Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Final Push during Lent: Do something big

I hope your Lent has been going well. Mine has had its ups and downs, but I would say this is one my best so far. I am going to try to do something a little extra for the lsat week of the Lenten Season before the great Feast of Easter, the most important day of the Christian calendar. Easter should truly be a celebratory time. Like the end of a race. You will feel much better if you put your all into the race and did well at the end, than if you did not put any effort throughout. Therefore, let us do something for Christ near the end of Lent. Something that may seem hard. Whatever you are doing now, do a little more.

For example:

If you gave up meat on Fridays, give it up for Monday as well.
If you go to Mass daily, pray the rosary also.
If you donate $20 to church each week, donate $40.

That's one example from each of the 3 Eminent Good Works: Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. Of course the first is technically abstinence from meat, but you can also try eating less as well to fulfill fasting. Perhaps this year you can also consider eating little or nothing for Good Friday. Of course the Church has prescribed minimum requirements, but rather than simply fulfilling those, why not try going above and beyond and doing something difficult.

It would be very hard to beat the Black Fast. This was practiced by Catholics many centuries ago, and sounds very very difficult, almost impossible. It is as follows (source: Catholic Encyclopedia):

In the first place more than one meal was strictly prohibited. At this meal flesh meat, eggs, butter, cheese, and milk were interdicted (Gregory I, Decretals IV, cap. vi; Trullan Synod, Canon 56). Besides these restrictions abstinence from wine, specially during Lent, was enjoined (Thomassin, Traité des jeûnes de l'Eglise, II, vii). Furthermore, during Holy Week the fare consisted of bread, salt, herbs, and water (Laymann, Theologia Moralis, Tr. VIII; De observatione jejuniorum, i). Finally, this meal was not allowed until sunset.

This is a very ancient form of fasting. The sheer difficulty of this fast make is nearly prohibitive for most. I think once you get to this level, you are sacrificing a lot for Christ. Remember though, it is not our suffering, fasting, prayers, or almsgiving that get us to Heaven or make us holy. Only Christ can do this. We must enjoy ourselves to his Passion - why not this Lent?

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