Skip to content

Cardinal George: Lent 2009, On the fast track

By
3/18/2009 (8 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 (8 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


'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead'

Luke 24:46

Lent Event

Importance

Ash Wednesday

March 1, 2017

Image of Ash Wednesday Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting... continue reading

Palm Sunday

April 9, 2017

Image of Palm Sunday Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels... continue reading

Holy Week

April 9 - 15, 2017

Image of Holy Week On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by... continue reading

Holy Thursday

April 13, 2017

Image of Holy Thursday Holy Thursday is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover... continue reading

Good Friday

April 14, 2017

Image of Good Friday On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week... continue reading

Easter Sunday

April 16, 2017

Image of Easter Sunday Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I calls it the greatest feast, and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter... continue reading

Stations of the Cross

Every Friday

Image of Stations of the Cross Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion... continue reading

Fasting and Abstinence

Every Friday

Image of Fasting and Abstinence For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the... continue reading

Image of What did you give up for Lent? From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year... continue reading

Ascension of Our Lord

Thursday May 25, 2017

Image of Ascension of Our Lord The Ascension of Our Lord, a Holy Day of Obligation, celebrates the day that Christ, in the presence of His apostles, ascended bodily into Heaven. The Ascension occurred on the 40th day of Easter, a Thursday... continue reading

Pentecost

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Image of Pentecost Pentecost Sunday is one of the most ancient feasts of the Church, celebrated early enough to be mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (20:16) and Corinthians (16:8)... continue reading

Image of Lent FAQ's Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple... continue reading

Mardi Gras

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Image of Mardi Gras In France, the people feasted on foods that would be given up during the forty days of Lent. Meats, eggs, and milk were finished off in one day, giving the holiday its French title of 'Mardi Gras' which means Fat Tuesday... continue reading

Image of Transformed by Easter The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community... continue reading

Image of Appearances He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. - Matthew 28:6. Learn more about the Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus Christ... continue reading

Image of Easter Gifts CatholicShopping.com offers a variety of Easter gifts & Easter treats for all ages! Choose a gift for someone special and celebrate the joy of Easter... continue reading

Easter / Lent News

Inspire: Easter Beyond the Octave. Why Do We Celebrate for Fifty Days?

Image of Christ my hope is risen, and he goes before you into Galilee.

While Easter is a Solemnity and an octave feast, it is also a 50 day season until Pentecost.The Season of Easter is not just about His ... continue reading


Reflecting on the Resurrection: Why did Jesus Rise with Wounds?

Image of The empty tomb and the neatly folded burial cloths point to us that Jesus is physically alive.  His crucified body has been transformed.  What lesson is he teaching us by keeping his wounds intact?

What lesson is the Lord teaching us by keeping his wounds intact? Perhaps we can better answer this question by turning to our own wounds. ... continue reading


I Am Dismas and This Is My Story

Image of

As a teenager I ran into someone who introduced me to the finer points of the occupation. We fell into the tried and proven method of ... continue reading


HOLY SATURDAY: The Whole Earth Keeps Silence Watch

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

Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence ... continue reading


On the Friday We Call Good, the Whole World Stands Still Watch

Image of

Today as we contemplate the Passion we also plumb the mystery and meaning of the Church. We are members of His Body. She was born ... continue reading


The Lent and Easter Season... by CatholicOnline.shopping

Never Miss any Updates!

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

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.