Fasting is one of the three focuses of Lent, along with prayer and almsgiving. But how much fasting should we do? The Church asks very little: only to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. In this meditation we pray about this important topic, considering:
How much Our Lord suffered for us and how we should respond with generosity
The history of fasting in Lent, from the early centuries to the present
Statements from Pope St John Paul II on generosity in fasting
To prepare for his public life, Our Lord spent forty days in prayer and fasting. This is the origin of the forty days of Lent in preparation for Easter, to be spent in prayer, fasting and almsgiving. In this meditation we consider how:
After forty days in the desert Christ rejected the temptations of Satan, showing us how we too can reject temptations to sin.
The word “Lent” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “Lencten”, meaning “springtime”, and if we live Lent well we will have a springtime of new life in our soul.
To live Lent well we should strive to do something specific in the traditional areas of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
The Second Vatican Council, using some words of St Josemaria Escriva, called the Mass the centre and root of the interior life. If we make the Mass our centre and root, we will attend it better and we will unite all our acitivities with it. In this meditation we consider how:
Christ sent the apostles out to the whole world to teach all nations. They went out and in just over three hundred years, amidst bitter persecution of Christians, the Roman Empire declared itself officially Christian. Christendom, a Europe with Christian laws and customs, would last for over a thousand years, and from Europe the faith spread to the rest of the world. Today, however, we see the erosion of Christian values all over the western world. Many people through up their hands in despair, thinking there is nothing they can do. But there is much we can do. In this meditation we use texts of St John Paul II, especially his Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici, to consider how:
We must first live out our faith to the full, seeking true holiness of life
We must do everything we can to ensure that Christian values continue to influence public life in our country
We can fight for the dignity of the human person, for the defence of life from conception to natural death, for marriage and the family, and for a more Christian presence in the media and internet, in education, and in legislation.
In the words of St John Paul II “The history of mankind, the history of salvation, passes by way of the family”. Yet the family today is under attack in many ways. If it is to fulfil its mission, the family can turn to the Holy Family of Nazareth for inspiration and strength. In this meditation we use texts from St John Paul II, Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Pope Francis to consider:
The beauty of the Holy Family, model of all families
The attack on the family in today’s world
The vital importance of the family for the wellbeing of the spouses, the children and society
Some ways the family can model itself on the Holy Family and thus fulfil its mission more effectively.