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.

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.

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.

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