Lent 2018

DAY 38: Friday, March 23rd (Fasting and Full Abstinence)

1917 Fast Observance Today*: Fasting, maximum food intake is one meal, along with two snacks (that together don’t equate to a meal).  No snacking in between that and no alcohol consumption today.

*Applicable to healthy adults between ages of 21-60 (some exemptions exist – see 1917 Fast: The Specifics)

1917 Abstinence Observance Today**: Full abstinence, meaning that no meat or meat products may be eaten.

**Applicable to all age 7 and over.

Potential Prayer(s): Stations of the Cross; the Sorrowful Mysteries Rosary

Potential Fast Intention: For those who do not examine their conscience daily; that God may compel them to quiet themselves to the point of opening their hearts to the Holy Spirit to search, identify and instruct those in matters of the faith.

Potential Give: Perform a corporal and spiritual work of mercy this Lent.

Fasting Inspiration of the Day: Pope Saint Leo the Great, (b. 400 – d. 461), Doctor of Unity for the Church, the 10th longest reigning Pope of all time.

Saint Leo was “a Roman aristocrat, and was the first pope to have been called “the Great”. He is perhaps best known for having met Attila the Hun in 452 and persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy. He is most remembered theologically for issuing the Tome of Leo, a document which was a major foundation to the debates of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon.”


The Meeting of Leo the Great and Atila,

(fresco painted by Rafael in 1514, Apostolic Palace, Vatican City)

From a Sermon by Pope Saint Leo the Great:

“For what can be more salutary for us than fasting, by the practice of which we draw nigh to God, and, standing fast against the devil, defeat the vices that lead us astray…

For fasting was ever the food of virtue.  From abstinence there arise chaste thoughts, just decisions, salutary counsels.  And through voluntary suffering the flesh dies to the concupiscences, and the spirit waxes strong in virtue.  But as the salvation of our souls is not gained solely by fasting, let us fill up what is wanting in our fasting with almsgiving to the poor.  Let us give to virtue what we take from pleasure.  Let the abstinence of the man who fasts be the dinner of a poor man.  Let us have thought for the protection of the widow, for the welfare of the orphan, for the comforting of those that mourn, for the peace of those who live in discord.  Let the stranger be given shelter.”

Comments of the Day:  Saint Leo strongly advocated the works of mercy toward others so we can show true Christianity.  In his sermon, Saint Leo describes fasting as almost a gateway virtue.  If done well and alongside prayer, it opens up many doors to the spiritual life, and to an increase in the works of mercy.

Corporal Works of Mercy:

  • To feed the hungry;
  • Give drink to the thirsty;
  • Clothe the naked;
  • Shelter the homeless;
  • Visit the sick;
  • Visit the imprisoned;
  • Bury the dead.


  • To counsel the doubtful;
  • Instruct the ignorant;
  • Admonish sinners;
  • Comfort the afflicted;
  • Forgive offenses;
  • Bear wrongs patiently;
  • Pray for the living and the dead.

May the Holy Spirit continue to break open our hearts and instruct our minds as to how we can best perform these works in our lives, this Lent and beyond!

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