Tag Archives: lent

Are you keeping the Fast? Will you keep the feast?

Attending to the daily round of the Divine Office the prayers of the psalmist start to make sense and have a certain impact on the soul. Trust in the words of the psalmist is not based on sentiment –that would be a waste of time– but on relationship between faith and reason viz. our relationship with God. We reach out to God and God bends down to touch our hearts. Moreover, the various hymns we sing, especially the ones we frequently sing during a particular liturgical season, begin to have an impact on our spiritual and human life. If they don’t, then we’re wasting our time: empty words lacking conviction and human desire.


Fasting has never made any sense to me unless I made did it with the reasonableness of all of what I believed about the presence of Christ my life, and the relationship I share with Him. Fasting also lacks meaning unless it is rooted in sacred Scripture, of both Testaments, especially and essentially looking to Christ’s own example as a model for me. Now I am a weak man and I rely on grace for much. I suspect this is true not only for me, but for others as well. Furthermore, feasting on sumptuous foods and fine wines is rather meaningless unless there’s been a discipline fast from things that draw our hearts, minds and bodies which opens up our senses for the best the Lord has to offer. Of course, I am not advocating the doing of things that are impracticable, for Aquinas tells of the art of the possible.


A 6th century Latin hymn at Lauds today made me think of fasting given that the Lord had done so when he walked this good earth. The hymn’s author states: “for Christ, through whom all things were made, himself has fasted and has prayed” and then he petitions the Lord: “Then grant us, Lord, like them to be full oft in fast and prayer with thee; our spirits strengthen with thy grace, and give us joy to see thy face.” First we acknowledge the fact that the Lord engaged in fasting to focus His attention on the Divine Will and to ward off temptation. The implication is that we are to imitate the Lord’s example while asking for the grace of strength in an attempt to do spiritual battle with the certain hope of beholding the face of the Redeemer. 


To that end, I was pleasantly surprised to see today’s essay on the First Things blog on fast and feast. Peter Liethart’s essay “Keep the Fast, Keep the Feast” is a superb reflection on the meaning of a Christian’s fast and feast in Lent.


What banquet are you are preparing to eat? Or are you going to eat from the dumpster? What does the fast and feast mean to you? Are you patterning your life according to Christ’s example? In what ways is the Lord preparing you to fully enter into beatitude? Do these Christian practices bring you closer to Christ and the Christian proposal to fully live?

Zeal for your house will consume me: 3rd Sunday of Lent 2009

The gospel proclaimed at Mass today (if you are not doing the 3rd scrutiny) comes from Saint John’s gospel which tells us of the Lord cleaning His Father’s house. Many things can be said about the Lord’s righteous anger, but let’s stick to a few salient points. Consider the strong emotion of the Lord in His attempt to evoke and provoke his hearers to make a substantial change in life. The greater good that the Lord is trying to get us to see is what he sees: the immense zeal (fervor) for God the Father’s house is so important that it moved Him (and it should us) to action; this zeal ought to provoke us to cleanse the temple of our hearts, of our minds, of our habits, of our imagination. What Jesus implores us to do is nothing short of making a total heart and mind. Some things to consider:


Jesus Cleansing temple.jpg-Do we meet the Lord and others in humility?

-Are we faithful to the Lord as are able?

-Do we take time to know what the Lord is saying through the teaching of the Church, his sacrament on earth?

-When someone has a problem in understanding the faith, as we’ve seen recently in Connecticut S.B. 1098 and now with S.B. 899, do we take the time to understand the matter, look for the correct teaching and teach what the Church offers us for the good of our souls and for happiness?

-Are we deaf to the physical and spiritual, culture and social needs of our brothers and sisters?

-In watching the greed of Bernie Madoff unfold, can we might have to overturn the tables of our own greed?
-What are the sacrileges that we cling to so mightily, blasphemies with names like, hate, indifference, unkindness, gossip, unreasonableness, and inertia?

-Do we know what’s happening in our world well-enough to make changes where we stand? Would we be able to stop war, crime, violence, and abuse?
The house of God Jesus cleans is not merely the Temple of long ago; it is our lives, and the areas of our lives that we inhabit, including the Church, politics and society. Is it possible to believe for a moment in the power of Jesus to cleanse the temples of our person? Can we even think of changing our attitudes so totally that we’d never look back to sin? If we don’t have the strength of mind and heart and body and spirit, can we ask for the graces we need carry out the conversion needed to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?


If we really believe the Lord’s promises are true, can we rededicate ourselves to God today and accept the fact that the blood of Lamb -Jesus Christ–really saves us and urges us onward?


The Lord is not merely asking us to rearrange the furniture in our lives which may feel a bit comfortable TEMPORARILY, He’s asking us to change the color of our room, the bedding, the artwork, and the flooring we stand on PERMANENTLY. But the permanence is only possible if we ask for the grace to follow the Lord. Zeal for God’s house will consume me.

Divine Intimacy

We know by experience that we have not sufficient strength in ourselves to bring to a successful completion our chief Lenten duty, which is to die fully to sin in order to live fully in the risen Christ. But Christ himself, before leaving his own, prayed to his Father to preserve them from evil and from the evil one (John 17:15) – from the seductions of the world and the attacks of Satan.


He had taught them to ask: lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:13). Obviously he did not intend that his disciples be spared every kind of temptation and danger, for this would be impossible in this life; besides, God himself permits it to test our virtue, but he wanted to assure them sufficient strength to resist. The evil from which he desired to free them was sin, the only real disaster, because it separates us from God.


Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD

Divine Intimacy

Transfiguration of the Lord, 2nd Sunday of Lent

Transfiguration GBellini.jpg“What does it mean to say: He was transfigured?” asks the Golden-Mouthed Theologian (Chrysostom). He answers this by saying: “It revealed something of His Divinity to them, as much and insofar as they were able to apprehend it, and it showed the indwelling of God within Him.” The Evangelist Luke says: “And as He prayed, His countenance was altered” (Luke 9:29); and from the Evangelist Matthew we read: “And His face shone as the sun” (Matthew17:2). But the Evangelist said this, not in the context that this Light be thought of as subsistent for the senses (let us put aside the blindness of mind of those who can conceive of nothing higher than what is known through the senses). Rather, it is to show that Christ God, for those living and contemplating by the Spirit, is the same as the sun is for those living in the flesh and contemplating by the senses. Therefore, some other Light for the knowing the Divinity is not necessary for those who are enriched by Divine gifts. (Saint Gregory Palamas)

O God, You commanded us to listen to Your beloved Son, deign to nourish us interiorly by Your word, so that, with our spiritual view having been purified, we may rejoice in the Presence of Your glory.

Holy See’s web resources for Lent 2009

Holy See.jpgThe Holy See has a webpage for Lent 2009. Among the offerings online are the papal letter for Lent, the information on the stational churches and selections of sacred music to help people worldwide to live this Lent with a spirit of prayer and reflection. Nicely done!

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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