Thursday, March 17, 2011


Can you imagine one day being part of the middle class in a safe middle class neighborhood planning on retiring there someday and living out your years playing with your grandchildren perhaps on the same playground equipment with which you entertained your children, and the very next day finding yourself living in what amounts to a third world country, homeless, wondering where you next meal might come from, not having adequate access to health care, and your land possibly polluted beyond use.

It can happen. It happened in Japan this past week. I look out my window and think how fragile it really all is. What suffering there must be there.

Sometimes people ask what is the point of fasting – purposefully bringing difficulty into our lives when it so readily comes of its own accord. It is true that such disciplines might not benefit a person. Like poverty, it itself is not holiness but a pathway to holiness. If you are doing it to look good in a swimsuit as warmer weather comes upon us then it will not do you much good.

If you are doing it simply to be obedient to the Church law, then it does you some good, but not as much as it could. If this is the level you are at and are wondering why it doesn’t do more for you, remember if you pray the same way every time, your rewards will be the same every time.

There are a whole host of positive reasons to fast. One of the most important is self discipline that allows us to live in freedom. We do not need to reward and self-medicate ourselves to get through life. We can truly enjoy earthly delights without being addicted to them. Christ wants us to live in freedom. One way to do that is to freely give up what brings us pleasure to make sure we can. Perhaps if we should ever find ourselves in the situation that our brothers and sisters in Japan find themselves today, we will hold up better than some for we will know that life is survivable without every creature comfort.

Fasting should bring us out of ourselves. Don’t simply fast, let it lead you somewhere. At a minimum if you fast you should have time and saved resources. What are you going to do with them? Will you think of those who are fasting today because they have no choice, those who, if they stay up till midnight will not have a refrigerator to sneak down to have a midnight snack? The extra couple of dollars you have in your pocket from not eating – is it going to just go to something else that distracts you are will it lead you to an act of charity?

True fasting leads to prayer, which leads to charity, which circles back to fasting. Plan the path that leads you to holiness when next you fast.

And be thankful that St. Patty’s Day does not fall on Friday this year.

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