Please, Please, Please Fast With Us
outside of Lent. This is unfortunate because the benefits are innumerable.
As we considered the large number of people who have never done an intense spiritual fast, we decided that there is no better way to get acquainted with this timeless treasure than to do it altogether!
My family and I cordially invite you to join us in a 3-day communal fast for the MANY prayer intentions of our beloved mission partners, who we refer to as "Team Carmody."
We'll begin our fast the morning of June 2nd and will continue through the evening of June 4th. If you'd like to join us and many others, we ask that you pray specifically for the following:
- all those experiencing health / medical problems: isolated issues from accidents and injury, routine procedures, chronic / long lasting conditions, rehabilitation, depression and various other mental disturbances, abuse and recovery from traumatic experiences, cancer treatment, dementia, life-changing diagnosis, infertility, and addiction.
- a peaceful resolution to all outstanding legal matters
- the conversion of loved ones ~ that family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers find their way to - or back to - the Lord
- peace and prosperity for all those experiencing difficulty in their businesses or employment situations
- love, unity, patience, mercy, forgiveness, mutual understanding, commitment and joy inside of all relationships ~ especially within families and between spouses
- that those discerning significant life decisions can hear the Lord's voice and have the courage to do whatever He is asking of them
- comfort for those suffering the loss of loved ones and for the repose of the souls of all who have passed away
- an end to the coronavirus pandemic
The standard definition of fasting is to go without food; and while this is reasonable for a single-day fast, it is considered by some as unnecessarily extreme for multiple-day fasts. Many Catholic resources state that fasting entails eating "one full meal and two smaller meals that together do not equal one meal." However, this guideline is a bit misleading because it has been taken out of context. In 1966 Pope Paul VI wrote the Apostolic Constitution Paenitemini in which he addressed the practice of fasting. In that document he gave approval for the consumption of one full meal along with small snacks as needed - TO THOSE FASTING FOR THE FULL 40 DAYS OF LENT. From all I've read, it seems that it was never the pope's intention to redefine the dietary standard for all spiritual fasting; rather, he was simply trying to help people avoid the detrimental side effects that eating only bread for 40 days might have on the average person. Personally, I believe this is something that participants should pray about because only God knows what is appropriate for each person. Whether you eat only bread for 3 days or you choose to have "one full meal and two smaller meals that together do not equal one meal" - remember that the goal is to eat as little as possible while still maintaining physical and mental stability. Regardless of what you eat, please make sure to drink plenty of water! For additional information, see the USCCB's guidelines for fasting: www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/lent/catholic-information-on-lenten-fast-and-abstinence.cfm
WHY DO WE FAST?
We fast because Jesus expects us to. In Matthew, chapter 6, Jesus teaches the people about almsgiving, prayer and fasting, which were considered the three pillars of Jewish piety. During that speech, He says, "WHEN you fast..." which tells me that it is something He expects us to do.
|Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days.|
|Please don't participate in this|
fast if you're just hoping to lose
some weight. This fast is a
dedicated time of pray for those
we love dearly!!
I am certainly no biblical scholar, but as hard as I looked I could only find one reference to fasting that didn't also mention prayer: in Matthew 6:16-18 Jesus tells us that we should maintain a healthy appearance when we're fasting so that others can't detect the sacrifice that we're making. Other than that, every reference I could find to fasting also referred to prayer, suggesting that they be done together.
|Wearing sack cloth and covering|
oneself in ashes was a traditional custom
in Old Testament times.
The Old Testament has no shortage of examples. In Exodus 34:28 we read about how Moses fasted for 40 days and nights, after which he received the 10 commandments. In 1 Kings 21: 25-27 Ahab fasts as a way to humble himself before the Lord. In 2 Samuel 1:12 people fast for one another's needs and in Esther 4:16 the prophetess asks others to join her in a communal fast. Daniel speaks of his fasts in 9:3-5 and 10:3, and in the book of Tobit the archangel Raphael tells Tobit and his wife Sarah that "prayer with fasting is good". The prophet Ezra describes how the whole community fasted and God answered their prayers (8:21-23). In the book of Jonah (3:5) a fast is issued for "everyone, great and small". The prophets Joel (2:12) and Nehemiah (1:4) refer to prayer and fasting, and we see several references in the psalms - 35:13-14 and 69:10 are just two examples.
|St. Thomas Aquinas|
|In tug-of-war both teams can't win... the same|
is true in the battle between our bodies and spirits.
WHAT IS ABSTINENCE AND WHY IS IT AN IMPORTANT PART OF SPIRITUAL FASTING?
Abstinence is the choice to refrain from bodily activities that bring pleasure. Most frequently the term refers to intercourse, alcohol, drugs and food, but when discussing the practice of fasting abstinence can also include activities that are not inherently bad or wrong, but have the potential of distracting us or making us insensitive to Jesus' presence. For example, listening to the radio, watching television, reading novels, having long casual phone conversations, playing games, and participating in hobbies. By denying ourselves the luxury of such distractions, we're able to focus our attention on the Lord. Also, the time spent on such activities can be spent in prayer.
If we were to record how our time is used on any given day we might see that a significant amount is spent preparing and consuming food, as well as cleaning up afterward. During a fast we can and should use that time for prayer or other spiritual activities. I mentioned the value of abstaining from activities which give us pleasure like Facebook, TV, and even novels. If you can resist the temptation of distracting yourself with menial tasks such as weeding the garden or straightening up the garage, you will have even more time to devote to the Lord. You may be wondering what in the world you're supposed to do for 3 days if you're not doing any of your regular activities. Well, here are some ideas:
- Start each day with prayer. Specifically ask Jesus for the grace you'll need to adhere to the fast, abstain from pleasure-seeking activities, and devote yourself to Him. There are several beautiful prayers that you could refer to if desired: https://catholicreadings.org/catholic-prayers/fasting-and-prayer-the-power-of-prayer-and-fasting/?amp
- Read the bible (we recommend lectio divina if you're looking for an idea)
- Listen to and/or sing praise and worship. There are some specific praise songs that I think would bless you during this fast - all of which can be found on YouTube: (1) Here I Am to Worship (2) How Great is Our God (3) Lord, I Lift Your Name on High (4) Great Are You Lord (5) How Great Thou Art (6) 10,000 Reasons (7) Build My Life (8) Holy Spirit You are Welcome Here (9) High and Lifted Up (10) O Lord to You (11) Holy is the Lord (12) Jesus I Adore You
- Listen to an online podcast by Lighthouse Catholic Media
- Pray the rosary
- Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet
- Meditate on the Way of the Cross or the Seven Sorrows of Mary
- Go to confession or perform an extensive examination of conscience and specifically confess your sins to God
- Watch an inspirational speaker/show. Many churches have "Formed" memberships which allow their parishioners access to thousands of digital resources, free of charge. Perhaps you could call your parish office to inquire.
- Attend daily Mass or watch a broadcast of the Mass
- Sit quietly and invite Jesus to come sit with You
- Make a list of 100 things that you're thankful for
- Go to an adoration chapel
- List people by name and talk to Jesus about each one. What specifically does it seem that they need to draw closer to Him?
- Watch the Netflix series "The Bible" and/or "AD" which are incredible dramatizations of the bible. They are both educational and inspirational.
If this is the first time that you're considering an intense spiritual fast, we pray that you have the courage to say "YES". After all, everyone's doing it...just kidding! In all seriousness, if you decide to join us for this 3-day journey of faith we believe that it will be the first of many. Fasting is an incredible way to grow in our faith and intercede for those we love.
We pray that the peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ fill your heart this day.
Karen (Chris, Michael, Anna, Katelyn and Jack)