Friday after Ash Wednesday – 8 March
“Come back to Me with all your Heart.”
A Friday of Lent
and an introduction to “True Fasting.”
We are still in the first four days of Lent.
Today and tomorrow we read the 58th Chapter
of the book of the prophet Isaiah.
These powerful words have such a contemporary message.
True fasting will lead us to act justly and caring
for those who are most in need.
On every Friday of Lent we abstain from meat
as a sign of our common penance.
It represents our efforts to abstain from
– do without – so many other patterns
that get in the way of our happiness and wholeness.
“Then they will fast”
“Among the penitential practices that the Church suggests to us above all during this Lenten time is fasting. It consists in a special sobriety in the food we eat, while ensuring care for the needs of our body. This is a traditional form of penance, which has lost none of its significance and which we perhaps need to rediscover, above all in that part of the world and in the milieus where food not only abounds, but where we at times encounter illnesses due to overeating.
Obviously, penitential fasting is very different from therapeutic diets. But as it is, we can see in it a therapy for the soul. For when it is practised as a sign of conversion, it facilitates the interior effort to make oneself available to listening to God. To fast is to reaffirm for oneself what Jesus replied to Satan, when the latter tempted him at the end of forty days of fasting in the desert: “Not on bread alone is man to live but on every utterance that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:4) Today, especially in our well-to-do societies, it is difficult for us to understand the meaning of this word of the gospel. Instead of pacifying our needs, the consumer society creates ever new ones, even engendering disproportionate activism… Among other meanings, penitential fasting has precisely the aim of helping us to recover interiority.
The effort towards moderation in food also extends to other things that are not necessary and it greatly aids the life of the spirit. Sobriety, recollection and prayer go together. This principle can be appropriately applied to our use of the mass media. They are unquestionably useful but they must not become the “masters” over our life. In so many families, the television seems to replace rather than facilitate dialogue among the persons! A certain “fasting” in this area can be salutary, either so as to give more time to reflection and prayer or to cultivate human relations.”
St John Paul (1920-2005)
I know how much You love me.
It’s hard for me to feel it sometimes,
but I know Your love is always with me.
Help me to use Your love as a way
to persevere in my Lenten intentions.
I am weak but I know with Your help,
I can use these small sacrifices in my life to draw closer to You.
May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life.