Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By

3/18/2009 (7 years ago)

The Catholic New World (www.catholicnewworld.com)

It often takes time to overcome the effects of sin. It's like cleaning up after a hurricane, for sin sweeps away the moral pillars of our life with God. The greatest saints led penitential lives.

Fasting from physical food strengthens our spiritual life, our life with God, because body and soul are united. Fasting is part of a life spent with God; all the prophets fasted, as did Jesus himself.

Fasting from physical food strengthens our spiritual life, our life with God, because body and soul are united. Fasting is part of a life spent with God; all the prophets fasted, as did Jesus himself.

Highlights

By

The Catholic New World (www.catholicnewworld.com)

3/18/2009 (7 years ago)

Published in Lent / Easter


CHICAGO (The Catholic New World) - Of the three penitential practices that mark the Lenten season-- prayer, fasting and almsgiving -- Pope Benedict's Lenten message this year puts a focus on fasting. Why?

We can look at fasting from several angles. Fasting isn't dieting, because the goal is not physical health but spiritual health. Since we are body and soul, however, what happens in the body affects the soul and vice versa. Fasting from physical food strengthens our spiritual life, our life with God, because body and soul are united. Fasting is part of a life spent with God; all the prophets fasted, as did Jesus himself.

Fasting from food leads to control of bodily appetites. It helps train us in submission to God's will. It helps us to avoid disordered attachments and to make a complete gift of all we are to God. Fasting makes us realize again our complete dependence on God.

Fasting is a form of penance, a way of "making up" for the consequences of our sins and the sins of others. God gladly and lovingly forgives the sins of all who repent, but even forgiven sin has consequences. Even though we are sorry for them, our sins harm others and ourselves. This is why the priest, at the end of a good confession, will first absolve the sinner and then give a penance. The purpose of the penance is to heal the wounds our sins have caused, to set right the disrupted moral order of our lives and of society.

It often takes time to overcome the effects of sin. It's like cleaning up after a hurricane, for sin sweeps away the moral pillars of our life with God. The greatest saints led penitential lives, constantly doing penance for themselves and for the sins of others. Just as we pray for others, whether they ask us or not, so also should we do penance for the sins of others, whether they ask us or not. Praying for and doing penance for others are examples of charity, of love of neighbor.

If there were a spiritual gift from God, given through the church, that would make more effective the penance we do for our already forgiven sins, we would consider it an undeserved indulgence from a loving God and a church filled with solicitude for our salvation. In fact, we do call such gifts "indulgences." An indulgence does not give anyone permission to sin, nor does it guarantee "time off" in purgatory; these are ideas born of ignorance or prejudice. Rejection of indulgences is a sign of religious individualism, a denial that the Church mediates our relation to God.

An indulgence, given with the recitation of prayers or the making of pilgrimages or helping someone in need, substitutes for a more protracted form of penance, like spending seven years outside the church door and asking forgiveness of everyone going into Mass. Penances were severe in the first centuries of the church's existence. The church, like an indulgent mother, now offers easier ways to do penance with the same spiritual effect as that flowing from lengthier and more severe penitential acts or practices.

The observance of Lent involves doing penance, and we should take advantage of the indulgences offered in order to increase the spiritual benefits of our penance. But much of the life of penance is marked by the effort, with God's grace, to prevent sin before it happens, to overcome the habits that lead us to sin. As is often suggested, fasting from food should be part of "fasting" from anger, laziness, pride, lust, jealousy and other inclinations to sin.

Voluntary fasting from food also helps us to be brothers and sisters to those who are involuntarily hungry. Many of our parishes offer very simple suppers during Lent, along with prayer and reflection. Money saved by eating less is given to the hungry and those without an adequate share in the necessities of life. Donations to food kitchens that feed the hungry are a way of participating in the Lenten fast. Fasting delivers us from a materialism that blinds us to the needs of others.

Finally, as Pope Benedict reminds us in his Lenten message (see www.vatican. va), "Denying ourselves material food, which nourishes our body, nurtures an interior disposition to listen to Christ and be fed by his saving word. Through fasting and praying, we allow him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God."

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied" (Mt 5:6). Righteousness means being rightly related to God and others. When we do penance for our sins and develop habits of virtue, we become strongly connected to God. Lent places us on that track; observance of Lent leads us along a way that makes us what God most wants us to be: disciples of his divine son.

Sincerely yours in Christ,Francis Cardinal George, OMI,
Archbishop of Chicago




Comments


More Lent / Easter

Did you know the Catholic Church has a birthday? Watch

Image of Pentecost is widely considered the birthday of the Catholic Church.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Happy birthday to the Catholic Church! Happy birthday to you, who are the body of the Church! LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - We're all familiar with our own birthdays, and we celebrate them because they mark the day of the year in which we entered into this life. ... continue reading


8 thought-provoking Easter quotes to inspire Watch

Image of Easter is more than eggs and bunnies.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

We all love to celebrate Easter with brightly colored hard boiled eggs, candy, cute pictures of bunnies and chicks and we all love to gather together to party! Regardless of how you celebrate Easter, don't forget the real reason for the holiday. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


The surprising origins of the Easter Bunny -- it's not what you think! Watch

Image of Rejoice! The beloved Easter Bunny has very Christian origins.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Easter Bunny is a symbol of Easter that is popular in western culture, especially with children. According to folklore, the Easter Bunny hides Easter eggs for children to find on Easter morning. However, the association between a rabbit and the resurrection of ... continue reading


'The Easter message of the risen Christ': Listen to Pope Francis' Easter Mass Watch

Image of Pope Francis celebrated the Easter Mass and focused on Christ and refugees (Reuters).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

On Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016, Pope Francis stood before pilgrims gathered at St. Peter's Square for the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Vatican Radio, the pontiff stood before the packed square to speak of Jesus ... continue reading


Missing The Point of Easter Watch

Image of Alex Basile [not pictured] is the Religion Department chair at Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, NY. He has written nine books for Saint Pauls/Alba House. www.alexbasile.net

By Alex Basile

Author Alex Basile reflects of the true meaning of the Resurrection of Christ and how many Christians overlook the real joy of Easter. In the haziness of the first Easter morning, Mary Magdalene made her way to tomb of her friend and teacher. Fighting back tears and ... continue reading


He Has Truly Risen, We Are Free From Fear Watch

Image of The Tomb is empty!

By Fr. James Farfaglia

With the resurrection of Jesus, the physical is exalted.  When we truly believe in Jesus, we are resurrected in this life because we are freed from the fear and worry that are characteristic of a godless life; we are freed from the unhappiness of a life filled ... continue reading


HOLY SATURDAY: The Whole Earth Keeps Silence Watch

Image of The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all ... continue reading


Holy Saturday: 'Make Sure He's Dead' Watch

Image of God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear

By Fr. Randy Sly

Just as the Chief Priests and Pharisees gathered with Pilate to plan on keeping the tomb sealed and guarded with Christ inside, many today want to place a stone in the entrance of the Church, to keep him inside again. On Holy Saturday we remember that no matter how ... continue reading


Good Friday Reflection on the Logic of the Cross Watch

Image of Benedict says,

By Michael Terheyden

Pope Francis said something during his first general audience that inspired me to reflect on the suffering Jesus endured during his Passion for the sake of our redemption. He said, "Living Holy Week means increasingly entering into God's logic, the logic of the Cross. ... continue reading


Good Friday: The Church Born From the Wounded Side of Christ Pauses at the Cross Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Christ has flooded the universe with divine and sanctifying waves. For the thirsty, he sends a spring of living water from the wound, which the spear opened in His Side. From the wound in Christ's side has come forth the Church, and He has made her His Bride. ... continue reading


All Lent / Easter News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Job 38:1, 12-21; 40:3-5
1 Then from the heart of the tempest Yahweh gave Job his answer. He ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 139:1-3, 7-8, 9-10, 13-14
1 [For the choirmaster Of David Psalm] Yahweh, you examine me and know ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 10:13-16
13 'Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 30th, 2016 Image

St. Jerome
September 30: St. Jerome, who was born Eusebius Hieronymous ... Read More