Friday, February 15, 2013

Fast with me Friends?

Recall Matthew 4: 2-4 (NAB). Jesus was baptised but immediately following was driven out to the desert and was tempted by the devil:

"He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread." He said in reply, "It is written: One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God."

Jesus was quoting Deuteronomy, and of course the devil knows Scripture well so it was appropriate for Jesus to reply in this way.

"He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your ancestors, so you might know that it is not by bread alone that people live (emphasis mine), but by all that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord." Deuteronomy 8:3

So, during Lent its quite appropriate for us to fast, not only from food but from other things we might be attached to.  When we "tame our senses" in this way, we naturally open up a little window for God to enter. We can feed ourselves with the Living Word of God, right? 

What is your personal experience with fasting, specifically from food for the day? Have you ever seen the fruits?  Several years ago when I was coming back to my faith, I joined with an online Catholic mothers community in fasting from food every first Friday of the month. We ate nothing all day, just drank water. We messaged each other to lift us up in prayer and get through the fast. We had prayer intentions and we were encouraged to fast out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Each hunger pang reminded us why we were fasting. Each hunger pang reminded us to pray! Of the several intentions I had, each one was fulfilled in some way. Miraculous really. Even my then non-believing husband began to join me in fasting on Fridays because he saw what amazing things were happening in my life - how God was working. He became Catholic 2 years later :). 

In actuality, the Catholic Church's definition of fasting is not stringent - you are permitted one main meal and then two lighter meals which together do not exceed a main meal. And really, that fasting specifically from food only applies on two days of the year - Ash Wednesday and Good Friday - though we are encouraged to fast (in different ways) and give alms (time, talent & treasure) during all of Lent. Heck, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast for a month from dawn to sunset and that includes no food, liquid, smoking, sex and swearing. Now that's a fast!  Really, what we are asked to do in fasting during lent is not a stretch, but it IS good for us.

During Lent, I always have good intentions to do lots for Our Lord. To detach myself from those things like Tim Horton's French Vanilla Cappuccino. To rekindle (take up rather than give up) our good habits of Scripture study and put more focus on building family relationships. To do without things we usually think nothing of purchasing - like snack foods, new fabric or clothes, a toy here and there for the kids - and we do without these things as a small way to identify with the poor. To help us count our blessings a little more purposefully. 

And usually I end up failing in most of these areas somehow. Cause I'm weak.

But I soooo look forward to the Easter Feast - and the thought of knowing I have "fought the good fight" as per St. Paul. Nothing worse than reaching Easter and knowing I copped out much of the time.

So here is what I propose.

I'm wondering if any of you are interested in joining me by fasting from food one day a week during lent, on Tuesdays (random choice of day). Its built-in support and solidarity in a very tangible way. I'll post something each Tuesday and we can support each other via the comm-box during the day, if you like.  St.Augustine apparently said that if you want your prayer to reach God, give it wings of fasting and almsgiving (humility and charity) - so that's something we can do. No? 

Let's do this! I know we can, and I know God will honor our efforts!  What do you think?

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