SAINTS: Sharbel Makhluf — Fasting With A Purpose, by Greg Friedman

March 3, 2017

From Lent With The Saints Isaiah 58:1-9a; Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 18-19; Matthew 9:14-15 Fasting is one of the three traditional ways to observe Lent (prayer and almsgiving are the other two), based on Jesus’s description of them in our Ash Wednesday Gospel. Today the scripture readings focus on fasting.  The prophet Isaiah chides the people for their behavior on fast days, pursuing evil and not God’s ways.  The Lord wants works of justice and compassion connected with fast days.  In the Gospel, Jesus explains to the followers of John the Baptist that while he (Jesus) is with his disciples, they will not fast; only after he has left them will they fast. Sharbel Makhluf was known for both his fasting and his care for those who [...]

ADVENT MEDITATION: The Origins Of The Season by Philip H. Pfatteicher

November 27, 2016

From Journey Into the Heart of God There is an almost innate pattern in human behavior of fast before feast, preparation followed by celebration, anticipation and preparation leading to feasting, but otherwise the origins of the season of Advent are obscure.  Liturgical historians have in recent decades become notably skeptical regarding our knowledge of the origins and development of the seasons of the liturgical year.  We possess little sure and certain knowledge, only fragmentary and isolated pieces of evidence.  It is like having a dozen or so pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and that basis attempting to imagine what the whole puzzle looks like.  We will see with regard not only to Advent but also to Christmas, Epiphany, and Lent [...]

POETRY: To Keep A True Lent by Robert Herrick

March 9, 2016

Is this a fast, to keep The larder lean? And clean From fat of veals and sheep? Is it to quit the dish Of flesh, yet still To fill The platter high with fish? Is it to fast an hour, Or ragg’d to go, Or show A downcast look and sour? No ; ‘tis a fast to dole Thy sheaf of wheat, And meat, Unto the hungry soul. It is to fast from strife, From old debate And hate; To circumcise thy life. To show a heart grief-rent; To starve thy sin, Not bin; And that’s to keep thy [...]

PRAYER: A Prayer For Peace, by Dorothy Day

September 28, 2015

Rome.  The fast of the twenty women, which I had come to join and which was the primary reason for my visit to Rome during the final session of the [Second Vatican] Council, began on October 1, a Friday.  That morning I checked out of my hotel and proceeded to the great square in front of St. Peter’s to wait for Barbara Wall and Eileen Egan at the end of the Colonnade.  We were going to Mass together on that First Friday morning. Without tickets we could not have got in, since all the Masses which preface the meetings of the Council are packed to the doors.  The laity receive communion not at the main altar but at a side altar.  All around there were confessionals, frequented, I was edified to see, by bishops and cardinals, [...]

LENT: My Night Knows No Darkness, by Karl Rahner

March 5, 2015

From The Mystical Way in Everyday Life Even today, the liturgical year of the church has a time dedicated to penance.  Does this not seem strange?  We certainly understand that in former centuries such a time was considered necessary for the management of the spiritual and the religious life.  People back then were full of life’s joy, satisfied and carefree, and they celebrated Mardi Gras in the streets and laughed the laughter that still came from the heart.  Therefore, they could presumably experience a brief period of recollection, of contemplative seriousness, and of ascetic restraint from life’s luxuries as a beneficial change from everyday life and for the good of the soul. What about us?  Do we not consider the [...]

SERMON: Second Homily On Fasting by Basil the Great

March 1, 2015

1 Comfort the people, you priests!  Speak to the ears of Jerusalem!  Speech is of such a nature that it has the ability to increase the desires of the eager and to awaken the eagerness of the lazy and sluggish.  Thus after generals have arranged their army into a battle line, they give an encouraging speech before the battle begins, and their exhortations have such power that quite often they produce contempt of even death in the majority.  And as trainers and coaches escort their athletes to contests in stadiums, they exhort them vehemently about the necessity of toiling for the crowns, such that many of them are convinced to disdain their bodies out of ambition for victory.  And indeed, though it falls on me to array the soldiers of [...]

LENT: Sanctify A Fast, Gather The People, by Thomas Hopko

February 24, 2015

From The Lenten Spring Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber, Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep and say, “Spare Thy people, O Lord, and make not Thy heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?'” (Joel 2:15-17) The Lenten season is inaugurated in the church with the words of the prophet Joel.  The message is proclaimed in the midst of the congregation: “Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly.  Gather [...]

LENT: Fasting, by Harold A. Buetow

February 23, 2015

From Embrace Your Renewal Fasting isn’t the same as dieting.  The purpose of dieting is to improve the health and beauty of our bodies.  The purpose of fasting is to turn our attention to God, other people, and ourselves.  Dieting means the regulation of food intake as a health measure – as in low-calorie, low-fat, or low-sodium foods.  Fasting as we mean it in religion is to abstain from food voluntarily for a time and to eat sparingly as a spiritual exercise.  Though both dieting and fasting can have physical benefits, only fasting gives spiritual ones. Like mortification in general, the practice of limiting the amounts and kinds of our food and drink are forms of penance common to all great religions.  People fast partly [...]

ASH WEDNESDAY: In Which I Am Hungry, Crabby, And Grateful On Ash Wednesday by Kerry Weber

February 18, 2015

From Mercy in the City As I’m waking up on Ash Wednesday morning, my first thought is how glad I am that I didn’t decide to make morning workouts part of my Lenten routine.  My normal coping mechanism after a late night – a vanilla iced latte – doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of the traditional Ash Wednesday fast, so I walk past the coffee shop near my office and instead fill up my water bottle before sitting down at my desk. The morning passes relatively quickly, and at noon I join my coworkers, Jesuit and lay, in the simple chapel on the fifth floor of our office building, which doubles as a Jesuit residence.  One of the nice things about having priests for coworkers is that on days like this, I don’t [...]

SERMON: Homily On The Beginning Of The Holy Season Of Lent (On fasting) by John Chrysostom

March 19, 2012

I am pleased and delighted to see the church of God adorned today with the throng of her own children, and to see you all coming together with great joy.  I mean, whenever I look upon your beaming faces, I take it as an infallible sign of the satisfaction you feel at heart. — As the wise man said, “The face betrays the joy of the heart.”  So naturally I myself arose this morning with more than the usual enthusiasm since I was to share with you this spiritual happiness and I wanted to become a herald for you of the approach of Lent — the medicine, I might say, for your souls.  Like a loving father, you see, the Lord of us all, in his desire that we be cleansed of the sins we have committed with the passing of time, desired a [...]