Instead of Live Truly Fast, why not Fast and Truly Live! |
My very dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We are now fully in the season of Lent, and I pray that each of us is doing all that we are capable of to make this a time of penance so that before the Throne of God, we may ask pardon for our personal sins, seek the salvation of our own soul, and then ask God's mercy upon the Church Militant, the Church Suffering, and the entire world.
In my own heart I feel a deep sadness that, over the years since the implementation of the norms of Second Vatican Council II (that is the false) spirit, so much has been lost, watered down, or even discarded. Because of this, my brothers and sisters, our view of the Lenten season is not so much of preparation for the glory of Easter but a time in which we just go on about the routine of our everyday life, with little regard for penance and/or its meaning.
The Second Commandment of the Church is to fast and to abstain on the days appointed. Truly, in the United States (and perhaps throughout the world) the strict fasts prior to Vatican Council II have been relegated to a few: For instance, we are obliged to fast and abstain on Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday. We are to abstain from meat on the Fridays of Lent, which normally are four, depending on the date of Easter in the calendar year. Prior to Vatican Council II, strict fasts were obliged for all the faithful throughout each day of Lent up to midnight on Holy Saturday.
Yes, it was a challenge, but I can remember how much my mother sought to spruce up our meatless meals, and to this day I remember fondly her home cooking which got us through these days of fast and abstinence. I remember my own father, who would go to work in good and bad weather, and walk for miles to get to his office, coming home and having turtle soup and a piece of bread. I also remember that when that midnight hour struck on Holy Saturday, there was within the family, and within me, a sense that I had somehow been purified by Our Lord, because I had obeyed the Commandment of the Church, and had put my whole heart and soul into it.
We have it much easier these days, my dear brothers and sisters, and I believe that the Holy Spirit wants us to make use of the days of fast and abstinence in order to present ourselves before Our Lord in a humble, contrite spirit that begs of Him His Mercy upon our own sinful self. For those who are familiar with the messages given by Our Lady of Medjugorje (we await the Church's final decision regarding these apparitions), Our Lady has called for fast on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday that the world may change its collective heart, and we may change our own heart, giving it over to the Will of God.
Yes, to fast is hard. Yet, we are not involved in hard manual labor. Most of us sit at our computers every day, come home, sit in front of the TV, then go to bed. We do not labor by the sweat of our brows, and with the technology of today, we don't even sweat by the labor of our brain. We have become our own worst enemy, we have become lax, insensitive, and begrudge the few days of fast and abstinence the Church still requires of us as loyal Catholics.
If you are able (health wise) to observe these required days of fast and abstinence, then I would ask you, as I am asking myself, to take upon yourself to fast more often throughout the season of Lent. None of us are going to die because we deny ourselves that fast-food burger, that quick meal done in 60 seconds in the microwave oven, that expensive cup of Starbucks coffee, etc. And while we're talking about an actual fast from food, let's also talk about a fast from some of the routine entertainments we've got at the click of a remote control. Whether you watch movies, news, talk shows, sitcoms, or whatever else tickles your fancy, why not do with less this Lenten season?
Why, because our senses have become dulled over the years by the plethora of TV, videos, etc., that predominate our lives. We have cell phones while we drive, we have headphones plugged into our ears to do what? Keep out the sounds of society going about everyday life, only to provide us with earsplitting sound that is our own personal right?
My dear brothers and sisters we do not have the right to deny God the glory He is due, and it is in our self-sacrifice that He is glorified. We do not have the right to tell God that we just can't fast because life is just too hectic for us to slow down, and we have to grab that burger, buy that coffee, chew down that Danish, etc., or we'll not be able to keep up with the demands of our present day society. In short, my dear brothers and sisters, we all need to "get a life", and that "life" is the spiritual life that can only thrive when we bring our bodily wants into submission to the greater part of us - our soul. We are denying our soul the Divine Right to seek God, to know God, to be alive with God's graces. When our mortal flesh is in control, when we cave in to its constant demands to be fed, relaxed, entertained, etc., we are denying the Divine Right of God to rule in our souls, and thus to have His proper place as our greatest treasure.
Together, we can do this, my brothers and sisters. Let us call out to God for help, and let us be confident in that help. Fast, my brothers and sisters, to the best of your ability, in every way. Make good use of this season of Lent. Live it as if it would be the last Lent that you will ever have. Ready your soul for its ascent to Heaven, and you will find, my brothers and sisters, that the body will stop nagging at you for its worldly wants, and will listen to your soul, which must and should rule your every thought, word, and deed.
May God bless you all this Lenten Season, and may we all become as little children at the foot of the Cross, beholding our Beloved Savior, Who is Perfect, Infinite Love. What a treasure? All we have to do is give up self, and that treasure is Ours!
Your very little sister in Christ who is praying for you and asking your prayers in return,
For past installments by Cyndi Cain, see SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING Archives
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March 20, 2001
volume 12, no. 79
Cyndi Cain's SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING column