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Intro to Fast and Abstinence 101
Concord Pastor ^ | February 25, 2009 | Concord Pastor

Posted on 02/25/2009 12:56:41 PM PST by NYer



There are particular days of fast and abstinence in Lent when the whole Church participates in this Lenten practice as a community of believers. But individual Christians are invited to fast in ways that each determines from his/her own experience and circumstances. The following reflections might be helpful to all of us as we consider fasting in the season ahead of us.

Here's what the Lord says of fasting through the prophet Isaiah, Chapter 58:

Is this the manner of fasting I wish,
of keeping a day of penance:
That a man bow his head like a reed,
and lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own...
If you remove from your midst oppression,
false accusation and malicious speech;
If you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted...

Then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday;
Then the LORD will guide you always
and give you plenty even on the parched land.
He will renew your strength,
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring whose water never fails.
+ + +

In the same spirit, the following advice is convincing and compelling as we face a Lenten fast:


Lent is a season that calls us:

to fast from discontent and to feast on gratitude;
to fast from anger and to feast on patience;
to fast from bitterness and to feast on forgiveness;
to fast from self-concern and to feast on compassion;
to fast from discouragement and to feast on hope;
to fast from laziness and to feast on commitment;
to fast from complaining and to feast on acceptance;
to fast from lust and to feast on respect;
to fast from prejudice and to feast on understanding;
to fast from resentment and to feast on reconciliation;
to fast from lies and to feast on the truth;
to fast from wasted time and to feast on honest work;
to fast from grimness and to feast on joy;
to fast from suspicion and to feast on trust;
to fast from idle talk and to feast on prayer and silence;
to fast from guilt and to feast on the mercy of God.

(Based on a version often attributed to William Arthur Ward)

+ + +

Still not convinced? Spiritual writer Thomas Merton fillets some of our standard Lenten practices with a very sharp blade:
Such exercises as fasting cannot have their proper effect unless our motives for practicing them spring from personal meditation. We have to think of what we are doing, and the reasons for our actions must spring from the depths of our freedom and be enlivened by the transforming power of Christian love. Otherwise, our self-imposed sacrifices are likely to be pretenses, symbolic gestures without real interior meaning. Sacrifices made in this formalistic spirit tend to be mere acts of external routine performed in order to exorcise interior anxiety and not for the sake of love. In that case, however, our attention will tend to fix itself upon the insignificant suffering which we have piously elected to undergo, and to exaggerate it in one way or another, either to make it seem unbearable or else to make it seem more heroic than it actually is. Sacrifices made in this fashion would be better left unmade. It would be more sincere as well as more religious to eat a full dinner in a spirit of gratitude than to make some minor sacrifice a part of it, with the feeling that one is suffering martyrdom.

-Thomas Merton in The Climate of Monastic Prayer
+ + +

The reflections above speak to our individual choices regarding fasting in Lent. Here are the laws regarding our communal fasting as a Church:

ASH WEDNESDAY and GOOD FRIDAY*
are days of FAST and ABSTINENCE

What does that mean?

On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday,
Catholics over 14 years of age
are expected to abstain from eating meat on this day.
Catholics 18 years of age
and up to the beginning of their 60th year
are expected to fast on these days:
taking only one full meal and two other light meals,
eating nothing between meals.
(liquids between meals, however, are allowed).

*Holy Saturday is a day of fast for the elect,
those who are to be baptized at the Easter Vigil.
While fasting is not required of all the faithful,
this is an ancient tradition on this day and a great way
to support those who are to be baptized.

All the FRIDAYS of Lent are days of ABSTINENCE

What does that mean?

Catholics over 14 years of age
Are expected to abstain from eating meat
on the Fridays of Lent.

+ + +

Health concerns and “doctor’s orders”
should take precedence over the practices of fast and abstinence.
Fast and abstinence should never jeopardize one’s physical health.

DISPENSATIONS?
Pastors often receive requests from parishioners asking to be “dispensed” from fast and abstinence for particular social occasions. Of course, it is precisely on such occasions that the self-denial of fast and abstinence might be most meaningful. Such a “dispensation” is not a pastor’s to give. The Church tells us that in this matter individuals have freedom to excuse themselves but that, “no Catholic will lightly hold himself/herself excused from so hallowed an obligation as this penitential practice.”

-ConcordPastor 2009LentPostCollection


TOPICS: Catholic; Prayer
KEYWORDS: abstinence; fasting; lent
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1 posted on 02/25/2009 12:56:41 PM PST by NYer
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...

Some additional inspiration.


2 posted on 02/25/2009 12:57:11 PM PST by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: LiteKeeper; TheBattman

Lenten ping!


3 posted on 02/25/2009 1:00:06 PM PST by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: NYer

Rattlesnake for dinner tonight.


4 posted on 02/25/2009 1:25:28 PM PST by eastsider
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To: NYer

Ugh. I hate fasting. It is a very healthy spiritual practice and nothing makes me more grateful for the amount and quality of food at my fingertips and empathy for those who go hungry. But oh does it suck.


5 posted on 02/25/2009 1:26:36 PM PST by jjm2111
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To: eastsider

Rattlesnake doesn’t count as meat??


6 posted on 02/25/2009 1:26:44 PM PST by Pyro7480 (This Papist asks everyone to continue to pray the Rosary for our country!)
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To: Pyro7480
It's my understanding that the distinguishing characteristic of "meat" in the fasting sense is that the protein comes from a warm-blooded animal. Rattlesnakes are cold-blooded; ergo, they're not "meat."
7 posted on 02/25/2009 1:32:32 PM PST by eastsider
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To: eastsider

I always wondered about that. We always had fish on Fridays, but I didn’t know *why* fish wasn’t considered meat.

We’re having eggs for dinner. :)


8 posted on 02/25/2009 1:44:36 PM PST by Marie Antoinette (Proud Clinton-hater since 1998.)
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To: Marie Antoinette

Surely eggs are okay?


9 posted on 02/25/2009 1:45:14 PM PST by Marie Antoinette (Proud Clinton-hater since 1998.)
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To: eastsider

Pierogis, sauteed in butter with onions, sweet’n’sour red cabbage, and sour cream. I don’t really like fish except for shellfish, and scarfing lobsters every Friday is kinda missing the point.


10 posted on 02/25/2009 1:48:25 PM PST by nina0113 (Hugh Akston is my hero.)
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To: Marie Antoinette
We’re having eggs for dinner. :)
Caviar, I presume : )
11 posted on 02/25/2009 1:49:14 PM PST by eastsider
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To: nina0113
Pierogis, sauteed in butter with onions, sweet’n’sour red cabbage, and sour cream.
Yum, yum, yum!!!
12 posted on 02/25/2009 1:52:54 PM PST by eastsider
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To: Marie Antoinette
Surely eggs are okay?

They are NOW - used to be that's why everyone ate pancakes on Mardi Gras, to use up the eggs before Lent. I wonder if that's part of why baby chicks are associated with Easter - since they couldn't eat the eggs, they'd let them hatch?

My mom has a cookbook with recipes reprinted from the old abstinence directives. It used to be much stricter. This is basically just hungry enough to keep you mindful of what day it is.

13 posted on 02/25/2009 1:53:50 PM PST by nina0113 (Hugh Akston is my hero.)
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To: NYer

Where is the biblical warrant for lent?


14 posted on 02/25/2009 2:18:01 PM PST by LiteKeeper (Beware of socialism in America; the Islamization of Eurabia)
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To: LiteKeeper

Matthew 6: 2-4, 16-18
Matthew 17: 20


15 posted on 02/25/2009 2:22:47 PM PST by Pyro7480 (This Papist asks everyone to continue to pray the Rosary for our country!)
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To: nina0113

Thank you. I went looking around. I have 25 dozen eggs right now (my hens won’t quit until fall) and it would be a shame if we couldn’t eat them! We’re pretty hungry, I hear lots of stomach growling going on. LOL.


16 posted on 02/25/2009 3:09:01 PM PST by Marie Antoinette (Proud Clinton-hater since 1998.)
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To: NYer; Salvation; Mad Dawg

I just discovered the most awesome clam chowder recipe. I wanted to make it for Ash Wednesday and for Fridays. I wanted something simple and easy. Oh my gosh....

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/My-Best-Clam-Chowder/Detail.aspx

The only changes I made were, I used a cup of flour (instead of 3/4) and stirred it with the melted butter for about 4 minutes until it was really thick, then I added 1 pint (2 Cups) of cream and approx 3 Cups of Whole Milk. After everything is combined. I used a stick hand blender on the simmering vegetables and clam juice, then added it to the mik mixture until it was all creamy. I did add about 10 baby carrots instead of the 1 Cup of carrots.

This is a keeper!!


17 posted on 02/25/2009 3:15:33 PM PST by diamond6 (Is SIDS preventable? www.Stopsidsnow.com)
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To: Marie Antoinette
Surely eggs are okay?

Not in the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches where they fast from meat, eggs, oil, and a lot of other foods during Lent. Then again, these traditions are cultural where they have developed dishes over the years that are filled with grains, beans and greens. (I had an egg for lunch ;-)

18 posted on 02/25/2009 3:49:28 PM PST by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: Pyro7480

?? I am afraid I see nothing of Lent in those passages. How do you see that?


19 posted on 02/25/2009 3:53:42 PM PST by LiteKeeper (Beware of socialism in America; the Islamization of Eurabia)
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To: NYer

ugh. The problem with being an uncatechised convert is that I forgot and had bacon and eggs right after noon mass.


20 posted on 02/25/2009 4:41:12 PM PST by the invisib1e hand (right makes might.)
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To: the invisib1e hand

Please see my Lenten recipe!


21 posted on 02/25/2009 5:11:35 PM PST by diamond6 (Is SIDS preventable? www.Stopsidsnow.com)
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To: diamond6

Thanks. Printing, keeping, drooling.

I’m over 59 so I’m excused. But I’m fasting anyway. Just had my “meal”. I was getting hypoglycaemic at Mass. My body is falling apart. Remember, Man, that you are dust — and in your case, pretty old dust. Then I told Fr Scordo, who became a Navy Chaplain after his we provincial prior and is even older than I that with my face putting ashes on my head is an improvement.


22 posted on 02/25/2009 5:14:04 PM PST by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: Mad Dawg

Rarely do I ever rave about a recipe (I’m very critical of my cooking) but this was so good and so easy. I’ll be making it alot during Lent and beyond. If you make it let me know how you like it?

This is almost as good as Claim Jumper clam chowder. Can’t wait till dinner time.


23 posted on 02/25/2009 5:20:11 PM PST by diamond6 (Is SIDS preventable? www.Stopsidsnow.com)
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To: diamond6

Unfortunately, I prolly won’t be allowed to have any. If I say the word “butter” too loudly my cholesterol numbers get all funky.


24 posted on 02/25/2009 5:23:22 PM PST by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: LiteKeeper; NYer; informavoracious; larose; RJR_fan; Prospero; Conservative Vermont Vet; ...

Why must there be a strict Biblical instruction for the specific Lenten acts of penance, prayers or for almsgiving? All three sets of pius practices and spiritual exercise are themselves clearly Biblical, no?


25 posted on 02/25/2009 5:25:14 PM PST by narses (http://www.theobamadisaster.com/)
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To: LiteKeeper

Maybe you ought to say what you think Lent is and why you think we Catholics observe it.


26 posted on 02/25/2009 5:26:52 PM PST by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: Mad Dawg

Have you tried taking Niacin? It brought my cholesterol down significantly?

You could substitute the cream for whole milk, right there you’re removing much saturated fat.


27 posted on 02/25/2009 5:32:05 PM PST by diamond6 (Is SIDS preventable? www.Stopsidsnow.com)
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To: diamond6

Yep. This old corpse is really turning out to be a problem. I had majorly bad reactions to two statins and just normally bad reactions to Niacin. It would be interesting if it weren’t a real drag.


28 posted on 02/25/2009 5:39:10 PM PST by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: Mad Dawg
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

29 posted on 02/25/2009 8:31:44 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

I LOVE Lent!


30 posted on 02/25/2009 8:49:48 PM PST by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: Mad Dawg

Me too!

When we suffer now, we can expect our reward later.

Fasting
Prayer
Almsgiving


31 posted on 02/25/2009 9:05:21 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

Bless you.

Have a great Lent and an Easter that exceeds all your hopes.


32 posted on 02/25/2009 9:09:15 PM PST by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: LiteKeeper
A 40 day period of fasting and spiritual preparation was practiced by Moses (Ex 34:28), Elijah (1 Kgs 19:8), and the Lord Jesus (Matthew 4:2).

Do you seriously want to claim that something practiced by Moses, Elijah, and Jesus "isn't Biblical" because we call it "Lent"?

If we called it the "Moses-Elijah-Jesus 40-day fast," would that make it sufficiently "Biblical"?

33 posted on 02/25/2009 10:24:32 PM PST by Campion
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To: LiteKeeper; Campion
LitKeeper:
What part of this Gospel don't you understand? Christ's own words!

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?"


34 posted on 02/25/2009 10:44:57 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

What in the world does that passage have to do with Lent? What you quoted ought to be true of the life of the believer every day. How do you translate that into a 40 day season (for some of obligation) preceding Easter? That is absurd! You are bordering on eisegesis, and that is unacceptable.


35 posted on 02/25/2009 10:53:28 PM PST by LiteKeeper (Beware of socialism in America; the Islamization of Eurabia)
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To: LiteKeeper

He must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Imitate Christ — for forty days he fasted, prayed.

What’s not biblical about that?


36 posted on 02/25/2009 11:11:09 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: LiteKeeper

I’m quoting directly from the Bible and I believe that is acceptable.


37 posted on 02/25/2009 11:12:28 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: LiteKeeper

Why must there be a strict Biblical instruction for the specific Lenten acts of penance, prayers or for almsgiving? All three sets of pius practices and spiritual exercise are themselves clearly Biblical, no?

{{{I ASK AGAIN}}}}


38 posted on 02/26/2009 2:43:02 AM PST by narses (http://www.theobamadisaster.com/)
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To: LiteKeeper
What you quoted ought to be true of the life of the believer every day.

But is it? Is it true of the life of every believer every day? And what are we to make of its not being true of every believer every day?

What am I to make of its not being true of me every day? If I choose to join my brothers and sisters around the world, or for a time to devote more attention to prayer, acts of discipline, and alsmgiving, what is that to you? If when I do so I think a little of Moses, Elijah, Nineveh and Jonah, the Israelites in the wilderness, and our Lord himself fasting and praying (his whole life was eleemosynary) where is the harm in that?

Paul himself took a vow (Acts 18:18,) which seems to have involved a temporary spiritual discipline (and a coiffure!)

Or is this yet another long way around the barn to get to the "Catholics follow traditions of men" contention, why be indirect?

I note that you have not yet said what you think Lent is, nor what you find objectionable about it. Why don't you lay down your cards and converse as a free adult among free adults?

I am (leaving aside the mystery of election for a minute) voluntarily a Catholic Christian. Voluntarily I take up the obligation to a certain rededication. If this troubles you, I regret your discomfort, but I see nothing wrong in Lent, though of course some who have not yet digested (even a little) the idea of God's gracious love may think they must somehow earn it through things like Lent. So some people have yet to be evangelized. This is news?

39 posted on 02/26/2009 6:07:09 AM PST by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: LiteKeeper

Where can the words Bible, Trinity and Incarnation be found in Scripture?


40 posted on 02/26/2009 7:26:06 AM PST by A.A. Cunningham
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To: LiteKeeper

What is absurd is your thinly veiled agenda.


41 posted on 02/26/2009 7:28:31 AM PST by A.A. Cunningham
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To: LiteKeeper
What you quoted ought to be true of the life of the believer every day.

So making a point of reminding ourselves of it annually is out of line?

I guess since you love your wife every day, you most certainly don't celebrate your wedding anniversary. Right? I mean, to be consistent ...

42 posted on 02/26/2009 7:46:21 AM PST by Campion
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To: diamond6
Please see my Lenten recipe!

If you can find a way to deliver, let me know.

43 posted on 02/26/2009 7:50:55 AM PST by the invisib1e hand (right makes might.)
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To: Pyro7480

With all respect, I see read nothing suggesting lent in those verses.


44 posted on 02/26/2009 7:59:58 AM PST by kailbo
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To: Mad Dawg

I’ll be praying for your health MD!!


45 posted on 02/26/2009 9:32:17 AM PST by diamond6 (Is SIDS preventable? www.Stopsidsnow.com)
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To: the invisib1e hand

Please see post 17.


46 posted on 02/26/2009 9:35:33 AM PST by diamond6 (Is SIDS preventable? www.Stopsidsnow.com)
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To: diamond6
Thank you. It's not really bad, it's just recalcitrant. I'm getting the distinct impression that I might die in 20 years give or take.

Tra La.

47 posted on 02/26/2009 10:09:24 AM PST by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: NYer

Great post!
I have committed a 3 sat Spiritual Food fast as a commitment to GOD to live by the spirit and honor that the food we eat is a gift from GOD and sharing with other’s is the commandment of GOD in sharing his spirit..

That we all belong to GOD’s Family John 3:1-3

Give Generously 2 Corinthians 9: 6-9

Strive for unity and give to other’s


48 posted on 02/26/2009 11:02:33 AM PST by TaraP (The RAPTURE: Separation of Church and State)
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To: Campion

A constant reminder, and institutionalizing it, are two different things. Lent is a time of obligation for many Roman Catholics. And there is no justification in Scripture for doing so. The imposition of this sort of thing on believers, particularly as an obligation, is to encrust the Gospel of Jesus Christ with man-made trappings that I don’t think are pleasing to our Lord. What I do voluntarily is one thing; what I do out of a sense of obligation is something altogether different. And the Apostle Paul addresses those things in his letter to the Colossians.


49 posted on 02/26/2009 1:10:41 PM PST by LiteKeeper (Beware of socialism in America; the Islamization of Eurabia)
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To: LiteKeeper

Being Catholic is voluntary.


50 posted on 02/26/2009 1:14:45 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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