Time for Feasting and Fasting
I’m one of two practicing Catholic in my office. This is never more evident to me, than on Ash Wednesday, and EVERY SINGLE FRIDAY in Lent. On Ash Wednesday, of course, I leave for a little bit of a longer lunch break, and come back with “something on your forehead, Mandi,” and on Fridays, when everyone’s trying to figure out where to go for lunch, I’m trying to figure out what I can order from wherever the group seems to be deciding on. When someone suggests somewhere I have NO chance of finding something small, healthy, and meat-free, I typically mention that I’m fine and opt out of the group lunch. As hard as it is to opt out of the social aspect of going to lunch with your colleagues, Fridays in Lent are a time for Fasting.
From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website: “Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.” Fasting is one way in which we become closer to our Lord, and closer to each other and the Body of the Church. Our Lord fasted for 40 days in the desert, and was tempted by the Devil, himself, during His time in the desert. Matthew 4: 2-4 tells us that, “After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. The tempter came to Him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’ Jesus answered, ’It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”.
The Lord gave us the finest example of fasting, and when the Apostles asked Him about feasting and fasting, He basically tells them there’s a time and place for everything. The time for feasting was for when Christ was here with the Apostles, and their time for fasting came after he left. He tells us there’s a time and place and reason for everything we do. We fast on Fridays specifically because Church Tradition tells us that’s the day of the week on which the Lord died. We fast on Ash Wednesday because it helps us get our minds, bodies, and souls in a somber mood for the start of the season. Lent is a season of penitence, and according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1438), and that it’s “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),”. This is why, in addition to fasting, we also traditionally give something up or volunteer more during Lent.
Reflect: What have you decided to give up for Lent? Have you thought of doing something extra, instead of giving up something? Perhaps praying an extra rosary or volunteering could be part of your Lenten journey this year.
Act: Take the time to prayerfully consider if you’re being called to give up or do something extra this Lent.