Ash Wednesday, February 18, 2015
We fear violent people just as the Jews did in Jeremiah because they remind us of our frailty and of our eventual death. Today is Ash Wednesday and we put ashes on our head to remind us that we are dust and of our death to come. Christ told us, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” (Matthew 10:28)Ash Wednesday reminds us as Tennyson prosed in 1842, “To Strive, To Seek, To Find and not to Yield.”GOFFINE’S 1896 INSTRUCTIONS ON LENT.
What is the origin of fasting?Under the Old Law the Jews fasted by the command of God ; thus Moses fasted forty days and forty nights, on Mount Sinai, when God gave him the Ten Commandments ; Elias, in like man ner, fasted in the desert. Jesus also fasted, and commanded His apostles to fast also. The Catholic Church, says St. Leo, from the time of the apostles, has enjoined fasting upon all thefaithful.Why has the Church instituted the fast before Easter?1. To imitate Jesus Christ, Who fasted forty days. 2. To participate in His merits and passion ; for as Christ could only be glorified through His sufferings, so in order to belong to Him we must follow Him by a life answering to His. 3. To subject the flesh to the spirit, and thus, 4, prepare ourselves for Easter and the worthy reception of the divine Lamb. 5. Finally, to offer to God some satisfaction for our sins, and, as St. Leo says, to atone for the sins of a whole year by a short fast of the tenth part of a year.Was the fast of Lent kept in early times as it is now?Yes, only more rigorously; for: 1. The Christians of the early ages abstained not only from flesh-meat, but from those things which are produced from flesh, such as butter, eggs, cheese, and also from wine and fish. 2. They fasted during the whole day, and ate only after vespers, that is, at night.How shall we keep the holy season of Lent with advantage?
We should endeavor not only to deny ourselves food and drink, but, still more, all sinful gratifications. And as the body is weakened by fasting, the soul, on the other hand, should bestrengthened by repeated prayers, by frequent reception of the holy sacraments, attending Mass, spiritual reading, and good works, particularly those of charity. In such manner we shallbe able, according to the intention of the Church, to supply by our fasting what we have omitted during the year, especially if we fast willingly, and with a good intention.