R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Teach me your paths, my God,
and guide me in your truth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia. Psalm 25
In Pope Emeritus Benedict’s Lenten message of 2009, he reaffirms the value of fasting: “The Church Fathers, too, speak of the force of fasting to bridle sin, especially the lusts of the “old Adam,” and open in the heart of the believer a path to God. Moreover, fasting is a practice that is… recommended by the saints of every age`.”
Why is fasting recommended by “the saints of every age?” Fasting opens our hearts to conversion and gives weight to our prayer intentions. Fasting strengthens us in resisting temptations, promotes peace in our hearts and peace with one another. Fasting teaches us the difference between wanting and needing and reminds us of the plight of the poor and hungry. Fasting invites the Holy Spirit in to heal our hearts, our relationship with God and our relationship with others.
In keeping with the theme of a “new heart,” Fr. Slavko Barbaric said, “Fasting will lead us to a new freedom of heart and mind.” St. Ignatius of Loyola (quote below) says that fasting gives us a “true freedom of heart.”
Because we can have a new freedom of heart and mind, fasting helps to guide us in the truth. Fasting helps us to embrace the truth rather than run away from it.
Our inclination to sin, however, can be strong. This is why practicing the virtues, engaging in self-denial (like fasting or abstaining from meat or treats) is so important to our own ongoing spiritual journey and to eternal life. Practice makes perfect. If we never practice self-denial, if we are always indulging, we are less likely to grow in the virtues and less likely to embrace the truth.
Today, let us fast and pray for all the community prayer intentions, for those in war-torn countries and for those in abusive relationships.
Holy Mary, pray for us! Holy Spirit, teach us to pray! St. Anthony of Padua, pray for us!
“The purpose of this restraint of the appetite is twofold. It is to avoid excess, disorder and temptation, but also to provide an effective way of praying and living sacramentally, with the totality of ourselves, in an outward sign of the inward grace we desire, which is true freedom of heart.” St. Ignatius of Loyola