1917 Fast Observance Today Through Afternoon*: 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 Through Afternoon**: Full abstinence. No meat or meat products.
**Applicable to all age 7 and over.
Potential Prayer: The Sorrowful Mysteries Rosary.
Potential Fast Intention: Those who are suffering the pain of losing someone close to them.
Potential Give: Console someone suffering or bereaving.
Fasting Inspiration for the Day: Saint Paul, the Apostle, author of 14 of 27 books in the New Testament, founder of at least 14 churches to include the Eastern Orthodox Church, patron saint of missionaries, evangelists, writers, journalists, authors, public workers, rope and saddle makers, and tent makers.
The Apostles Peter (l) and Paul (r)
Saint Paul lived a life of suffering and zeal. He was also a prolific writer. In addition to authoring 14 of the books of the New Testament, he wrote several of the 77 or so references to fasting found in the Bible. His trials, tribulations and sufferings are only partially described in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28:
24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
Since 2 Corinthians was written in 57 A.D. and recorded sufferings Paul had endured up to the time of the writing, the list would encompass the first 21 years of Paul’s 31-year ministry, but would not include the last 11 years of his life and work. Thus, the list would not include:
- The 4th and final year of the 3rd missionary journey.
- Paul’s arrest and treatment in Jerusalem.
- Paul’s two-year imprisonment in Jerusalem.
- Paul’s perilous journey from Caesarea to Rome that included:
- Another shipwreck
- A snakebite
- Paul’s first Roman imprisonment in Caesarea.
- Paul’s “house arrest” imprisonment in Rome.
- The three-to-four year period between the first and second Roman imprisonment.
- Paul’s second Roman imprisonment which resulted in his execution.
Saint Paul suffered a martyr’s death in 67 A.D., when it is believed that the Roman Emperor Nero had Saint Paul beheaded.
Many times we find in the book of Acts that the Apostles “prayed and fasted” together whenever undertaking a task or mission.
Comments of the Day: Reflecting on Saint Paul’s life of suffering make so many of our own lives seem a lot less difficult. But as Saint Paul says, he would much rather have all those sufferings if it allows him to better know our Lord.
If we, for whatever reason, are dealing with sufferings, challenges and difficulties this Lent, let us turn to Saint Paul as another source of inspiration to fight the good fight and keep the faith strong, lively and loving despite them.
Saint Paul, like so many of our early Christian brothers and sisters, experienced innumerable sufferings, but endured to keep the faith and pass it on to so that others may better know our Lord, particularly through the Church. These sacrifices should always give us pause and inspiration in any difficult moment we encounter. As we celebrate Palm Sunday tonight or tomorrow, let us pray and thank all those who helped to build the actual Churches we enter to worship our Lord! For God’s glory!