Day 3: February 19, 2021
Ps 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 18-19
Introduction to 40 Day Contemplative Lenten Challenge
Fasting and Prayer
Contemplative and Silent Prayer
The Teresian Method of Meditation
PRESENCE OF GOD
– O Lord, You have created me for yourself. Grant that I may live and die for love of you.
“Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits, and drive all your laborers.” (Is 58:3)
“My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.” (Ps 51:19)
There is something mysterious about fasting. All through the bible fasting was used to change a particular situation. A king might call a fast to bring the people back around to right praise. Jesus, the master of fasting, drives out a demon from a boy that the apostles could not. When they asked Jesus why they could not, his answer was that this kind of spirit could only come out through prayer and fasting. Fasting is essential to the spiritual life precisely because of its ability as a catalyst for change. Often, especially in our culture, we allow our sensual pleasure to rule over us, and on our fast days we carry out our own pursuits. (Is 58:3) Fasting puts us in touch with our finite self. It heightens within us the awareness that we are finite creatures, living by pure grace. In fasting from food, for instance, our sense of our own weakness and vulnerability is increased, leading to humility, a deeper dependence on God, and to a deeper sense of community to others who, because of lack of food, may be fasting, not because of choice, but of circumstance.
Proper fasting, then is a cultivation of love. Love of God and Love of neighbor. This is what He is telling us in Isaiah. This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. While Isaiah list is essentially the corporal works of mercy, we can also look at them as what is hold us back spiritually. What yokes do you have in your life that addict you to wealth pleasure, power, and honor? How can you break those yokes to free you to loving God and each other?
Spend some time today thing reflecting on the yokes in your own life that tie you to your sin and dampens your ability to love. Think of ways you might fast from those things during lent (or longer), substituting instead something from Isaiah’s list of corporal works of mercy. If you already are doing this, think of what else you might add to your spiritual disciplines.
If you do this, you will be better prepared to celebrate the Light of the Risen Lord at Easter, and your own light shall break forth like the dawn, your wounds healed, and the glory of the LORD will be your read guard.
O Christ, Your words form a new canticle; ‘A new commandment I give you.’ And what else does this commandment contain but love and charity. You wish us to love others as You, who are Love, love them! You say to us, ‘Love them as I have loved you, not ‘as I love Myself’, for You have loved us in an act of mercy, meekness and infinite compassion; and you wish us to love others in the same way (St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi). Take our fasting this lent dear Lord as an offering of Love to you. Bless it and return it to us so that we may love others to the best of our ability with mercy, humility, and compassion.
Deacon Joe Mills
on Friday, February 19 at 7:00AM