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February 20, 1998     The Message
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February 20, 1998

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 9 od is " RICE, S.J. rvice to me -heart, with fasting" reading on Ash meals was the command- with. I am certain in the kitchen that to stay within the I966, the law and the neither had i us anymore. as quickly as we practice of fast- up. Through the '70s our newspapers and articles of Dick etnam War reland fasting Catholics have been realize that we had a and slowly we are of St. Paul/Min- ohn R. Roach 991 urging all as the United States community of Minneapolis effort end to vio- the inspired rea- and we are in world relic:ions. I Kippur; Muslins fast of Ramadan. fasting is rich and Common to all these inspired reasons is the desire to empty ourselves before God, who alone can fill us; the willingness to wait in that emptiness for God to act; and, the com- mitment to finding the res- urrected Jesus in our midst. a profound desire, .... x of his son (2 . COnversilOnrrOw for sin of mastery over and taste of identification ho are forced to fast When Catholics hear the word "fasting," we always join it with food. But Father John Catoir, formerly of the Christophers and now executive director of Eva's Village in Paterson, N.J., has been particularly help- ful in awakening us to the realization that we might be called to a more appro- priate fast: from criticism or anxiety, from depressing thoughts or from resent- ment. The invitation from God might well come in any area where we are filled with ourselves and where we are not at peace. Like most every other Catholic, when we no longer had to fast, I no longer did fast. I was quite unaware of the rich tradi- tion that supported fasting. I watched with puzzlement the protesters who fasted in the '70s and early '80s.. In 1987 I was invited to speak as part of a Lenten series. In my research and reflection, I realized that prayer, fasting and almsgiving are three aspects of the same reality. When I fast, I hollow out my space. m When I pray, I hollow out my time, and m When I give alms, I hollow out my closet and my bank account. They are connected ways to embody the two great commandments: prayer as love of God; fasting as appropriate love of self; almsgiving as true love of neigh- bor. No wonder Jesus groups them togeth- er in Matthew's version of the Sermon Point: are practiced in your faith community? From Readers: as a form of fasting can bring us to our roots, many sharing what we have -- through giving to our food to better the lives of our neighbors. Another way can be a form more informed of our faith and its responsibilities." Jan Slattery, Chicago, Ill. my kids about is not giving up something they weren't plus trying to give up something that can make a achieve." -- Sharon Kincaid, Rudolph, Wis. fast and abstain on Ash Wednesday and abstain from meat of course, fast and abstain on Good Friday." Brenda Cantella, Live Oak, Fla. asks: What do people value about the sacrament of penance? you answer from your experience? publication, please write: Faith Alive/3211 Fourth 7-1100. .  , : ...... i > "When Catholics hear the word 'fasting,' we always join it with food. But... we might be called to... fast from criticism or anxiety, from depressing thoughts or from resent- men t,". ex]plain.Jeauit la ther Ril now: atwttl 1 !.  ing the MCAT exams for entrance to medical school. '; ....... ...... '; -- CNS photo by Bill Wittman on the Mount, the Gospel for Ash the Poor Clares and the Visitation Con- Wednesday (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18). vent, begging their prayers and fasting Gradually, in the last 10 years, I have as well. also come to realize that the more I pray, I do think God takes more seriously the more I fast, the more I give. those who take God seriously, in contrast The fasting I have been called to and to those who fire an occasional spiritual have been able to sustain is a fasting of 60-yard "Hail Mary" pass. solidarity and petition. The word "Lent" means springtime in its Anglo-Saxon roots. This season offers I now fast with my nephew when he the possibility, of becoming a delicious is taking the MCAT exams for entrance springtime for our spirits if we pause to to medical school, .with a young couple ask what form of fasting God is inviting going to Colombia to adopt a baby, with of us, and then pray for the courage to a friend who is having a biopsy to deter- choose that fast this Lent. mine if she has cancer. God knows whether God takes my Fat/wr Rice, a ]esuit, is a spiritual direc- petitions more seriously when I fast. I do tor with Loyola, a spiritual renewal resource know that I couple my fast with calls to in St. Paul, Minn. Food thought ......... .... Fasting is an ancient practice among Christians. "To fast" usually meant eat- ing less -- cutting down on the amount consumed, while "abstaining" meant cutting an item out altogether. Why fast? Recently church leaders have been discussing this. Bishop Anthony Pilla of Cleveland suggested in 1996 that people "might do well to fast from all that seeks to strangle God's life breath within us -- all manner of violence, negligence and addiction; all manner of hurt, harm and bigotry." Another bishop wrote that the reason to fast is "to shake awake our spirit, to see some things we hadn't noticed." That was Bkc, hop Kenneth Untener of Saginaw, Mich. Some Catholics fast for an end to abortions, for world peace, for solutions to community violence. Pope John Paul I1 more than onee   every- where to fast for peace in Bosnia. He suggested in 1994 that one "to revive a Lenten fast" might be to fast for goals -- "for this aim, that p," , Currently the U . bishops are stud  there are ways to revive Fri _- day fasting and abstinence. Why? To counter attacks a hunum life and dignity such as abortion, euthanasia, war, violence and drugs. David Gibson Editor, Faith Alive!