“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.” Matt 16
Taking up one’s cross is not easy. St. Francis and St. Clare were two saints who practiced self-denial in all aspects of their lives and embraced their crosses.
St. Clare not only took up her cross, she also asked for more crosses. Saint Clare and her fellow religious sisters’ lives consisted of manual labor and prayer. The nuns went barefoot, slept on the ground, ate no meat and observed almost complete silence.
Fasting is one cross that we can embrace on Wednesdays and Fridays. Before we began to fast, many of us disliked Ash Wednesday and Good Friday because we weren’t used to the practice of fasting. Many of us may still dislike these fasting days. However, when we are experienced in fasting, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday become two more days of fasting.
Does this mean that we always embrace the cross of fasting? Or that we will never have difficulties? Of course not. But growth in virtue happens because we practice the virtues until they become easier to practice.
Fasting helps us to grow in virtue. The self-denial of fasting gives us practice at doing without. When we offer the sacrifice of fasting for others, we become the Good Samaritan for those people. Fasting invites the Holy Spirit in to our hearts and souls.
Today let us pray and fast for all the community intentions, for the Holy Souls in Purgatory and for persecuted Christians throughout the world.
Holy Mary, pray for us! Holy Spirit, teach us to pray! St. Clare, pray for us!