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Archive for the ‘Lent’ Category

One of  the theme’s during Lent is that we are called to forgive others.  I saw an ex brother-in-law at my nephew’s wedding a few weeks ago and it was a very cordial gathering. It is weird how a moment in time many years ago a person can think that “he did quite a few awful things to my sister which in my opinion are unforgivable”.  While married to him and for a long time afterwards he treated my sister horribly.  Extremely awful things happened while they didn’t have a set custody arrangement.  There were certainly things that at the time I didn’t think that I would ever forgive my ex BIL for doing to my sister.

Over the past 15-20 years both my brother-in-law and I have changed. Thankfully he has changed for the better over the last 5 or so years.  At my nephew’s wedding my BIL gave an outstanding, heartfelt speech to his son where he acknowledged that he had made mistakes with how he treated my sister.  His speech was so passionate that I doubt there was a dry eye at the reception. I think that I had forgiven him before the wedding but his speech gave me the nudge to talk to my BIL and tell him that we all make mistakes, that I have made mistakes and that I will always consider him my brother-in-law regardless of he and my sister not being together anymore.

Jesus paid the ultimate price and sacrificed his own life to save us, forgive us for our sins. We are called to forgive, forgive even sins which we think are unforgivable.

 

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I found this in a PDF and am passing it on. 

St. John Chrysostom on Keeping a Fast

We have this fast too as an ally, and as an assistant in this
good intercession. Therefore, as when the winter is over
and the summer is appearing, the sailor draws his vessel
to the deep; and the soldier burnishes his arms, and
makes ready his steed for the battle; and the husbandman
sharpens his sickle; and the traveler boldly undertakes a
long journey, and the wrestler strips and bares himself for
the contest.
So too, when the fast makes its appearance, like a kind of
spiritual summer, let us as soldiers burnish our weapons;
and as husbandmen let us sharpen our sickle; and as
sailors let us order our thoughts against the waves of
extravagant desires; and as travelers let us set out on the
journey towards heaven; and as wrestlers let us strip for
the contest.
For the believer is at once a husbandman, and a sailor,
and a soldier, a wrestler, and a traveler.
Hence St. Paul saith, “We wrestle not against flesh and
blood, but against principalities, against powers. Put on
therefore the whole armour of God.” Hast thou observed
the wrestler? Hast thou observed the soldier? If thou art a
wrestler, it is necessary for thee to engage in the conflict
naked. If a soldier, it behooves thee to stand in the battle
line armed at all points.
How then are both these things possible, to be naked, and
yet not naked; to be clothed, and yet not clothed! How? I
will tell thee. Divest thyself of worldly business, and thou
hast become a wrestler. Put on the spiritual armour, and
thou hast become a soldier. Strip thyself of worldly cares,
for the season is one of wrestling. Clothe thyself with the
spiritual armour, for we have a heavy warfare to wage with
demons.
Therefore also it is needful we should be naked, so as to
offer nothing that the devil may take hold of, while he is
wrestling with us; and to be fully armed at all points, so as
on no side to receive a deadly blow.
Cultivate thy soul. Cut away the thorns. Sow the word of
godliness. Propagate and nurse with much care the fair
plants of divine wisdom, and thou hast become a
husbandman. And Paul will say to thee, “The
husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the
fruits. He too himself practiced this art. Therefore writing
to the Corinthians, he said, “I have planted, Apollos
watered, but God gave the increase.” Sharpen thy sickle,
which thou hast blunted through gluttony–sharpen it by

fasting. Lay hold of the pathway which leads towards
heaven; rugged and narrow as it is, lay hold of it, and
journey on.
And how mayst thou be able to do these things? By
subduing thy body, and bringing it into subjection. For
when the way grows narrow, the corpulence that comes of
gluttony is a great hindrance. Keep down the waves of
inordinate desires. Repel the tempest of evil thoughts.
Preserve the bark; display much skill, and thou hast
become a pilot. But we shall have the fast for a
groundwork and instructor in all these things.
I speak not, indeed, of such a fast as most persons keep,
but of real fasting; not merely abstinence from meats; but
from sins too.
For the nature of a fast is such, that it does not suffice to
deliver those who practice it, unless it be done according
to a suitable law. “For the wrestler,” it is said, “is not
crowned unless he strive lawfully.” To the end then, that
when we have gone through the labour of fasting, we
forfeit not the crown of fasting, we should understand
how, and after what manner, it is necessary to conduct
this business; since that Pharisee also fasted, but
afterwards when down empty, and destitute of the fruit of
fasting.
The Publican fasted not; and yet he was accepted in
preference to him who had fasted; in order that thou
mayst learn that fasting is unprofitable, except all other
duties follow with it. The Ninevites fasted, and won the
favour of God. The Jews fasted too, and profited nothing,
nay they departed with blame.

Since then the danger in fasting is so great to those who
do not know how they ought to fast, we should learn the
laws of this exercise, in order that we may not “run
uncertainly,” nor “beat the air,” nor while we are fighting
contend with a shadow. Fasting is a medicine; but a
medicine, though it be never so profitable, becomes
frequently useless owing to the unskillfulness of him who
employs it.
For it is necessary to know, moreover, the time when it
should be applied, and the requisite quantity of it; and the
temperament of body that admits it; and the nature of the
country, and the season of the year; and the
corresponding diet; as well as various other particulars;
any of which, if one overlooks, he will mar all the rest that
have been named. Now if, when the body needs healing,
such exactness is required on our part, much more ought
we, when our care is about the soul, and we seek to heal

the distempers of the mind, to look, and to search into
every particular with the utmost accuracy.
I have said these things, not that we may disparage fasting,
but that we may honour fasting; for the honour of fasting
consists not in abstinence from food, but in withdrawing
from sinful practices; since he who limits his fasting only
to an abstinence from meats, is one who especially
disparages it.

Dost thou fast? Give me proof of it by thy works! Is it said
by what kind of works?

If thou seest a poor man, take pity on him!

If thou seest an enemy, be reconciled to him!

If thou seest a friend gaining honour, envy him not!

If thou seest a handsome woman, pass her by!

For let not the mouth only fast, but also the eye, and ear,
and the feet, and the hands, and all the members of our
bodies.

Let the hands fast, by being pure from rapine and avarice.
Let the feet fast, but ceasing from running to the unlawful
spectacles.

Let the eyes fast, being taught never to fix themselves
rudely upon handsome countenances, or to busy
themselves with strange beauties.

For looking is the food of the eyes, but if this be such as is
unlawful or forbidden, it mars the fast; and upsets the
whole safety of the soul; but if it be lawful and safe, it
adorns fasting.

For it would be among things the most absurd to abstain
from lawful food because of the fast, but with the eyes to
touch even what is forbidden.

Dost thou not eat flesh? Feed not upon lasciviousness by
means of the eyes.

Let the ear fast also. The fasting of the ear consists in
refusing to receive evil speakings and calumnies. “Thou
shalt not receive a false report,” it says.

 

Fasting is about more than food.  Fasting is about saying no to that which will harm our souls.  Fasting is about doing good works and reconciling relationships.  Lent is a time to grow in our faith. 

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crucifixion

Here is part of what Pope Francis spoke on the Via Crucis: 

I do not wish to add too many words. One word should suffice this evening, that is the Cross itself. The Cross is the word through which God has responded to evil in the world. Sometimes it may seem as though God does not react to evil, as if he is silent. And yet, God has spoken, he has replied, and his answer is the Cross of Christ: a word which is love, mercy, forgiveness. It also reveals a judgment, namely that God, in judging us, loves us. If I embrace his love then I am saved, if I refuse it, then I am condemned, not by him, but my own self, because God never condemns, he only loves and saves.

Doesn’t it seem like sometimes God doesn’t react to evil?  The way we think He should? As I was thinking about Pope Francis’ words I could see how they could be applicable in our own lives.  Much of the time we want to be the driver because we believe that we know what’s best for ourselves.  But a good deal of the time we just need to sit back, be a passenger, and let God be the driver.  We need to follow God’s will, not ours. We need to let God take care of a troubled relationship, someone who is sick, an individual who is fighting addiction, a person who has withdrawn from the Faith, or when dealing with an unexpected bump in the road in our own lives.  Jesus died on the Cross to save all of humanity.  Sometimes our reactions can do more harm than good. I believe sometimes we are called to be silent, pray, and trust that God will change a person’s heart and take care of the situation in His good time. 

With my being childless and having a hysterectomy due to my health issues I could be angry at God, but I’m not. Maybe something bad would have happened during my pregnancy if I had become pregnant? While it may have been my will to have been able to have kids it wasn’t God’s will. I am called to trust that God’s will is better for me. Maybe God has called me to a different path? Something that I may not have been able to do if I had kids right now? So even though you may be going through a trial in your life right now or dealing with something unexpected maybe God is preparing a better way for you? Maybe He is leading you in a different direction for a very special purpose? 

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I have been pretty sad today and am struggling.  I was going to write a post on the Holy Thursday readings, on Passover and on Jesus washing His disciples’ feet but I am having trouble with what to say in reflection on the two readings.  I came up with a poem. Didn’t know what to name but here it is.

Today sadness is in the air

I know God is *there*

But the road has been like climbing a mountain

Jesus made the hardest journey of all

Taking the road to Golgotha

In the ultimate act of love

Jesus died on the cross for all of us

Trying to give my pain over to God

In union with Jesus on the Cross

But I’m struggling so bad due to my loss

Some thoughts: The lesson in Exodus 12: 1-8, 11-14 is that God is always there for His people, for those who follow Him. God is there for us when we repent. He is there for us during our troubles. I know this. But for some reason today I feel so empty and down in the dumps today. Part of it may be the medicine I’m on because sometimes I feel like I need to cry but it feels like I can’t cry due to the medicine I’m taking.

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While talking about Lent today I thought, “What is the meaning of Lent and when did it start?”. Since Kevin didn’t know I looked the term Lent up on the internet and what I found was quite interesting.  The word “Lent” originally simply meant the spring season.  It was then used to translate the Latin term Quadragesima which means “forty days” or more literally “fortieth day” and has been used from the time of the Anglo-Saxon period.  Quadragesima was the Latin rendering for the Greek name for what we now call Lent, tessarakoste (fortieth), a word formed on the analogy of Pentecost (pentekoste).

As I continued to read about Lent on the New Advent Catholic site I noticed that from the time of Eusebius and St. Irenaeus to St. Athanasius to the time of St. Gregory in the 6th century there was a no consensus on whether Lent would last forty days or a shorter period of time.  There was also no consensus on the type and timing of fasting among the Church Fathers during this period of time.  At the time of St. Gregory in Rome there were six weeks and six days per week that people fasted, which equaled thirty-six days of fasting.  The medieval writers continued this tradition and described the thirty-six day period, one tenth of three hundred sixty-five days, as spiritual tithing. It wasn’t until a later date that Lent as being a total of forty days starting from Ash Wednesday came into fruition.  This makes perfect sense since the Latin term Quadragesima means “forty days”.

“Some of the Fathers as early as the fifth century supported the view that this forty days’ fast was of Apostolic institution. For example, St. Leo (d. 461) exhorts his hearers to abstain that they may “fulfill with their fasts the Apostolic institution of the forty days” — ut apostolica institutio quadraginta dierum jejuniis impleatur (P.L., LIV, 633), and the historian Socrates (d. 433) and St. Jerome (d. 420) use similar language (P.G., LXVII, 633; P.L., XXII, 475).”

But there was such a wide spectrum of practices regarding Lent and Easter during the first three centuries that the modern scholars nearly unanimously reject the view by some of the Fathers that the forty days fast was of Apostolic origin.  But could the forty day period have been a revival from time of the Apostles? Were the Apostles following Jesus’ example of prayer and fasting in the desert for forty days?

 

jesus-desert

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