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Lent: Why the Christian Must Deny Himself (with Scriptural references)
Ignatius Insight ^ | Brother Austin G. Murphy

Posted on 02/25/2009 10:14:24 AM PST by NYer

 We still ask ourselves as Ash Wednesday approaches, "What am I doing for Lent? What am I giving up for Lent?" We can be grateful that the customs of giving up something for Lent and abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent have survived in our secular society. But, unfortunately, it is doubtful that many practice them with understanding. Many perform them in good faith and with a vague sense of their value, and this is commendable. But if these acts of self-denial were better understood, they could be practiced with greater profit. Otherwise, they run the risk of falling out of use.

A greater understanding of the practice of self-denial would naturally benefit those who customarily exercise it during Lent. Better comprehension of self-denial would also positively affect the way Christians live throughout the year. The importance of self-denial can be seen if we look specifically at fasting and use it as an example of self-denial in general. Indeed, fasting, for those who can practice it, is a crucial part of voluntary self-denial.

But since we live in a consumerist society, where self-indulgence rather than self-denial is the rule, any suggestion to fast will sound strange to many ears. It is bound to arouse the questions: Why is fasting important? Why must a Christian practice it? Using these questions as a framework, we can construct one explanation, among many possible ones, of the importance of self-denial.

To answer the question "Why must the Christian fast?" we should first note that fasting, in itself, is neither good nor bad, but is morally neutral. But fasting is good insofar as it achieves a good end. Its value lies in it being an effective means for attaining greater virtue. And because it is a means for gaining virtue– and every Christian ought to be striving to grow in virtue–there is good reason to fast.

Some people point out that fasting is not the most important thing and, therefore, they do not need to worry about it. Such reasoning displays a misunderstanding of our situation. But, since the excuse is common enough, some comments to refute it are worthwhile.

Doing Small Things Well

First, while it is true that fasting is not the most important thing in the world, this does not make fasting irrelevant or unimportant. There are, certainly, more urgent things to abstain from than food or drink, such as maliciousness, backbiting, grumbling, etc. But a person is mistaken to conclude that he therefore does not need to fast. He should not believe that he can ignore fasting and instead abstain in more important matters. Rather, fasting and avoiding those other vices go hand in hand. Fasting must accompany efforts to abstain in greater matters. For one thing, fasting teaches a person how to abstain in the first place.

Moreover, it is presumptuous for a person to try to practice the greater virtues without first paying attention to the smaller ones. As Our Lord says, "He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much" [1] and so can be trusted with greater things. Therefore, if a person wants to be able to abstain in greater matters he must not neglect to abstain in smaller matters, such as through fasting.

Finally, there is a subtle form of pride present in the person who says that because something is not very important, he does not need to do it. Whoever makes such a claim implies that he does only important things. But the average person is rarely called to do very important things. Accordingly, each person is more likely to be judged on how he did the little, everyday things. Even when, rarely, a person is called to do a great work, how often does he fall short? All the more reason, then, for a person to make sure that he at least does the small things well. Furthermore, if he truly loves the Lord, he will gladly do anything–big or small–for him. So, in the end, saying that fasting is not the most important thing is not a good excuse for avoiding it.

What, then, is the reason for fasting? To answer this let us first clarify what fasting entails. It involves more than the occasional fast, such as on Good Friday. To be effective, fasting requires disciplined eating habits all the time. There are certainly days when a person should make a greater effort at abstaining from food and drink. These are what we usually consider days of fasting and they must be practiced regularly. But, still, there are never days when a person is allowed to abandon all restraint. A person must always practice some restraint over his appetites or those periodic days of fasting arc valueless. Always keeping a check on his desires, a person develops good habits, which foster constancy in his interior life. So, in addition to practicing days of fasting on a regular basis, a person should continuously restrain his desires, such as those that incline him to eat too much, to be too concerned with what he eats, or to eat too often. [2]

We might, then speak of the discipline of fasting in order to avoid the impression that fasting is sporadic. The operative principle behind the discipline of fasting is simple: to limit yourself to only what is necessary for your physical and psychological health–no more, no less. St. Augustine puts it concisely when he teaches: "As far as your health allows, keep your bodily appetites in check by fasting and abstinence from food and drink." [3] So, fasting is meant only to keep a person's unnecessary wants in check. A person is not– nor is he permitted–to deny himself what is necessary for his health. The discipline of fasting instead asks a person to check his desires for what is superfluous and not necessary.

Realizing True Well-being

Consequently, fasting should not threaten a person's health. And there is no foundation for believing that fasting is somehow motivated by anti-body sentiments. Fasting actually does good for the body by helping it realize its well-being. The body needs to be in conformity with the spirit and this requires such disciplines as fasting. In this way, the body is like a child. Children would never realize their true well-being if their parents never told them "no," but gave in to every one of their desires. In the same way, if a person never says "no" to his bodily desires, his body will never realize its true well-being. That is, the body needs such discipline to be brought into conformity with the spirit. For otherwise, it cannot share in the spiritual blessings of Christ.

This makes perfect sense when we consider that the human person is not just a soul, but is matter as well. A person’s body, too, is to be renewed in Christ. Fasting is one way that a person brings about a harmony between body and soul, so that being made whole he can be one with Christ.

The Christian belief that the body is intimately united to the soul should also make a person suspicious of the opinion that fasting is merely external. External acts stem from the desires of the heart within, as Our Lord says in the Gospel. [4] So, a person's external acts are linked to his interior desires. The external act of abstaining from food and drink, therefore, clearly affects a person internally. It does not permit his desires within to reach fulfillment. Thus fasting has the ability to keep interior desires in check, which is important for improving a person's interior life.

It is true, of course, that a person should be more vigilant over his interior life than over his external actions. He must be attentive to interior motives, desires, intentions, to make sure that his fasting is affecting his interior life as it ought–and not giving rise to pride, anger, or impatience.

In fact, only by considering the interior self, and how fasting can affect it, does one see the high value of fasting. If someone looks only at the external act of eating, and does not consider the underlying internal desires of the heart, then the value of fasting cannot be seen. For, clearly, there is nothing wrong with the very act of eating. Nor do the enjoyments of food and the pleasures of eating, as such, harm a person. The joys and comforts of eating are good. Like all created goods, they testify to the goodness of God, who made them. Therefore, the enjoyment of eating and drinking manifests the goodness of God. A person ought to see God's goodness in the joys of these things, and give God thanks for them. [5] The enjoyment of food can then actually help lift the mind and heart to God. [6]

But by lifting a person's gaze to God, created goods point beyond themselves, to greater joys. Consequently, he who truly enjoys God's goodness in created things, such as food and drink, will not remain attached to them. Rather, he will go beyond them, readily giving them up, in order to enjoy the higher things, which St. Paul says we must seek. [7]

Seek What Is Better

This might lead some to ask: If the enjoyment of eating does me no harm, and can in fact manifest God's goodness, why sacrifice this joy by fasting? That is, why check my unnecessary desires for what is enjoyable? After all, there is nothing wrong with enjoying food. Why, then, if I enjoy having a snack, or eating fine foods, sacrifice these things? Again, they are not bad or sinful.

The answer is: Because it is better. Having a tasty meal prepared just to my liking is good, but it is better to sacrifice such things. Showing why it is better to fast than to neglect fasting will provide the reason why a Christian is expected to fast.

A Christian must be seeking what is better, and not merely trying to avoid what is bad. This is the only way to live a life of continual conversion, to which we are committed by baptism. The Christian must face decisions with the question: "What is the better thing for me to do?" He must not, when he has a decision to make, approach what he is inclined to do with the justification: "Well, there is nothing wrong with doing it." If that is his approach, then he is not genuinely seeking improvement in his life. Spiritual progress becomes impossible.

Ongoing conversion, to which, again, the Christian must be dedicated, involves going from good to better. This conversion is unreachable for him who in his life refuses to give up the lesser goods in order to attain greater goods. Due to fallen human nature, every person is prone to be complacent. Each of us is reluctant to change his ways. But clearly, if a person has not yet reached perfection, there are certainly greater goods for him to realize. Fasting, in many ways, is simply the choice to give up lesser goods for greater ones, to abstain from the joys of food and drink in order to attain greater joys from God. It seeks for more. If a person ever stops seeking for more, then he has stopped seeking God.

Why is it better to fast than not to fast? Again, we said that the enjoyment of food and drink is good. Enjoying food is not the problem. Fasting does not tell a person not to enjoy eating–I think this is impossible–as much as it says not to seek the enjoyment of eating. A person may take the joys of food as they come, and be grateful for them: but he should not pursue such joys.

True, there are legitimate occasions, such as when entertaining guests, where especially enjoyable foods are procured. But this is done for the sake of hospitality and for lifting up the heart and mind to God in thanksgiving. The joys of food and drink are not sought, consequently, for their own sake but for God's glory. Thus, the person is not really seeking the joys of eating and drinking, as such: he uses them only to pass beyond them to God. Hence, he who uses the joys of eating and drinking rightly will readily give them up. Because fasting is better than not fasting, he will deny himself these joys regularly. "Looking to the reward," [8] moreover, he will not often make the excuse that hospitality, or the "need" to celebrate, requires that he allow himself enjoyable foods. In truth, it is more often the case that self-denial and restraint are called for. [9]



Obstacles To Grace

So, it is not wrong, in itself, to seek tasty, enjoyable food: but still a person should not do so. For when a person seeks the enjoyment of eating, his action is tainted with inclinations to sloth, complacency, and self-love. [10] That is, his motives are mixed. For when he seeks the joys of food, selfish inclinations are at work in his heart along with whatever good motives there might be. Now, if a person only looks at the external act of eating or the objective value of enjoying food, he will not see this. But, if he honestly looks into the heart, he will see that sloth, complacency, and self-love are present in the desire for the joys of eating. Having such mixed motives is simply part of our imperfect condition in this world.

These selfish inclinations in a person's heart, which are present when he seeks the enjoyment of eating, are the sort of things that hinder a person's growth in holiness and virtue. To grow in holiness and virtue every person needs God's help–we know that a person cannot do it on his own. As Christ says, "Apart from me you can do nothing." [11] Hence, the help of God's grace is needed to grow in virtue and to live a life of continual conversion. Yet the presence of these inclinations to sloth, complacency, and self-love get in the way of a person's reception of God's grace. They are obstacles to receiving more grace.

Therefore, the Christian, who is dedicated to conversion, must remove these obstacles from his heart, so that he may receive more grace and become a better follower of Christ. A person should not expect God to force his grace on him without his consent. As we know, God chooses to work with a person's cooperation. And, so, he is obliged to work with God to remove these inclinations from his heart as much as possible.

This is done by fasting. For fasting, by checking a person's desires for what is not necessary, teaches him to seek what is sufficient when he eats. When he fasts, he does not seek the enjoyment of food, but is simply seeking what he needs to eat and drink. And since he is no longer pursuing the joys of food, the self-centered inclinations that accompany this pursuit are not allowed a chance to spring up in his heart. A person gives up things he enjoys because in so doing he denies inclinations such as sloth, complacency, and self-love a chance to be active in his heart.

Purifying The Heart

This is why it is better to fast. Fasting removes these obstacles so that being more receptive to God's grace, a person will grow in holiness and virtue. The self-centered inclinations that accompany pleasure-seeking are not directed towards God–therefore, they do not lead the heart to God but away from him. Their presence in the heart creates a divided heart–a heart, which does not completely look to God for its needs. As St. Augustine teaches, a divided heart is an impure heart. [12]

Purifying the heart, then, will involve denying oneself the pursuits of pleasures in things like food and drink. For thus a person protects his heart from the self-centered inclinations that are bound to coexist with these pursuits.

 This provides one answer to the question, "Why must we fast?" (and, by extension, to the question, "Why should one practice self-denial?"). Since, by fasting, a person no longer seeks after the joys of food and drink, the heart is set free to focus more completely on God. By turning away from his concerns for the pleasures of eating, he can turn more wholeheartedly to God. And this, we know is what continual conversion is all about.

By fasting, then, a person turns to God more intently. This is reflected in God's words spoken through the Prophet Joel: "Return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning." [13] Naturally, a person is reluctant to give up through fasting things he enjoys–but by doing so he turns his attention to God and waits for him. He places his trust in him that he will give him the joy he needs–joys "greater than when grain and wine abound." [14] But he has to trust and be willing to persevere through the dry times that will accompany fasting. If he puts his hope in God, however, the Scriptures assure him that he will not be disappointed. [15]

For the sake of his ongoing conversion, then, the Christian must fast. But we might add another, better reason for fasting. Not only does fasting benefit a person's own individual spiritual progress, it also benefits his neighbor.

It is commonly pointed out that fasting can help others by allowing those who fast to increase their almsgiving with the money saved from eating less. But the benefit referred to here is of a different sort. It is due to our being connected with each other through prayer, so that a person's offering of prayer can help others. Now, prayers for others are more effective the more united the person praying is to Christ, since Christ is the source of the benefits gained through prayer. So the more converted a person becomes to the Lord, the more effective his prayers for others: "The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects." [16] And since fasting aids a person's continual conversion, it strengthens his prayers so that they benefit others more. In this way, he can help his neighbor through fasting.

Moreover, this service to his neighbor through fasting is an imitation of Christ. He offered himself on the Cross for others. A person too, in union with Christ, offers himself through the sacrifice of fasting. In fasting, he has the opportunity to join Christ in offering himself for the sake of others. Thus, even if a person's heart were pure and always free from selfish inclinations–as was Christ's–he should still fast–as did Christ. Through Christ he has the chance of helping others through voluntary acts of self-denial. Christian love is, indeed, eager for such chances to serve others.

So, in a very real way that is clearly visible to the eyes of faith, the Christian must fast out of love of neighbor. He is commanded by Jesus to live in his love. [17] This love is the love that compels a person "to lay down his life for his friends." [18] That is, it is the love that compels him to sacrifice his own preferences and desires on behalf of others. And this is what each person is invited to do through fasting– to give up things he enjoys for the benefit of others. And, as we are told, "there is no greater love than this." [19]

There are good reasons then, why a person must practice fasting and develop disciplined eating habits. Fasting and, by extension, self-denial are important for a person's continual conversion as well as for others who need our prayers. So, the Christian should regularly ask himself, "What do I really need? What can I do without?" and consider the advantages of denying himself even things that are not necessarily bad.

A better understanding of the virtue of denying oneself would undoubtedly benefit our society, where one is taught only how to say, "yes" to what one wants and desires. The practice of self-denial provides a humble yet profound way of giving oneself to God and others out of love, thus breaking the tendency to self-absorption. For, as we have said, self-denial is necessary for helping bring about ongoing conversion, which is sought out of love of God: and one restrains oneself and sacrifices one's desires out of love of neighbor. Love, then–real liberating, sacrificial love–is behind voluntary self-denial.



This article was originally published in the February 2000 issue of Homiletic & Pastoral Review.



ENDNOTES:

[1] Luke 16:10.

[2] John Cassian Institutes 5.23.

[3] Augustine Rule 3.1.

[4] Luke 6:45.

[5] 1 Tim. 4:3-5.

[6] The theme of the mind ascending from created goods to God, the Ultimate Good, is common among spiritual writers. The spiritual master, Saint John of the Cross, refers to it in The Ascent of Mount Carmel (trans. Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D., and Otilio Rodrigues, O.C.D., in The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross [Washington, D.C.: Institute of Carmelite Studies Publication, 1979]) 3.24.3-7,3.26.5-7. For a more recent discussion on the subject, see Dietrich von Hildebrand Transformation in Christ (Garden City, N.Y.: Image Books, 1963) 192-193.

[7] Col. 3:1-2.

[8] Heb. 11:26.

[9] For further insights into this subject, see Saint John of the Cross, op. cit.

[10] See Dietrich von Hildebrand In Defense of Purity (New York: Sheed and Ward Inc., 1935) 150-156.

[11] John 15:5.

[12] Augustine The Lord's Sermon on the Mount 2.11.

[13] Joel 2:12.

[14] Ps 4:8.

[15] Rom. 5:5: Ps 22:5.

[16] Jas. 5:16.

[17] John 15:9.

[18] John 15:13.

[19] Ibid.





TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Prayer
KEYWORDS: lent

1 posted on 02/25/2009 10:14:24 AM PST by NYer
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...

Lenten ping!


2 posted on 02/25/2009 10:15:24 AM PST by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: NYer

Again this year I’ve given up self-denial for Lent. LOL


3 posted on 02/25/2009 10:32:42 AM PST by jjones9853
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To: NYer
Abstinence - it's not just for Lent.

CHAPTER II : DAYS OF PENANCE

Can. 1249 All Christ's faithful are obliged by divine law, each in his or her own way, to do penance. However, so that all may be joined together in a certain common practice of penance, days of penance are prescribed. On these days the faithful are in a special manner to devote themselves to prayer, to engage in works of piety and charity, and to deny themselves, by fulfilling their obligations more faithfully and especially by observing the fast and abstinence which the following canons prescribe.

Can. 1250 The days and times of penance for the universal Church are each Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

4 posted on 02/25/2009 10:50:48 AM PST by A.A. Cunningham
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To: A.A. Cunningham

Interesting that the RCC has pretty much declared war on Passover, which is theoretically the precursor to Good Friday (timing issues aside), with that last one.


5 posted on 02/25/2009 12:13:54 PM PST by Buggman (HebrewRoot.com - Baruch haBa b'Shem ADONAI!)
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To: Buggman

When has the Catholic church declared war on Passover. Most of our Catholic traditions, which are ridiculed by other Christians, have some origin in the Jewish tradition. We are of Jewish origin.

On another note I would say self denial is an absolute practical necessity. Given our propensity to eat, drink, smoke, and lust ourselves to death. A little self control is a good thing.


6 posted on 02/25/2009 12:29:12 PM PST by mgist (Thus in Psalm 103, we pray, "Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, hear)
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To: Buggman

Nonsense. You obviously don’t understand the distinction between the Passover of the Jews and the Passover of Christ.


7 posted on 02/25/2009 12:30:13 PM PST by A.A. Cunningham
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To: Buggman

I fail to see what you are talking about. Perhaps you could explain.


8 posted on 02/25/2009 12:30:49 PM PST by Miss Marple
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To: A.A. Cunningham
Hmm . . . the Passover of Christ:

Lamb? Check.

Matzah? Check.

Wine? Check.

Enough of all three that the disciples were having trouble staying awake an hour later? Check.

I don't know what "passover" you think you're celebrating on Good Friday, but if it forgoes the above, it isn't the Passover that Messiah kept, calendrical quibbles aside.

Shalom.

9 posted on 02/25/2009 1:03:05 PM PST by Buggman (HebrewRoot.com - Baruch haBa b'Shem ADONAI!)
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To: Buggman

Indeed it isn’t, and the difference is far from being merely gastronomical. In fact, the early Church ensured that the Christian Pascha never coincides with the Jewish Passover for a reason: two different events are celebrated, the Passion of Christ and the Exodus from Egypt.


10 posted on 02/25/2009 1:11:52 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: Buggman
Those things all prefigure the Mass, and are fulfilled in it. In the Mass, Christ the True Lamb of God is made present to us under the appearances of unleavened bread and wine.

You're criticizing us for giving up the symbol in favor of the reality to which the symbol pointed. It's sort of like complaining that marriage doesn't look like betrothal.

11 posted on 02/25/2009 1:53:05 PM PST by Campion
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To: Campion

I think the term “RCC” should pretty much be an indicator as to where they are coming from. It’s almost like the modern version of “spick”. It never fails to come from a poster with some sort of distorted knowledge of the ominious “RCC”, as defined by Hollywood or other “Christians”.

I do give Evangelical Christians a lot of credit for their apostolic zeal. As a matter of fact, I love it. But the fact that anyone can just pitch a tent and claim to know and spread the word of God is scary. I guess explains a lot of the misinformation.


12 posted on 02/25/2009 2:37:36 PM PST by mgist (Thus in Psalm 103, we pray, "Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, hear)
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To: NYer
To answer the question "Why must the Christian fast?" we should first note that fasting, in itself, is neither good nor bad, but is morally neutral. But fasting is good insofar as it achieves a good end. Its value lies in it being an effective means for attaining greater virtue. And because it is a means for gaining virtue– and every Christian ought to be striving to grow in virtue–there is good reason to fast.

I would disagree with Brother Murphy. Please note the following pieces of scripture on fasting:

It appears from scripture that fasting is a means of humbling oneself before God so that we may not be tempted. It is meant as an act before God that He may cleanse our souls; not to attain greater virtue. We cannot obtain virtue before God.

Fasting, btw, is not “morally neutral”. From these (and other scriptures) we see that fasting is a recognition of our weakness and sole dependency on God to sustain us.

13 posted on 02/25/2009 3:31:32 PM PST by HarleyD (US-Borrowing money from China to pay for abortions in Mexico)
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To: HarleyD

But humility is a virtue.


14 posted on 02/25/2009 3:39:10 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: HarleyD

I think you are misunderstanding his statement. He attempts to explain that (the act)of fasting is neutral but since it gives us virtue, and it is the (virtue) that we strive for, it is good. The passages you posted support that assertion.

I find it interesting how you come to the same conclusion in an attempt to explain your disagreement. Is it the different faith that you disagree with maybe?


15 posted on 02/25/2009 5:16:10 PM PST by mgist (Thus in Psalm 103, we pray, "Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, hear)
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To: mgist
This Lent, live as if Jesus Christ is indeed Lord of your life
Reconciliation, forgiveness, hope – and Lent
Intro to Fast and Abstinence 101
Lent: Why the Christian Must Deny Himself (with Scriptural references)

40 Ways to Improve Your Lent
Everything Lent (Lots of links)
The Best Kind of Fasting
Getting Serious About Lent
Lent Overview

Meditations on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ [Devotional]
On Lent... and Lourdes (Benedict XVI's Angelus address)
Lent for Newbies
Lent -- 2008 -- Come and Pray Each Day
Lent: Why the Christian Must Deny Himself

Lenten Workshop [lots of ideas for all]
Lent and Reality
Forty Days (of Lent) [Devotional/Reflections]
Pope Benedict takes his own advice, plans to go on retreat for Lent
GUIDE FOR LENT - What the Catholic Church Says

Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI for Lent 2008
40 Days for Life: 2008 Campaigns [Lent Registration this week]
Vatican Web Site Focuses on Lent
Almsgiving [Lent]
Conversion Through Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving [Lent]

Feasting on Purple [Lent]
Lent: A Time for Prayer, Reflection and Giving
Denver Archbishop’s Lenten Message: “Restore us as a culture of Life”
Where does Ash Wednesday get its ashes?
Catholic Caucus: Daily Rosary Prayer for Lent

On the 40 Days of Lent General Audience of Pope Benedict XVI
Lenten Stations -- Stational Churches - visit each with us during Lent {Catholic Caucus}
Something New for Lent: Part I -- Holy Souls Saturdays
Reflections for Lent (February, March and April, 2007)
Lent 2007: The Love Letter Written by Pope Benedict

Pre-Lent through Easter Prayer and Reflections -- 2007
Stations of the Cross [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
For study and reflection during Lent - Mind, Heart, Soul [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
Ash Wednesday and the Lenten Fast-Family observance Lenten season [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
Pre-Lenten Days -- Family activities-Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras)[Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
40 Ways to Get the Most Out of Lent! [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]

Lenten Fasting or Feasting? [Catholic Caucus]
Pope's Message for Lent-2007
THE TRUE NATURE OF FASTING (Catholic/Orthodox Caucus)
The Triduum and 40 Days
The Three Practices of Lent: Praying, Fasting. Almsgiving

Why We Need Lent
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI FOR LENT 2006
Lent a Time for Renewal, Says Benedict XVI
Why You Should Celebrate Lent
Getting the Most Out of Lent

Lent: A Time to Fast From Media and Criticism Says President of Pontifical Liturgical Institute
Give it up (making a Lenten sacrifice)
The History of Lent
The Holy Season of Lent -- Fast and Abstinence
The Holy Season of Lent -- The Stations of the Cross

Lent and Fasting
Mardi Gras' Catholic Roots [Shrove Tuesday]
Kids and Holiness: Making Lent Meaningful to Children
Ash Wednesday
All About Lent

16 posted on 02/25/2009 8:29:52 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer
Gospel
Lk 9:22-25

Jesus said to his disciples:
"The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected
by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised."

Then he said to all,
"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?"


17 posted on 02/25/2009 10:36:27 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: annalex; mgist
But humility is a virtue.

But humility is something that you cannot seek. When you think you are humble, then your really not. When others say you are humble, then you immediately become proud and lose it. Humility is a very fleeting thing. It is there when you are most unaware of it and when no one around you recognizes it. It disappears when you recognize it or others remark about it. You can't fast your way to humility and expect it to POP up. It won't happen simply because you want it to happen.

18 posted on 02/26/2009 2:18:58 AM PST by HarleyD (US-Borrowing money from China to pay for abortions in Mexico)
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To: HarleyD
Of course we can seek Humility, pray this everyday and see what happens. There is so much freedom in Humility. Our pride enslaves us and chains us to emptiness.

Litany of Humility

O Jesus meek and humble of heart, Hear me.

Deliver me, Jesus:

From the desire of being esteemed,

From the desire of being loved,

From the desire of being extolled,

From the desire of being honored,

From the desire of being praised,

From the desire of being preferred to others,

From the desire of being consulted,

From the desire of being approved,

Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated,

From the fear of being despised,

From the fear of suffering rebukes,

From the fear of being calumniated,

From the fear of being forgotten,

From the fear of being ridiculed,

From the fear of being wronged,

From the fear of being suspected,

Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I,

That others may be esteemed more than I,

That in the opinion of the world, others may increase, and I may decrease,

That others may be chosen and I set aside,

That others may be praised and I unnoticed,

That others may be preferred to me in everything,

That others may become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should,

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. Amen.

19 posted on 02/26/2009 5:34:42 AM PST by mgist (Thus in Psalm 103, we pray, "Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, hear)
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To: HarleyD

It is true that one cannot just decide to be humble, and that ostentation destroys humility. It has to be a work of prayer as well as fasting. It can also be gained without fasting (sort of like weight can be gained without eating more), but fasting, if undertaken with proper mental attitude, helps. This is why we recommend fasting, and we have examples of Jesus and many saints who also fasted. Seek! I have it on good authority that you shall find.


20 posted on 02/26/2009 11:13:47 AM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: annalex
I must add that the physical aspect of fasting is very good as well. For example, it costs hundreds of dollars for a procedure called hydrocolonic cleansing, which has the same effect of fasting. I've done this procedure and feel an incredible energy after.

Basically the homeopathic medical procedure cleanses your insides, or gives you an internal bath. A lot of junk accumulates within us. The toxic waste slows down our body and immune sytem. Just like sin accumulates and weakens our spirit.

I would also assume that our body chemistry changes while fasting, and enhances our prayers. There is much more to this than meets the eye.

21 posted on 02/26/2009 4:13:21 PM PST by mgist (Thus in Psalm 103, we pray, "Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, hear)
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To: mgist

Fasting shows you how vulnerable you are. It is an object lesson in humility: you don’t just sit and think of how much you depend on the Providence, your stomach tells you.

And, yes, it does something on the mental level. It makes you more alert.


22 posted on 02/26/2009 4:25:11 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: annalex; mgist
It is true that one cannot just decide to be humble, and that ostentation destroys humility. It has to be a work of prayer as well as fasting....This is why we recommend fasting, and we have examples of Jesus and many saints who also fasted.

Our Lord Jesus fasted but was there ever a time when He was not humble...when He was seeking for humility?

But please note what you state in the first two sentences; the first you state that a person cannot just decide to be humble and in the second you state that it must be the work of fasting. Sorry, but foregoing eating is not going to make you humble. In fact, if you want to seek after humility you simply cannot find it. Humility is a chastening of the soul. It is God who humbles us so as to reveal what lies in our hearts.

In my mind there are precious few Christians today who really want God to humble us by revealing to us what is truly in our hearts.

23 posted on 02/28/2009 3:50:28 AM PST by HarleyD (US-Borrowing money from China to pay for abortions in Mexico)
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To: HarleyD; mgist
If you seek after any virtue, humility or any other, if you do so prayerfully, God will give it to you. Fasting is just an accompaniment to prayer, as it is the most direct way of denying self.

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Mt 16:24)

Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. (Lk 11:9)


24 posted on 03/02/2009 12:26:53 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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