Friday, February 16, 2018
The 40 Days of Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving:
Begin counting the days on the First Sunday of Lent and when you reach 40 you will find yourself at the Thursday we call holy and thus the threshold of the Sacred Triduum.
So what have we been doing since last Wednesday? Acclimating ourselves to live these 40 days differently, that by our prayer and fasting, we may become more attuned to God, and by our fasting and self denial, more aware of our neighbor in need and better able to bless them with our almsgiving.
According to an ancient tradition, Christians fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays, but never on Sundays, as it is the weekly Easter, thus if they fasted on the transitional but technically pre-Lenten days that begin on Ash Wednesday, they would make up for the Lenten Sundays on which they would not be fasting.
Lenten fasts were admittedly more serious in former days - (no meat, no eggs, no oil, no dairy, primarily just vegetables)! Such a fast though has proved to be not only spiritual but also a very healthy reboot - so it seems that the plan of God for his people is actually quite holistic and the health our Creator desires for us is not only that of spirit but of mind and body as well.
Such a fast has been promoted in some contemporary religious circles under the name of “The Daniel Fast” and for those who wish to embrace a more thorough and traditional Lenten Fast it is worth investigating.
As Catholics, we are sadly losing sight of the value of fasting as a healthy spiritual and physical practice by mistakenly thinking that we are only supposed to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
This misunderstanding can be attributed to the fathers of the Second Vatican Council who in their optimism perhaps over estimated our spiritual maturity in that they felt the Church should be less strictly legislative in its rules on fasting (only one meatless meal per day) and abstinence (no meat) and so only required fasting on at the beginning and end of Lent and abstinence on all the Fridays of Lent.
Yet their thought was that the faithful would not abandon these penitential practices but rather decide for themselves how to make fasting and abstinence a regular part of their religious lives without incurring sin when they were not practically able to do so.
Indeed, when we see that lines at confessionals are not as long as they might have once been before that Council, what we might also appreciate is that many were in that line because their pizza on Friday came with pepperoni, or their vegetable soup was based in beef broth! This was not the best use of a confessor’s time nor an effective way to cultivate a deeper and more authentic understanding of sin!
So we are supposed to be fasting and abstaining on a regular basis and not only during Lent, indeed the few days in Lent when these are required for the whole church are days which are supposed to afford us a greater sense of solidarity with one another in our self-discipline and self denial.
Yet on other days of Lent, and indeed regularly throughout the year, we might voluntarily embrace fasting and abstinence according to our own circumstances for our own spiritual growth and our physical health and mental clarity as well.
Additional Opportunities to participate in Daily Mass during Lent:
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:30 PM in St. Jude Chapel.
DIOCESAN WOMEN AND MEN’S CONFERENCE:
Ames Sports Complex, Stonehill College, Saturday, March 10, 2018.“Be on Fire, Set the World on Fire”. (Opening at 9 AM and concluding with Mass at 4 PM). Once again, Christ the King Parish will offer a “scholarship” and provide bus transportation for the first 44 parishioners who sign up through the parish office. The total cost will be $25 inclusive of the day’s program and the bus transportation.
Registration deadline will be February 28th.
ADULT CONFIRMATION PREPARATION:
Any who are 18 years of age or older who have not yet received the Sacrament of Confirmation are invited to begin to prepare at this time for the celebration of this sacrament during the coming Easter Season. Please contact the parish office to register for classes.