Blog

Lent 2018

DAY 35: Tuesday, March 20th (Fasting and Partial Abstinence)

ONLY TEN DAYS LEFT OF LENT! LET’S MAKE IT A FRUITFUL ONE!

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: Those imprisoned, physically and mentally.  That Christ may reach each one of them and open up their interior lives to the love, joy and peace found in the Triune God.

Potential Give: Consider connecting with and/or consoling someone out of society’s regular sight this Lent, either in prison or elsewhere, and bring God’s love in some measure to that person.

Fasting Inspiration of the Day: St. Maximillian Kolbe (b. 1894 – d. 1941), patron saint of families, prisoners, journalists, political prisoners, drug addicts, the pro-life movement and the entire 20th century.

“In Auschwitz, where hunger and hatred reigned and faith evaporated, this man opened his heart to others and spoke of God’s infinite love. He seemed never to think of himself. When food was brought in and everyone struggled to get his place in the queue so as to be sure of a share, Fr Maximilian stood aside, so that frequently there was none left for him. At other times he shared his meagre ration of soup or bread with others. He was once asked whether such self-abnegation made sense in a place where every man was engaged in a struggle or survival, and he answered: ‘Every man has an aim in life. For most men it is to return home to their wives and families, or to their mothers. For my part, I give my life for the good of all men.’”

Saint Kolbe.jpeg

Saint Maximillian willingly took the place of a condemned man in the starvation bunker in Auschwitz, writing his own death sentence, because the man had a wife and children.  Even after 14 days in the starvation bunker, he did not die.  Rather he was always in prayer on his knees or standing and his face “was radiant” according to reports.  The Nazis needed to give him a lethal dose of carbolic acid to end his life on earth.

Comments of the Day:  Amazingly, lack of food, even in a place like Auschwitz, did not kill Saint Kolbe; and it appeared to his Nazi captors that it likely may never do so.  Why? Because Saint Kolbe relied on spiritual nourishment and ate of the “true food” in his “starvation bunker.”

Saint Kolbe shows what an extraordinary life one can give to God even from behind bars, even from behind a place designed to snuff out all hope and will to live like Auschwitz.  His love of God and love of neighbor prevailed even in that place, even unto his very last. Saint Kolbe, pray for his to fast out of love for God and our fellow neighbor this Lent!

Lent 2018

DAY 34: Monday, March 19th, Feast Day for the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, patron of the Catholic Church (No Fasting/Abstinence today)

1917 Fast Observance Today: None. Enjoy all three meals, if you’d like, in celebration of Saint Joseph.

1917 Abstinence Observance Today: None. Enjoy eating meat today, if you’d like, in celebration of Saint Joseph.

Potential Prayer: The Litany of Saint Joseph (one of only six litanies approved for public and private use) and The Sorrowful Mysteries Rosary

Potential Give: Consider donating time, talents and funds to protector organizations like the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Club in honor of Saint Joseph

Comments of the Day:  Today we celebrate the solemnity of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, patron of the Catholic Church, as well as patron of unborn children, fathers, immigrants, workers, employment, traveler, carpenters, realtors, against doubt,  hesitation, and of a happy death, among others.

St-Joseph-Icon

Solemnities are the highest rank of celebration in the Catholic liturgical calendar, followed by feasts, memorials and optional memorials and ferias.

On solemnities, fasting and abstaining on these days is considered inappropriate, given their importance.  Thus today we are not called to fast and abstain.

After solemnities, today’s Catholic liturgical calendar ranks these days in this order:

In 1917, the rankings of liturgical days, which had been in place since 1602, were different and had different names.  They were, in order of importance, as follows:

  • Doubles, I Class
  • Doubles, II Class
  • Greater Doubles
  • Doubles
  • Semidoubles
  • Singles

Even in 1917, the feast of Saint Joseph was a Doubles, I Class celebration, and regarded as of the highest importance.

Although Saint Joseph does not appear much in scripture, he is called a “just man” in Matthew 1:19.  He was a humble carpenter, who served our Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary faithfully as Jesus’ “foster-father” and Mary’s “chaste guardian.”

In the litany of Saint Joseph, he is referred to as a “diligent protector” of Christ, bringing to mind his important role in taking Mary and the infant child Jesus to Egypt to protect our Lord from being killed by King Herod (Matt 3:13-16).

Let us honor and celebrate those who have protected us in our lives and provided us with examples of just and chaste living! Pray for us Saint Joseph!

Lent 2018

DAY 32: Saturday, March 17th morning/afternoon (Fasting and Full Abstinence) evening/Vigil (Feast) – Commeration of Saint Patrick, Bishop, Missionary)

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 Lorica of St. Patrick (http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/prayers/patrick.htm) and The Sorrowful Mysteries

Potential Fast Intention: That those celebrating St. Patrick’s Day seek to celebrate the saint and his devotion to God liturgically first, culturally second and commercially third, if at all.

Potential Give: Consider donating to the Ancient Order of Hibernians today: http://www.aoh.com/donations/

Fasting Inspiration for the Day:  St. Patrick, (b.385-d.461), patron saint of Ireland, Nigeria, Montserrat, Archdiocese of New York, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, Boston, Rolla, Missouri, Loíza, Puerto Rico, Murcia (Spain), Clann Giolla Phádraig, engineers, paralegals, Archdiocese of Melbourne; invoked against snakes, sins[1

saint patrick

While St. Patrick was enslaved as a young man in Ireland, he endured long bouts of hunger.  Soon he began to pray and fast, constantly.

From the 7th century biography of his life by Tirechan, we read:

“I would pray constantly during the daylight hours,” he later recalled. “The love of God and the fear of him surrounded me more and more. And faith grew. And the spirit roused so that in one day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and at night only slightly less.”

After six years of slavery, Patrick received a supernatural message. “You do well to fast,” a mysterious voice said to him. “Soon you will return to your homeland.”

Miracle of the Pigs

After a three-day journey, the men landed in Gaul (modern France), where they found only devastation. Goths or Vandals had so decimated the land that no food was to be found in the once fertile area.

“What have you to say for yourself, Christian?” the ship’s captain taunted. “You boast that your God is all powerful. We’re starving to death, and we may not survive to see another soul.”

Patrick answered confidently. “Nothing is impossible to God. Turn to him and he will send us food for our journey.”

At that moment, a herd of pigs appeared, “seeming to block our path.” Though Patrick instantly became “well regarded in their eyes,” his companions offered their new-found food in sacrifice to their pagan gods.

From Tirechan’s Saint Patrick’s Confessio

“(1) And Patrick proceeded to Mons Aiglí, intending to fast there for forty days and forty nights, following the example of Moses, Elias, and Christ. .. And Patrick proceeded to the summit of the mountain, climbing Cruachán Aigli, and stayed there forty days and forty nights, and birds were troublesome to him and he could not see the face of sky and land and sea <…>(4) because to all the holy men of Ireland, past, present, and future, God said: ‘Climb, o holy men, to the top of the mountain which towers above, and is higher than all the mountains to the west of the sun in order to bless the people of Ireland’, so that Patrick might see the fruit of his labours, because the choir of all the holy men of the Irish came to him to visit their father; and he established a church in Mag Humail.”

From: http://catholicexchange.com/st-patricks-day-friday-lent

“For forty days, Patrick fasted upon that wild summit, demanding Divine Mercy upon the Irish race. For forty days, he prayed even as the beleaguered demons ranged round the crags in the shape of black birds of prey, swooping and screaming to disturb the holy bishop in his meditations. For forty days Patrick suffered in isolation, until he was finally given heaven’s covenant: that those Irish who did penance for their sins would be borne to heaven; that the barbarians would never conquer the Church in Ireland; and that the Irish people would enjoy final perseverance even unto Judgment Day, upon which Day of Doom, it would fall to Patrick to pass judgment over his beloved flock. These promises made from on high, legend says the Patrick rang a great iron bell from the crest of the mountain, whose tolling echoed over Erin’s Isle, scattering all evil creatures—particularly snakes—who rushed in terror into the sea. The prayer of St. Patrick had been heard and answered.”

earlieast known image of St Patrick.jpeg

The earliest known image of Saint Patrick, from a 13th-century manuscript, shows him wearing a blue cassock. (Photo: Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens)

Comments of the Day:  Many of St. Patrick’s celebrated miracles, revolve around fasting and food.  St. Patrick saves the souls of penitent Irish and frees the country from the snakes roaming the land through his 40-day fast and prayer retreat.   His first locution comes as a result of gaining favor with God via his ardent fasting.

Let us remember that fasting is instrumental to obtaining God’s graces and to honor Saint Patrick probably in the way he would most is by following Jesus into the Lenten desert and turning away from excesses and things that distract us from God.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Lent 2018

DAY 31: Friday, March 31st (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 all children, that their youth may be protected from sin and nourished with daily examples of the faith, above all else.

Potential Give: Consider making a meal for someone that could use one.

Fasting Inspiration of the Day: Saint John Chrysostom, (b. 349 – d. 407), patron saint of Constantinople, education, epilepsy, lecturers, orators, preachers. Saint John harmonized the liturgical life of the Church by revising the prayers and rubrics of the Divine Liturgy, or celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

To this day, Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches of the Byzantine Rite typically celebrate the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom as the normal Eucharistic liturgy.

saint john chrysostom.jpg

St John Chrysostom on true fasting (St John Chrysostom, Letters; Homilies on the Statutes, Homily III, (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf109.xix.v.htm)

Fasting is a help to us; we should approach fasts with expectation of spiritual improvement.

…Hence St. Paul saith, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers. Put on therefore the whole amour of God.” Eph. vi. 12.

Hast thou observed the wrestler? Hast thou observed the soldier? If thou art a wrestler, it is necessary for thee to engage in the conflict naked. If a soldier, it behooves thee to stand in the battle line armed at all points. How then are both these things possible, to be naked, and yet not naked; to be clothed, and yet not clothed! How? I will tell thee. Divest thyself of worldly business, and thou hast become a wrestler. Put on the spiritual amour, and thou hast become a soldier. Strip thyself of worldly cares, for the season is one of wrestling. Clothe thyself with the spiritual amour, for we have a heavy warfare to wage with demons. Therefore also it is needful we should be naked, so as to offer nothing that the devil may take hold of, while he is wrestling with us; and to be fully armed at all points, so as on no side to receive a deadly blow.

Cultivate thy soul.

Cut away the thorns.

Sow the word of godliness.

Propagate and nurse with much care the fair plants of divine wisdom, and thou hast become a husbandman.

And Paul will say to thee, “The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.” 2 Tim. ii. 6. He too himself practiced this art. Therefore writing to the Corinthians, he said, “I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” 1 Cor. iii. 6.

Spiritual and physical effects of Fasting.

Sharpen thy sickle, which thou hast blunted through gluttony—sharpen it by fasting. Lay hold of the pathway which leads towards heaven; rugged and narrow as it is, lay hold of it, and journey on.

And how mayest thou be able to do these things? By subduing thy body, and bringing it into subjection. For when the way grows narrow, the corpulence that comes of gluttony is a great hindrance.

Keep down the waves of inordinate desires.

Repel the tempest of evil thoughts.

Preserve the boat; display much skill, and thou hast become a pilot.

But we shall have the fast for a groundwork and instructor in all these things.

Real Fasting: from meat and sins.

I speak not, indeed, of such a fast as most persons keep, but of real fasting ; not merely an abstinence from meats; but from sins too. For the nature of a fast is such, that it does not suffice to deliver those who practice it, unless it be done according to a suitable law. “For the wrestler,” it is said, “is not crowned unless he strive lawfully.”2 Tim. ii. 5.

Why do we fast after the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee?

To the end then, that when we have gone through the labor of fasting, we forfeit not the crown of fasting, we should understand how, and after what manner, it is necessary to conduct this business; since that Pharisee also fasted,  Luke xviii. 12. but afterwards went down empty, and destitute of the fruit of fasting. The Publican fasted not; and yet he was accepted in preference to him who had fasted; in order that thou mayest learn that fasting is unprofitable, except all other duties follow with it.

The Ninevites fasted, and won the favor of God. Jonah iii. 10. The Jews, fasted too, and profited nothing, nay, they departed with blame. Isa. lviii. 3, 7; 1 Cor. ix. 26.

Since then the danger in fasting is so great to those who do not know how they ought to fast, we should learn the laws of this exercise, in order that we may not “run uncertainly,” nor “beat the air,” nor while we are fighting contend with a shadow.

Fasting is a medicine; but a medicine, though it be never so profitable, becomes frequently useless owing to the unskilfulness of him who employs it. For it is necessary to know, moreover, the time when it should be applied, and the requisite quantity of it; and the temperament of body that admits it; and the nature of the country, and the season of the year; and the corresponding diet; as well as various other particulars; any of which, if one overlooks, he will mar all the rest that have been named. Now if, when the body needs healing, such exactness is required on our part, much more ought we, when our care is about the soul, and we seek to heal the distempers of the mind, to look, and to search into every particular with the utmost accuracy…

Admonition – Dost thou fast? Give me proof of it by thy works!.

I have said these things, not that we may disparage fasting, but that we may honor fasting; for the honor of fasting consists not in abstinence from food, but in withdrawing from sinful practices; since he who limits his fasting only to an abstinence from meats, is one who especially disparages it.

Dost thou fast? Give me proof of it by thy works!

Is it said by what kind of works?

If thou seest a poor man, take pity on him!

If thou seest in enemy, be reconciled to him!

If thou seest a friend gaining honor, envy him not!

If thou seest a handsome woman, pass her by!

For let not the mouth only fast, but also the eye, and the ear, and the feet, and the hands, and all the members of our bodies.

Let the hands fast, by being pure from rapine and avarice.

Let the feet fast, by ceasing from running to the unlawful spectacles.

Let the eyes fast, being taught never to fix themselves rudely upon handsome countenances, or to busy themselves with strange beauties.

Fasting for all the senses explained

For looking is the food of the eyes, but if this be such as is unlawful or forbidden, it mars the fast; and upsets the whole safety of the soul; but if it be lawful and safe, it adorns fasting. For it would be among things the most absurd to abstain from lawful food because of the fast, but with the eyes to touch even what is forbidden. Dost thou not eat flesh? Feed not upon lasciviousness by means of the eyes.

Let the ear fast also. The fasting of the ear consists in refusing to receive evil speakings and calumnies. “Thou shalt not receive a false report,” it says.

Let the mouth too fastfrom disgraceful speeches and railing. For what doth it profit if we abstain from birds and fishes; and yet bite and devour our brethren? The evil speaker eateth the flesh of his brother, and biteth the body of his neighbor.

Because of this Paul utters the fearful saying, “If ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.” Gal. v. 15. Thou hast not fixed thy teeth in the flesh, but thou hast fixed the slander in the soul, and inflicted the wound of evil suspicion; thou hast harmed, in a thousand ways, thyself and him, and many others, for in slandering a neighbor thou hast made him who listens to the slander worse…

Comments of the Day:

St. John Chyrsostom targets the true fast.  He explains that a true fast is one that seeks to continually abstain from sin and all that could lead to it, including actions that give the enemy a foothold in our daily lives.  Fasting from food helps to build temperance and eliminate gluttony, but also softens temptations of all senses, particularly the eyes. As he says, “looking is the food of the eyes” and the sin of concupiscence is typically bore that way.  We do good to fast and observe all the beneficial effects the Lord gives to those that step away.  St. John reminds all that the lessons we learn during Lenten fasts, and all other fasts, are also meant to apply to our daily lives, all year round.  St. John pray for us to the Lord that the lessons we learn and the spiritual awakenings we gain during Lent may be put into daily practice beyond Holy Week!

Lent 2018

DAY 30: Thursday, March 15th (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 that pray for us, those we know and those we do not.  That we may fulfill their prayers by following God’s Word.

Potential Give: Identify a service you use/rely on in your life, and thank and/or donate to someone that works to deliver that service to you today or before Easter.

Fasting Inspiration of the Day: Saint Augustine (b. 354 – d. 430), Church Father, Doctor of Grace for the Church, patron saint Augustinians and theologians, among others.

quote-fasting-cleanses-the-soul-raises-the-mind-subjects-one-s-flesh-to-the-spirit-renders-saint-augustine-94-89-62.jpeg

Comments of the Day: According to Saint Augustine, fasting, when combined with prayers and alms, essentially, tempers and eliminates the seven deadly sins.  The Lord gave us fasting as an antidote.  The strength of the medicine increases with earnest praying and giving to the other bodies of Christ, in, for and through Christ.  Fasting from food nourishes the soul, feeds the spirit.  Eating of this “food” feeds others.  It is a beautiful mystery that we enter into again today.  Don’t waste any of it!  God bless!

Lent 2018

DAY 28: Tuesday, March 13th (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: 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.

tertullian.jpeg

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!

Lent 2018

DAY 27: Monday, March 12th (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 all those professing and working to build the “New Evangelization” that they may be sustained and nourished in their work by the Triune God for the benefit of all!

Potential Give: Consider donating to EWTN, the TV network founded by Mother Angelica.  As she said “remember [EWTN] between your gas bill and the electric bill”

Fasting Inspiration of the Day:  Mary Mother Angelica of the Annunciation, commonly known as “Mother Angelica,” Abbess Emerita, who was foundress of Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) and Our Lady of the Angels Monastery.  Hard to believe that she passed away almost two years ago.remembering_mother_angelica_poster-rc9b8c5d0c3f3420892b7184b5979361e_wvt_8byvr_324Mother Angelica addresses Lent and mortification on her show Mother Angelica Live on February 15, 1994.  I’d invite anyone to take a moment today and watch a portion of the six-part episode that you can catch for free on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnafbQAYFy0

Comments of the Day: My grandmother would watch Mother Angelica.  One of the last gifts I can remember receiving from her was Mother Angelica’s book “Answers, Not Promises.”  She meant a lot to my grandmother and now she means a lot to my mother and I.  Mother Angelica Live classics are just that – classics, in that they are timeless in their appeal and truths.  Mother Angelica could bridge the secular and the religious in a pithy, humorous way and if you have some time to listen to her reflections on Lent and mortification, I am sure you will find something new and interesting in it.  God bless!

Lent 2018

DAY 26: Laetare Sunday, March 11th, (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 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: Rejoice, O Jerusalem!  Today is Laetare Sunday!

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.

thebodyofchrist

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 Laetare Sunday of Lent!

Lent 2018

DAY 25: Saturday, March 10th morning/afternoon (Fasting and Full Abstinence) – Saturday, March 10th, 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).  However, since the fast ends at the time of the Vigil (~4pm), only eating the two snacks, if necessary, until then, is recommended.  No snacking in between that and no alcohol consumption today.

~4pm – midnight: no fasting or abstaining is required in celebration of the Holy Sunday Mass.

*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 until ~4pm.

~4pm – midnight: no fasting or abstaining is required in celebration of the Holy Sunday Mass.

**Applicable to all age 7 and over.

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

Potential Fast Intention: For all those struggling with addiction of any kind, that they may find the peace, only given by the Holy Trinity.

Potential Give: Consider supporting the mission of the Guest House: http://guesthouse.org/donate/

Fasting Inspiration of the Day: St. Robert Bellarmine, (b. 1542 – d. 1621) Doctor of the Church, patron saint of canonists, catechumens and catechists.  Pope Clement VIII said of him, “the Church of God had not his equal in learning.” 

robert-bellarmine-prayer-card60328lg

The five fruits of fasting, according to St. Robert Bellarmine:

1) Fasting Disposes the Soul for Prayer: In order to pray effectively, one must set the mind on things heavenly and pull our attentions and affections away from things merely earthly, which drag our minds and hearts down and serve as a barrier to contemplating divine things. Fasting aids us in detaching our attention from things temporal and disposes us to more effectually commune with God. Hence, Moses fasted for forty days in preparation for his communication with God on Mount Sinai [5]; Elijah similarly fasted for forty days and Daniel fasted for three weeks before receiving the series of visions that comprise the second half of the Book of Daniel. [6] Likewise our Lord fasted for forty days as He prepared Himself for his mission, and St. Francis of Assisi spent a month in prayer prior to receiving the holy stigmata. In the Church’s liturgy, great feasts are traditionally preceded by periods of fasting, for it is evident from the examples of the Scriptures and the lives of the saints that we are better disposes to pray effectually when in a state of fasting.

2) Fasting Tames the Flesh: St. Paul admonishes us to “crucify the flesh, with its vices and concupiscences” [7] and offers himself as an example, saying, “I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection”. [8] While the body is certainly not evil as the Manicheans taught, it nevertheless can become a distraction in the service of God because of the many bodily urges and passions that attempt to bend our will towards gratifying them. There are many bodily desires, but perhaps the most primal and fundamental bodily desire is the desire to eat. Hunger is experienced by all persons of both sexes, of all ages and all states in life. It is the fundamental bodily urge and is most indicative of our creaturely state and our contingent existence – it is the king of all bodily desires. Therefore, when we by fasting dethrone this king and force the urges of hunger to submit to the will, we progress greatly in taming the flesh and subjecting it to our reason. There is no means of subjecting the flesh that is more effectual than fasting.

3) Fasting Honors God: Besides this, fasting also gives honor and glory to God. This is because we ourselves, trained by asceticism, become living sacrifices that are pleasing to God. [9] This is why the Council of Nicaea, in Canon 5 calls the Lenten fast “a clean and solemn gift, offered by the Church to God.” Pope St. Leo the Great also calls fasting a sacrifice: “For the sure reception of all its fruits, the sacrifice of abstinence is most worthily offered to God, the giver of them all.” [10]  Therefore fasting is a sacrifice that gives honor and glory to God.

4) Fasting is Penitential: Fasting is also a means of atoning for the punishment due to sin. This is related to what was said above regarding hunger as the king of the bodily desires. Because we are in the flesh, we all need food for nourishment, and thus the practice of fasting becomes inherently unpleasant; to effectively fast is to truly crucify the flesh, and though we can accustom ourselves to the practices, fasting itself is something that is difficult, unpleasant and requires virtue to do consistently. Thus, it becomes an act of penance, which we can offer to God in satisfaction for the penalty due to sins. The Scriptures and the Fathers give us many examples of this. The anger of God was averted by the fasting of the people of Nineveh, and the Jews in the days of Esther appeased God by prayer and fasting. Many citations from the Fathers could also be offered in support of this teaching, but let us offer only two: St. Cyprian of Carthage admonishes his people, “Let us appease the anger of an offended God by fasting and weeping, as He admonishes us.” [11] St. Augustine also says, “No one fasts for human praise, but for the pardon of his sins” [12].

5) Fasting is Meritorious with God: Finally, fasting is meritorious with God, both in the sense that it is effective in obtaining favors from God, and in that fasting itself merits a divine reward. Hannah fasted and her prayers were heard by God because of her fasting, and she thus conceived the prophet Samuel; similarly, Sarah was delivered from a demon after fasting for three days. Our Lord warns us that certain demons can only be overcome with fasting. [13] If we return to the passage from the Gospel of Matthew cited above, we note that our Lord promises a reward for those who fast:

Comments of the Day: Keep close to the five fruits of fasting today as we wrap up our fasting and abstaining for the week.  Tomorrow is the Lord’s Day and not a day of fasting nor abstinence.  Have a blessed Saturday!

Lent 2018

DAY 23: Thursday, March 8th (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): Prayer of Saint Francis and the Sorrowful Mysteries Rosary

Potential Fast Intention(s): To live out the prayer of Saint Francis

Potential Give(s): Give away something you think you need.

Fasting Inspiration of the Day: Saint Francis of Assisi, (b. 1181/82 – d.1226), patron saint of Italy (along with St. Catherine of Siena), founders of the Franciscan order, first recorded stimagtist in Christian history and namesake of Pope Francis.  He received the stigmata during one of his 40-day fasts to Saint Michael.

Fasting friar

St. Francis brings bread to a fasting friar, from the Golden crypt of Padre Pio: mosaics of the life of St. Francis of Assisi, painted by artist Padre Marko Ivan Rupnik, a brilliant Jesuit theologian from Slovenia

From The Little Flowers of Saint Francis book (emphasis bolded)

“…St. Francis prayed his disciple, that for the love of Christ he would carry him across in his little boat to an island in the lake where no one inhabited, and that he would do this on the night of Ash Wednesday, so that no one might know of it. Then the other, for the great love and devotion he bore to St Francis, solicitous to grant his request, carried him to the said island, and St Francis took nothing with him but two little loaves.

And he remained there the whole of Lent, without eating or drinking, except the half of one of those little loaves, as was witnessed by his disciple when he returned to him on Holy Thursday, who found, of the two loaves, one entire, and the half of the other. It is believed that St Francis so refrained from eating out of reverence for the fasting of the blessed Christ, who fasted forty days and forty nights without taking any material food; and thus with that half loaf he kept from himself the poison of vainglory, and after the example of Christ he fasted forty days and forty nights.”

  • Besides the 40-day Lenten fast, Saint Francis observed an annual ‘Lent of Saint Michael’ fast from the Feast of the Assumption of Mary (Aug. 15) to the Feast of Saint Michael The Archangel (September 29)
  • From All Saints Day to Christmas
  • From June 29-August 15 in honor of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Comments of the Day: The irony is not lost that the two patron saints of Italy – a land known for its delicious, fresh, homemade food and drink and inhabited by the people that work hard to make both- are Sts. Francis and Catherine, two saints who fasted more from food and drink that almost every other Catholic saint on record.

Clearly, God gives us spiritual leaders that most directly challenge and temper the earthly goods we cherish and hold dear.

That said, St. Francis challenged not just Italians, but all to live as Christ lived – radically. Radically in all areas. Imitation may be considered the highest form of flattery, and following Christ is all about imitating, as best as one can. But, obviously, I would’t call it flattery in this case, but rather unfiltered praise and worship.

Perhaps it is the ones, like Saint Francis of Assisi, who take comfort the least in life, that are given the ability to comfort those the most.  Not holy enough to know, but certainly seems like another great paradox or BOTH AND given to us in Christian life and Catholic teaching.

Nothing I am going to add here will enlighten on the life of Saint Francis, but I think it does a lot of good to read a little bit more about his life of servitude and asceticism and what that means for us in our lives.  Have a great Thursday!