Friday, July 19, 2013

Fasting and Prayer on Fridays

Today is Friday when we remember the Passion of Our Lord Jesus and all that He endured for each of us.  We were asked by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI a few years ago to fast on Fridays specifically and make reparation for our sins and for the sins of the Church and at this present time we also need to listen to what Archbishop Eamon Martin has asked of us, to fast for the protection of Life in our country.

It is only one day in the week, so for those who are able to do so, we can make that sacrifice in atonement for our sins, to repair the damage done to our Church and to pray for the culture of Life in our country.  If one cannot fast from food because of ill health, then there are other methods of fasting such as turning off the Television and curtailing the use of other forms of secular  and social media.

From the Choose Life 2013 website we read the following:

A valuable suggestion has been made that people would offer their Friday Penances for the intention of protecting the right to life of the unborn and cherishing the sacredness of human life from conception to natural death.

Penance is an essential part of the lives of all Christ’s faithful. It arises from the Lord’s call to conversion and repentance.

We do penance in memory of the passion and death of the Lord, as a sharing in Christ’s suffering, as an expression of inner conversion, as a form of reparation for sin.

The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church’s penitential practice. These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works).  Catechism of the Catholic Church 1438

Some quotes on Fasting 

St. Francis de Sales
If you are able to fast, you will do well to observe some days beyond what are ordered by the Church, for besides the ordinary effect of fasting in raising the mind, subduing the flesh, confirming goodness, and obtaining a heavenly reward, it is also a great matter to be able to control greediness, and to keep the sensual appetites and the whole body subject to the law of the Spirit . . .  [St. Francis of Sales. (1567-1622) Introduction to the Devout Life. Ch. 23 On The Practice of Bodily Mortification].

Bl. John Paul II 
One of the meanings of penitential fasting is to help us recover an interior life. The effort of moderation in food also extends to other things that are not necessary, and this is a great help to the spiritual life. Moderation, recollection and prayer go hand in hand. . . . This principle can be appropriately applied to the mass media. Their usefulness is indisputable, but they must not become the “masters” of our life. In how many families does television seem to replace personal conversation rather than to facilitate it! A certain “fasting” also in this area can be healthy, both for devoting more time to reflection and prayer, and for fostering human relations. [Pope John Paul II, Penitential Fasting Is Therapy for the Soul, 1996]

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Fasting means abstaining from food, but includes other forms of self-denial to promote a more sober lifestyle. But that still isn’t the full meaning of fasting, which is the external sign of the internal reality of our commitment to abstain from evil with the help of God and to live the Gospel . . .

Our Lord Jesus said to St. Faustina
"Outwardly, your sacrifice must look like this: silent, hidden, permeated with love, imbued with prayer. I demand, My daughter, that your sacrifice be pure and full of humility, that I may find pleasure in it (...). You shall accept all sufferings with love. Do not be afflicted if your heart often experiences repugnance and dislike for sacrifice. All its power rests in the will, and so these contrary feelings, far from lowering the value of the sacrifice in My eyes, will enhance it" (Diary 1767).

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