Skip to comments.Lent: A Time to Fast From Media and Criticism Says President of Pontifical Liturgical Institute
Posted on 03/02/2006 6:19:28 PM PST by NYer
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 2, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Fasting today is not just about not eating or drinking, says the president of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute.
Fasting can also include abstaining from radio, television, telephone -- and criticism of others, says Benedictine Father Juan Javier Flores Arcas.
"Our Lent should be like Christ and with Christ," the priest said in this interview with ZENIT on Lent.
Q: What does Lent mean and what is its significance?
Father Flores: It is of course the 40 days that separate us from the Easter triduum of the passion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As the triduum already begins on the afternoon of Holy Thursday with the Celebration of the Lord's Supper, Lent lasts up to this moment, more than 40 days, specifically 46, but Sundays are not counted.
Lent was thought out and planned thinking of penitents who did public penance and needed these 40 penitential days to do so.
It was also created thinking of the catechumens who are to receive the sacraments of Christian initiation on the holy night of Easter and who in the course of 40 days fulfill the last stage of their catechumenal journey.
Q: In what way is Lent today different from what it was before the Second Vatican Council?
Father Flores: Essentially it is the same Lent, with the same ideas, though with the publication of the new liturgical books and the new pastoral situations, the preparation for candidates to receive baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist on Easter night has taken on a new life.
On the first Sunday of Lent they will carry out the rite of the inscription of names and during the third, fourth and fifth Sundays they will carry out the examinations, exorcisms and delivery of the Our Father and Creed, as a means of intense and immediate preparation for the reception of the Easter sacraments.
Thinking of today's catechumens, the liturgical books speak of Lent as a time of illumination and purification. And what is said of the catechumens is applied to all Christians who must allow themselves to be illuminated by the Word of God, so abundant and rich throughout Lent, and they must purify themselves interiorly to reach holy Easter and be totally renewed.
Q: There is talk of fasting and abstinence. Don't you think that today there are other more necessary fasts, such as fasting from watching television, fasting from the telephone?
Father Flores: The traditional Lenten practices, of which the Ash Wednesday liturgy speaks, are fasting, prayer and alms. Needless to say, they have not lost any of their timeliness.
But there are many more fasts than those the Church asks of us on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
The member that sins the most must fast, and each one will know what fast suits him and which he must practice most: media fasting; doing without everything that is superfluous in a Christian's life; the indiscriminate use of the telephone, television, the computer, and of the Internet is superfluous; fasting from that which can be harmful in our conversations and which might injure our brother; fasting from lack of charity and sensitivity, from constant criticism of others, from falsehood and lies, from one's egoism.
The eye that sinned, the mouth that spoke evilly, the hand that acted worse, the foot that went on the wrong path, the heart that sinned, must fast.
Alms make total sense, but not only giving money but also giving of ourselves and overcoming our egoism and our being completely indifferent to those around us.
Prayer more than ever in Lent is full of sentiments of forgiveness and reconciliation. Therefore it must be a penitential prayer, which is inspired in the infinite mercy of God who always treats as a person the one who draws near to him in humility.
Q: In what way does Lent draw the believer closer to the person of Jesus?
Father Flores: Lent draws us near to Christ tempted in the desert, to the Christ who confronts his persecutors, who goes to Jerusalem to suffer his own Pasch; who takes up the cross and carries it through the streets of Jerusalem, also to the Christ of Tabor and, of course, to the Christ of Gethsemane.
And so following in the footsteps of Christ, Christians confront the problems of the man of today, the human deserts, the infinite hungers of our humanity, the Gethsemanes of the countries at war and in conflict, the crosses that men suffer in all parts of the world.
Our Lent must be like Christ and with Christ, with man and for man through Christ.
Man must be saved with that integral salvation of which Pope Benedict XVI speaks in his 2006 Lenten Message, an integral salvation to which Lent in fact leads us taking into account Christ's victory over the evil that oppresses man.
Last year, I banished it all during the 40 days of Lent. In fact, I also turned off the AM talk radio porgrams that fed me a steady diet of dissent. Suddenly, silence permeated the house. I replaced the din with Gregorian and Maronite Chant. The time normally spent listening to Hannity and Colmes was replaced with lenten reflections from Father Corapi or devotionals from my Meditations on the Gospel.
When Lent ended, I realized that the angst, so prevalent in my life, had disappeared. In its place was a serene peace. What began as a lenten practice turned into a daily lifestyle.
Give it a try for a few days, but shoot for 40. All the news you need to know is right here at FR - AND - you can express your own views through posting comments. Fill the void with readings from Holy Scripture or the Stations of the Cross. Pray the Rosary! Abandon yourselves to His love and mercy. Experience peace and freedom.
I listen to Rush and Hannity if I am driving, other than that all I watch on TV is things like the State of the Union. If anything really important happens, I figure I'll hear about it on FR.
I actually got rid of my television set a year ago.
I'm having a little more trouble breaking with radio, although the sacking of Bob Grant and the dismal state of FM are making even that medium less appealing.
Thanks so much for the ping...this article was just what I needed....as many here know, I am not a Catholic, and never have been, but am considering studying the Catholic faith, as I become more and more convinced that it is within the Catholic Faith, that the Truth is to be found....
I watch EWTN yesterday, Ash Wednesday, and found the AshWednesday Service with the Pope, to be an inspirational and lovely service...
Again, thanks for this article...
Bravo!! Was this like the burning of the mortgage? ;-)
I'm truly amazed at the skyrocketing rates for cable tv. When it first surfaced, the salient argument for subscribing was that it was commercial free. Back then, cable cost all of $9.95/month. The price for basic cable service is now close to $50/month which does not include any of the premium channels. The one thing that has changed, though, is that cable tv is now packed with commercials. The only reason I maintain my subscription is for EWTN .... period. Otherwise, like you, the tv would be roasting on my barbeque.
I think it was Archbishop Sheen who said that, if the Catholic faith was really as bad as various people said it was, he would hate it too. There's a lot of misinformation bandied about.
I don't know where you're coming from, but because I came to Catholicism from the Episcopal Church (in 2004), I found this particular book from TAN Books extremely helpful.
It was written by Canon Francis Ripley, who headed the Catholic Missionary Society in England for many years - so it is tailored to the Anglican inquirer. It is a little bit old-fashioned (although chapters have been added for Vatican Council II) and it tells it like it is. No watered-down faith here . . .
Thanks for the info, and the link...
I didn't go that far.
If I want to watch something really interesting I usually try to rent a DVD, which works out well.
I don't think there would be many cable channels that would interest me, even if I still owned a television set.
I have a long-term fondness for rock music, and I normally listen to it for at least an hour every day. But I have sworn it off for Lent. I am restricting my intake to classical and sacred music for the Lenten season. Plus, I am praying the rosary in the car on the way to work every morning thanks to a CD from the Mary Foundation.
I do disengage from the media on a regular basis but I hadn't thought of doing it as a Lenten thing. Thanks.
My wife and I turned off the TV last year for Lent, and everything you said is true. For the first time, we had blessed silence in our home. There was time for prayer and reading and making plans with friends instead of being glued to American Idol and MTV.
Oh yeah, and then we cancelled cable. We still have antenna service, but we don't watch very often and we don't miss all the shows we were "addicted" to.
One of the great lessons in all of this was that I discovered just how much vanity we allow into our lives, and to what end? No one came any closer to God by watching "The Apprentice". Talk radio? Eh. Politics? Deep down, all politicians are the same (okay, I'm sure there are exceptions, but for the most part...)
We don't even have Internet at my house. People think we're nuts. It's just too much of a distraction.
I know where you're coming from. For my birthday in Feb., I received a 60 GB video Ipod to replace my third-generation variety. Very very cool. I can now fit my entire music collection on that thing and I still have 40 GB left...
Of course, I realized I had to promptly give it up for Lent (let's just say I was spending way too much time ripping CD's when I should have been praying).
And frankly, I don't miss it... yet. I threw it in a drawer and haven't thought about it until now.
Detachment from "things" is a beautiful thing.
Beautiful! You may be pleasantly surprised by the peace these small changes bring.
Nice. I'm lucky I don't have one of those. I'd be monkeying with it all the time. I do have 400+ CDs though, most of them rock CDs.
Detachment from "things" is a beautiful thing.
Agreed. It's also nice to replace something base with something transcendent, which was my aim.