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#Fast Fridays in #Lent… Taming my will and not crushing my spirit when fasting

#Fast Fridays in #Lent… Taming my will and not crushing my spirit when fasting

This Lent, I’ve been working on a deeper sense of fasting. Of course, that’s supposed to be between me and the Lord, but I thought I’d share just a few things that I’m learning about myself and that perhaps these things will resonate with you. If not, just move along with your day, don’t let me be a distraction.

So that’s the first thing about fasting: Distraction. So many distractions that can try to pull us away.

Distractions make us want to give up.

If you are fasting on a fast day on bread and water, you suddenly see all the luscious fruit on the countertop from your last grocery shop and you secretly wonder if you don’t enjoy it now, it may go bad by tomorrow. Distraction! Or as you’re preparing the evening meal for others, you decide that maybe a glass of wine would be just what you need. Distraction!! These are the moments when fasting is really a test of your will. Identifying your distractions is helpful.

To decide to stay with your fast is the goal. So to defend your fast against distraction, it’s okay to put the fruit or the wine in another room on a fast day. It’s also okay to plan a recipe with the food you are fasting from today (or for the whole of Lent) that you will cook tomorrow (or on Easter). That way you can think about the gift that food truly is for you as you fast from it today. And you’ll enjoy a richer blessing of it tomorrow or in Eastertide.

Distraction and the temptation to end your fast prematurely will be less likely if you find the fast that works for you — that is, making fasting something truly sacrificial and something that lends to a conversation between you and the Lord, but one that is not negatively impacting those around you. Otherwise, every distraction will equal a fail in your mind, and you might consider skipping your fast all together. Talk to the Lord when you feel distracted and talk to your feet too… move away from the distraction!

The goal here is tame the will and not crush the spirit. And to let your fast be something that you can lift up for love of Jesus.

Here’s something I’ve learned about myself when I am fasting that may be a good example. In the last few weeks, I’m finding I’m less productive work-wise on a fast day. (This is a once a week bread and water fast that I’m doing). Translation: I’m a bit sleepier, slower, and finding that coffee really is my friend. I don’t want to be a grumpy faster or non-productive at work, especially when I have to lead a class or give a presentation. So what to do? If my bread and water fast days occur on a night when I have to teach, etc., I allow a little coffee into my schedule. I have to know myself, and I have to be considerate of those I interact with. I’m still working up to the full on bread and water fasts, but when I need to “on”, I choose to modify the fast. So my bread and water fast days may have additional coffee/tea breaks if needed, especially when I have to interact with others.

If moving my fast day is an option, I might do that, too. So, you might think I’m a slacker. I’m mean, why not just soldier on and keep that fast day as scheduled? Am I not holy enough to do that? Am I cheating or something?

This brings me to the second thing that fasting teaches me: The need to achieve is strong in this one. 

Patience, Not Perfectionism.

Fasting is not about perfectionism. Perfectionism is — A DISTRACTION!!!!!!

Honestly…  I’m also trying to let go of perfectionism. Perfectionism tells me I can do it all and it shows the world I can do it. My goal is to keep this between me and Jesus and not get all self righteous about my performance of this fast or task. Trust me, sometimes it takes more humility for me, and is a greater sacrifice, to change the day and to give up my control of things, than to keep the date I had scheduled. May the Lord be the Lord of my Day. Not me.

Finally, the third point about fasting and distraction… sometimes even delayed gratification is positive and moving you toward giving up full control, and that’s good too.

Delayed gratification is mortifying.

If you’re fasting from, say, television, suddenly it seems everyone you know is talking about the game you missed or the episode of such-and-such that you are now pining to see. The chatter from others, both in person or online, can be a real humbling of our need to part of the in-crowd among friends or colleagues.

(Fortunately, in the land of online streaming and DVR’s we are not really fasting from those things… we are merely post-poning our gratification… for eventually, we may indeed watch what we’ve missed and catch up.)

Certain moments like this remind me that even delayed gratification is worth doing. It is worth something not to live in an on-demand way, to accept rather humbly what comes our way, as if you are waiting for a surprise. You never know what God might send into the empty space of time you create for Him. It gives him the full access (dare I say the remote control access?) to our hearts, rather than us being in control.

Fasting is not a cruel Catholic joke. It’s meant to change us, to change what we depend on. Do I depend on myself or the Lord? If my fast does not have me seeking Jesus, then change it up. Yes, it’s okay to begin anew. To hit the restart button and select a fast that keeps you in closer contact with Christ.

So, for me, fasting is an exercise in giving up control… to say that its not my way or the highway, that I’m good with whatever the Lord is bringing my way today. He is the Lord of all Time, not me. He is Divine Providence, not me.

What does fasting build in me?

Gratitude and generosity, for starters.

I’m thankful for everything that Providence has supplied for me this Lent, and in many other ways.

That gratitude is allowing me to be more generous in giving alms and wanting to do more and give more and more over to Jesus. The more that I can hand myself over to Jesus, the more his Will will take root in me.

I want Jesus separate me from what I’m attached to, from what takes me away from him. And at the same time I humbly pray that I’m never separated from His Will.

:::

#Fast Friday from last week. 

#Fast Friday from two weeks ago: midlife, mid-Lent

#Fast Friday on Confession

Why #Fast Friday in Lent?

:::

Matthew Kelly on Fasting

God Became Man – my latest article at Catholic Digest

God Became Man – my latest article at Catholic Digest

Belief in the true Incarnation of the Son of God is the distinctive sign of Christian faith.” (CCC, 463)

As Catholics, we profess our belief in the Incarnation in the Nicene Creed: Jesus Christ “came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”

The Incarnation is a unique and singular event. Its truth informs the way we view God and ourselves.

Divine condescension

When Jesus arrived on the earth, he changed the way humanity viewed God. In Jesus, God came down from heaven to earth, without compromising his divinity.

The Incarnation of Christ crowned centuries of divine revelation, God’s slow revealing of himself, making himself known to humanity over time. God’s divine communication was now to be known through the Person of his Son. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the Incarnation as “the fact that the Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it” (CCC, 461).

This is the deepest meaning behind our Christmas celebrations.

[T]he Incarnation of the Son of God does not mean that Jesus Christ is part God and part man, nor does it imply that he is the result of a confused mixture of the divine and the human. He became truly man while remaining truly God. Jesus Christ is true God and true man. (CCC, 464)

This holy condescension of God means that we can never accuse God of being absent or lofty or unreachable or inaccessible. The Incarnation—the taking on of flesh in the Virgin’s womb—is the moment whereby the inexhaustible, inexpressible, invisible, omnipotent, and almighty Holy One takes on human visage. The divinity of God shines through a human person now.

At the time appointed by God, the only Son of the Father, the eternal Word, that is, the Word and substantial Image of the Father, became incarnate; without losing his divine nature he has assumed human nature. (CCC, 479)

Divine dignity

Jesus, coming as a human person, changed the way we view ourselves. The Second Vatican Council declared that the Incarnation raises our own human dignity.

He who is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) is himself the perfect man. To the sons of Adam he restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward. Since human nature as he assumed it was not annulled, by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. (Gaudium et Spes, 22)

Humanity now counts the face of God among its own.

Never again may I look at another person, or myself, with disdain or disrespect, for there is an inherent dignity in all.

Read the rest at Catholic Digest.

I’m pleased to be a regular columnist there writing about the beauty and inspiration that comes from the Catechism of the Church. Click here to subscribe to Catholic Digest. 

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This makes me think… Is my identity that of an intentional disciple of Jesus?

Thanks to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for this video of what discipleship can look like in our lives…

The Pink Candle and other Musings – from my Patheos archives…

To the uninitiated, that pink candle at church makes no sense from a decorating point of view. It throws off the symmetry of the other three purple candles in the Advent wreath. Yet, it immediately draws attention.

A common sight in Advent, the pink or rose candle lit on the Third Sunday is a harbinger, a signpost, a little light that stirs the imagination. Something is a little bit different this week . . .

And what are we paying attention to? A respite from purple candles? Um, in a way, yes. But there is a much bigger picture, a broader context than ambience and church décor. Like so many visuals in the Mass, color is just one of the things that corresponds to the liturgical season, always pointing to a deeper truth.

If the purple candles are to remind us of the penitential and preparatory season of Advent, then the pink or rose candle is there to remind us of the soon coming joy of Christmas and the future joy of Christ’s coming again. Therefore, the object of our love and devotion should animate our penance, prayer, and service.

In years gone by, most Catholics learned that the Third Sunday was commonly called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete was translated from the Latin as “rejoice”! Gaudete Sunday gets it name from the opening antiphon and prayers of the Mass that declare: “Rejoice in the Lord always” (“Gaudete in Domino semper”) (Phil 4:4).

This Third Sunday, the Church is harkening to its good news: the Word is made flesh in Jesus, and the Kingdom of Heaven is born in our midst.

The imagery in Sunday’s First Reading from Isaiah, recorded centuries before the first coming Christ, hints at this coming joy.

The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom.

They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song. The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God . . .

Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you . . .

Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; 
they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee (Is 35:1-2, 4, 10).

As always, there is much to meditate on, but the simple phrase that captures my attention as we come to this Sunday with joy is that once-and-future hope that the prophet gives about one day coming back to our true homeland, “crowned with everlasting glory.”

And I wonder if we could envision ourselves on that special Day, would we live any differently than we do now?

After all, rejoicing, as a verb, means it is something that we do.

Why? Because it is something that we Christians are: Joyful.

Or, are we still works in progress in the joy department?

It is here that the Church is giving hints to what our witness ought to be even within a penitential season. While the ransoming of our lives through Christ takes place long before the crowning occurs, such knowledge is a deep well for joy, hope, and the kind of repentance that leads back to joy.

Joy can be our watchword in this season for it reveals the deepest truth about the deepest reality of Christ’s Coming. But even more profoundly, that he has come and will come for me. And you. This joy is personal as well as corporate.

(Read the rest over at Patheos…)

The F.U.N. Quotient… having fun at work edition…

Honestly, I went a bit weak in the knees watching these angles.

And just in case you needed something more lighthearted…

This makes me think… about the divine face, the incarnation…

The Divine Image

by William Blake (1757-1827)

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

 

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is God, our father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is Man, his child and care.

 

For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.

 

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

 

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew;
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.

This makes me think… the indispensable relationship of Jesus to the Church

“The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the preaching and prayer of the apostles, on the authority that was entrusted to them by Christ himself.  St Paul writes to the Christians at Ephesus: “You are no longer strangers or sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus being the cornerstone” (Eph 2: 19-20); that is, he compares Christians to living stones that form an edifice that is the Church, and this edifice is founded on the apostles, who are like columns, and the cornerstone that carries it all is Jesus himself. Without Jesus the Church cannot exist! Jesus is the foundation of the Church — the foundation! The apostles lived with Jesus, they listened to his words, they shared his life; above all they were witnesses of his death and resurrection. Our faith, the Church that Christ willed, is not based on an idea; it is not based on a philosophy. It is based on Christ himself.”

-Pope Francis-
General Audience, October 16, 2013.

The F.U.N. Quotient…. make it a happy day!

I love this not only because I’ve visited Notre Dame in Paris multiple times, but I’m admiring the folks who braved the cold last winter to do this! Warms the heart! Love all the religious who are spreading their joy, too! H/T to Kathy Schiffer for sharing.