Humbly submit your will to God (Thy Will be done) and consecrate yourself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through Mary and Joseph.
The disciples of John approached Jesus and said,
“Why do we and the Pharisees fast much,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn
as long as the bridegroom is with them?
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast.” No one patches an old cloak with a piece of unshrunken cloth, for its fullness pulls away from the cloak and the tear gets worse. People do not put new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.” MT 9:14-17
Why fast? As I continued to ask others how they discern what to do for Lent, I continued to search for the purpose of Lent. The Catholic Church requires (not optional) for us to fast. Why during Lent? It is to prepare ourselves, looking at the crucified Jesus, for His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. The best answer I can come up with is quite simply because Jesus asks us to. Why? According to Fr. Schmitz, it is because being obedient to Jesus is pleasing to God and He taught us that it atones for sins.
According to Peter Kreeft, it is no longer a straight jacket in which we think God is taking away our fun or doing it because I told you to. It becomes pleasing to detach ourselves, make a self-sacrifice, because we want to please God. Why? We cannot take the nails and suffering from Jesus. God, in His plan for our salvation, made it so His only Son can die and go through a horrible passion, to atone for all of our sins. His love is so great! If it was justice, we should be scourged and die for each one of our sins, we willfully disobey Him, knowing full well that it would hurt our relationship with Him. Who else except someone madly in love with His creation would do such a thing. (Thank you Sarah Carter!) We have a Father who has kept His promises over and over proving His love for us.
We have an opportunity to fast to atone (pay for) our sins in a way that shows we love Jesus for what He did for us. God wants our yes. God wants to give us a way to pay in a very small way compared to the sacrifice Jesus made to show Him we love Him, we fast. In fasting, we slowly regain strength and begin to understand that with God’s grace we can control ourselves. We can sin less. We can grow in holiness. We can fight Satan. We can form habits that conquer sin in our lives, virtue. We can avoid the near occasion of sin by using our intellect to think about what or whom is leading me to sin and avoid it. Most importantly, He just wants us to rest in Him, giving our sin to Him over and over. Allowing ourselves to rest in Him and recognize our sinfulness. If we don’t, we take away the power of the cross.
It requires sacrifice and suffering and at these times we remember to fall to our knees and ask God for help, prayer. The more difficult the fast, the greater the suffering, the more we pray. The more we come to know our Savior and Creator and develop a relationship of love. He knows pain and suffering and He wants us to invite Him into ours. In a growing relationship with our God, we begin to trust in His Words. We begin to understand that He continues to sacrifice Himself hidden behind bread and wine to aid us on our journey. We learn to ask for forgiveness and forgive, we begin to be healed. Oh, what a great burden is lifted when we are unchained from sin and renew our relationships.
Therefore, sacrifice and fasting brings joy. Sacrifice brings the joy of the resurrection and in the resurrection our Christian hope is found. Through God’s grace, healing, and mercy we become stronger and grow in holiness. We realize we can overcome our sin and Satan. With prayer and reflection on Jesus, the Truth, we realize the power of the Cross. When we do not fight and believe, the Cross loses it’s power. It is impossible for humans to be holy and enter heaven, but through the resurrection, through God’s grace, through our yes to God, God makes the impossible possible.
Today’s challenge: Stay true to your fast (Lent, and all Fridays throughout the year, and any time you are struggling with a sin or addiction) for the love of God. Fall to your knees and beg for God’s mercy and begin to atone for your sins. Jesus died to have a relationship with us. One small ray of light entering into the hardest of hearts, can change a soul forever.
Be a servant, become a saint!