God’s grace.

Fasting does not score points with God, but it makes helps us open our hearts more to Him during our days.  Fasting allows us to empty ourselves so that we can refill our souls with the Holy Spirit.  In so doing, we truly fast and achieve our “reward” which is to become more like Jesus and less like our sinful nature.  If it is JUST about not eating a meal or not drinking that coffee, then we are doing it wrong.

In fact, we could be tempted to believe we are scoring those points and gaining favor with God, when in fact, we are just building up our pride and potentially damaging our spiritual life moreso.  The saints have said similar things in many different, more succinct and holier ways, but the essence is the same.

Here is to a blessed Holy Week that eliminates more of our sins as we fast, and adds more of God’s grace into our hearts!

Lent 2018

DAY 40: Palm Sunday, March 25th (Midnight Eucharistic Fast until consumption of Holy Communion)

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.

Potential Give: Devote time and attention to a task that you put aside but that another finds meaning in.

Comments of the Day:

“If Angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion”   – St. Maximilian Kolbe

By worthily preparing for the meeting with the Eucharistic Christ at the Eucharistic feast, man prepares himself for the eternal feast in Heaven.  In its own way, the Eucharist is a preparation and a foretaste of the eternal feast in the Kingdom of God”                                                                                                                                                       – Father Slavko Barbaric, from his rich book, Fast with the Heart.

holy-communion3.jpeg

The Eucharistic fast is vital to entering the eternal feast humbly and reverent.  Emptying and cleansing ourselves and approaching the high altar with hungry and thirst reflects the interior hunger and thirst we have to meet God.  To be consumed by Him, as we consume Him.

The longer the fast before receiving the Eucharist, the more deeply the Lord’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity enters into our lives.  It also shows the utmost reverence we have for the Sacrament.

If we go today to receive Holy Communion, go in fasting!

Lent 2018

DAY 39: Saturday, March 24th 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:  The Sorrowful Mysteries Rosary.

Potential Fast Intention: Those who are suffering the pain of losing someone close to them.

Potential Give: Console someone suffering or bereaving.

Fasting Inspiration for the Day: Saint Paul, the Apostle, author of 14 of 27 books in the New Testament, founder of at least 14 churches to include the Eastern Orthodox Church, patron saint of missionaries, evangelists, writers, journalists, authors, public workers, rope and saddle makers, and tent makers.

Peter-and-Paul-Byz.jpeg

The Apostles Peter (l) and Paul (r)

Saint Paul lived a life of suffering and zeal.  He was also a prolific writer.  In addition to authoring 14 of the books of the New Testament, he wrote several of the 77 or so references to fasting found in the Bible.  His trials, tribulations and sufferings are only partially described in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28:

24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

Since 2 Corinthians was written in 57 A.D. and recorded sufferings Paul had endured up to the time of the writing, the list would encompass the first 21 years of Paul’s 31-year ministry, but would not include the last 11 years of his life and work. Thus, the list would not include:

  1. The 4th and final year of the 3rd missionary journey.
  2. Paul’s arrest and treatment in Jerusalem.
  3. Paul’s two-year imprisonment in Jerusalem.
  4. Paul’s perilous journey from Caesarea to Rome that included:
  5. Another shipwreck
  6. A snakebite
  7. Paul’s first Roman imprisonment in Caesarea.
  8. Paul’s “house arrest” imprisonment in Rome.
  9. The three-to-four year period between the first and second Roman imprisonment.
  10. Paul’s second Roman imprisonment which resulted in his execution.

Saint Paul suffered a martyr’s death in 67 A.D., when it is believed that the Roman Emperor Nero had Saint Paul beheaded.

Many times we find in the book of Acts that the Apostles “prayed and fasted” together whenever undertaking a task or mission.

Comments of the Day: Reflecting on Saint Paul’s life of suffering make so many of our own lives seem a lot less difficult.  But as Saint Paul says, he would much rather have all those sufferings if it allows him to better know our Lord.

If we, for whatever reason, are dealing with sufferings, challenges and difficulties this Lent, let us turn to Saint Paul as another source of inspiration to fight the good fight and keep the faith strong, lively and loving despite them.

Saint Paul, like so many of our early Christian brothers and sisters, experienced innumerable sufferings, but endured to keep the faith and pass it on to so that others may better know our Lord, particularly through the Church.   These sacrifices should always give us pause and inspiration in any difficult moment we encounter.  As we celebrate Palm Sunday tonight or tomorrow, let us pray and thank all those who helped to build the actual Churches we enter to worship our Lord! For God’s glory!

Lent 2018

DAY 38: Friday, March 23rd (Fasting and Full Abstinence)

1917 Fast Observance Today*: 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**: Full abstinence, meaning that no meat or meat products may be eaten.

**Applicable to all age 7 and over.

Potential Prayer(s): Stations of the Cross; the Sorrowful Mysteries Rosary

Potential Fast Intention: For those who do not examine their conscience daily; that God may compel them to quiet themselves to the point of opening their hearts to the Holy Spirit to search, identify and instruct those in matters of the faith.

Potential Give: Perform a corporal and spiritual work of mercy this Lent.

Fasting Inspiration of the Day: Pope Saint Leo the Great, (b. 400 – d. 461), Doctor of Unity for the Church, the 10th longest reigning Pope of all time.

Saint Leo was “a Roman aristocrat, and was the first pope to have been called “the Great”. He is perhaps best known for having met Attila the Hun in 452 and persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy. He is most remembered theologically for issuing the Tome of Leo, a document which was a major foundation to the debates of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon.”

Leoattila-Raphael

The Meeting of Leo the Great and Atila,

(fresco painted by Rafael in 1514, Apostolic Palace, Vatican City)

From a Sermon by Pope Saint Leo the Great:

“For what can be more salutary for us than fasting, by the practice of which we draw nigh to God, and, standing fast against the devil, defeat the vices that lead us astray…

For fasting was ever the food of virtue.  From abstinence there arise chaste thoughts, just decisions, salutary counsels.  And through voluntary suffering the flesh dies to the concupiscences, and the spirit waxes strong in virtue.  But as the salvation of our souls is not gained solely by fasting, let us fill up what is wanting in our fasting with almsgiving to the poor.  Let us give to virtue what we take from pleasure.  Let the abstinence of the man who fasts be the dinner of a poor man.  Let us have thought for the protection of the widow, for the welfare of the orphan, for the comforting of those that mourn, for the peace of those who live in discord.  Let the stranger be given shelter.”

Comments of the Day:  Saint Leo strongly advocated the works of mercy toward others so we can show true Christianity.  In his sermon, Saint Leo describes fasting as almost a gateway virtue.  If done well and alongside prayer, it opens up many doors to the spiritual life, and to an increase in the works of mercy.

Corporal Works of Mercy:

  • To feed the hungry;
  • Give drink to the thirsty;
  • Clothe the naked;
  • Shelter the homeless;
  • Visit the sick;
  • Visit the imprisoned;
  • Bury the dead.

SPIRITUAL WORKS OF MERCY:

  • To counsel the doubtful;
  • Instruct the ignorant;
  • Admonish sinners;
  • Comfort the afflicted;
  • Forgive offenses;
  • Bear wrongs patiently;
  • Pray for the living and the dead.

May the Holy Spirit continue to break open our hearts and instruct our minds as to how we can best perform these works in our lives, this Lent and beyond!