“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to others to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” Matt 6: 16-18
Living a life of virtue and righteousness is not easy. It takes work. It takes prayer. It takes grace. It takes fasting. We cannot live a life of virtue on our own. We need the graces of the Sacraments (especially the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation). We need to spend time in Adoration. We need God’s graces to be virtuous.
We all have this tendency to sin. Most of us have learned that when we give in to sin, the sin becomes worse and thus, we become slaves to that sin.
Daily, we make choices: prayer or television; reading Scripture or social media, giving in to anger or being patient. TV and social media are not evils, but if one is constantly engaged in them and not following their duty or responsibilities, it can become a poor choice and may lead to sin.
This is why fasting helps us with virtue, especially if we practice fasting with humility and not “look gloomy like the hypocrites.” Fast with humility so that “your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” Practicing self-denial helps us to avoid sin instead of giving in to it. Practicing self-denial helps us to increase in virtue. We can practice self-denial even on days we are not fasting. Instead of taking a second helping of food, we can push the plate away. Instead of having dessert, we can have a piece of fruit. Instead of spending a lot of time watching TV, we can go to our rooms and read Scripture or pray a Rosary.
None of us are perfect and we sometimes fail in our attempts to be virtuous. If we fail, we can always return to God and go to Confession. It’s easy to see this message illustrated in the parable of the prodigal son who squandered his father’s money, then realized the wrong he did and returned to his father. We can all be like the prodigal son. We can all return to the Father, no matter what wrong we have done in our lives.
Today, let’s pray and fast for all the community intentions, for the Holy Father, for all the suffering souls in the world and for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
Holy Mary, pray for us! Holy Spirit, teach us to pray!