Newsletter for Sunday 25 February 2024

23 Feb

Fasting and Reparation

Lent is a time when we focus especially on prayer, fasting and almsgiving. In times past, Lenten penances were much more rigorous. Today, there are only two fasting days left on the calendar. They are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday if you’re between 18 and 59 years old. If you’re sick or pregnant, there is no requirement to fast. However, if we are wise we will do more than the bare minimum.

In the Old Testament, the prophet Jonah preached to the Ninevites (Jonah 3), who fasted from all food and drink, and put on sackcloth and ashes to make reparation for their offences against God. As a result they were spared God’s punishment. Due to our sins, God has every right to destroy us, and so we need to make reparation for them. Who knows what catastrophes we may be able to avert in our world by fasting and making reparation? This was the message of Our Lady of Fatima. The sins against the unborn alone, who are the most vulnerable in society, demands we do penance and make reparation.

We ought to be aware that the Church teaches that even after our sins have been forgiven in the Sacrament of Confession, God’s justice demands we do penance to make reparation for them. When mortal sins are absolved by the priest, although the eternal punishment of Hell is removed, we still have to make satisfaction for those sins. Sin has a price and so penance must be done. Satisfaction or reparation can be done either in this life or in the world to come, hence Purgatory.

Fasting is not that difficult. If it is difficult it’s because we don’t practice it enough. It means one full meal in the day with two small snacks if needed, and no eating in between. Abstinence is to abstain from meat. All Fridays throughout the year are days of abstinence for those aged14 and above, unless it happens to be a Solemnity, such as Christmas Day. We can also fast from things like TV, social media or the internet.

Why must we fast? Our Lord speaks about fasting in the Gospels and He Himself fasted for forty days and forty nights in the desert (Matthew 4:2). It helps us to order our lower passions. If you can deny yourself something lawful, you will be in a much stronger position to deny yourself something unlawful. It also helps us to atone for our sins. Since sin is an over indulgence, we can begin to repair the damage by under indulging and denying ourselves. Fasting helps us to pray better and to be awake against the snares of the devil. It is interesting that Adam lost his battle with Satan by eating something which God had forbidden. He didn’t fast from the fruit of the tree.

Satan also tried to tempt Our Lord with food by telling Him to turn stones into bread. And He replied, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Be quite sure that during Lent Satan will try and tempt you to give up your fasting and self denial. But let’s call on Heaven to help us remain strong in our resolutions, thereby making reparation for our sins and those of the world.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

Click here to view/download the complete newsletter

Click here to view/download the liturgy for the Second Sunday of Lent

Related Images: