May Almighty God forgive us our sins and bring us to everlasting life. Amen
Mt. 5:38-42 Teaching about Vengeance
Vindictiveness and vengefulness these are the kind of feelings that contributes to the escalation of violence. This may look perfectly alright in a society that is fiercely jealous of its possession. When something is exacted, a corresponding value must be paid. It has no room for forgiveness. The peace that ensues from such rigid possession rest uneasy and insecure.
This may be the reason why Jesus proposes a new way of seeing and evaluating what justice means. He wants us to embrace the violence of others and transform it with our meekness and gentleness. Now this calls for a real strength of the spirit and extraordinary self-discipline. Violence coming from violent people if faced head on with violence will not solve the problem. It will only postpone it to erupt again at a later time. Whereas violence can be transformed if the violent heart finds understanding and the willingness to suffer for his or her transformation. And once they forsake violence, we multiply the presence of people with goodwill. Let this be our silent revolution to rid the world of violence. Let our strength lie not in force but in love.
I Say . . .
With the situation the Philippines and the other parts of the world face, where violence strikes hard, and war seems the means of communication. I can’t help but think of the many victims of hatred, of racism, of religious idealism which terrorizes the human heart. So many of us are victims of our own false understanding of peace, of power, of unity.
When will our effort of peace and unity be heard, be seen, be real in a world wounded by our own wounds. The cycle of violence will never stop. The cycle of evil will never cease to devour human hearts unless I (we) choose to stop the cycle from within. Unless I (we) choose to recognize that I am victim and I am perpetrator – the hurt I caused to others is the pain I feel within which I want to be healed but unable to find a better way to desire it.
Healing is a process which we have to go through inside out. Eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth has been understood in a different light. I must believe that when God instructed this, wants Israel to understand the sacredness of life. That even the offense of a slightest degree must be rendered in full account, thus, making us steward of our own self and our neighbor- to protect.
Healing is a grace. A process only I (you) can enter in. Humility to accept our own woundedness is the beginning of wisdom.
All have been wounded. Let us not add up to the generations to come. Let’s end the war outside by taming inside
My sincerest apology to my friends for failing to keep my blogs, i really have a bad internet connections. thanks alot!
©Daily Gospel 2017, Claretian Communications Foundation, INC. (Claretian Publication, Quezon City Philippines)
If the words in the title are relatable to you, this post is for you. I have suffered from all of the above. There were points in my short life thus far that I would sit in my bed and wish I wouldn’t wake up the next day. There are days when I’ve felt lower than dirt and I couldn’t even bring myself to make eye contact with another human being.
I overthink everything. The simplest of tasks can be made into a mountain of responsibility by my mind. I have ruined so many potential relationships due to my mindset and my tendency to overthink. I always went searching for a solution. Unfortunately, I convinced myself that everyone else in the world had this elusive answer that I could never find myself.
I was in a relationship not too long ago and I would often find it amazing that it…
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Lord, your glory in Christ we have seen, full of goodness and full of grace: In Christ let us live anew. Fill us with his love, and all men shall see the fruits of your victory.
The Almighty has planted his seed in the earth: He tended well the grain and he waits for rebirth.
The Almighty has ground all the grain for the feast: He made it into flour, and he waits for the yeast.
The Almighty has given hi body for man: He broke for us the bread, and he waits like a lamb.
The Almighty was given a crown made of thorn: It pierced him till he bled, and he waits: do we morn?
The Almighty did suffer and evil destroy: He died to ease our pain, and he waits for our joy
©Christian Prayers: Lord, Your Glory in Christ We Have Seen
To keep the law is a great oblation, and he who observes the commandments sacrifices a peace offering. In works of charity one offers fine flour, and when he gives alms he presents his sacrifice of…
Source: First Step to Lent
MANILA, Feb. 21, 2017— Anti-death penalty advocates aren’t giving up easily if the controversial measure gets passed into law.
Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the CBCP Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, on Monday said the Supreme Court will surely be their next battle ground.
“We will go to the Supreme Court. We will exhaust all these legal means available because we believe that it is unconstitutional. It is cruel. It is inhumane,” said Diamante during the Tapatan media forum at Aristocrat Restaurant in Manila.
Along with other prison rights groups, he said, studies are now being conducted in order to build a strong case against the capital punishment.
He said they are considering at least two options on how to challenge the death penalty before SC— either through a death-row convict or through lawmakers who ratified the country’s international treaty obligation against it.
According to him, filing through lawmakers may be more practical since they can easily invoke the violation of the country’s commitment to the United Nations’ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
“The argument could be since the country has already signed the treaty, a senator can easily claim that he/she is affected since he/she was among those that ratified it. Therefore, they can file a case before the SC,” explained Diamante.
On the other hand, anti-death penalty advocates can also wait for the “test case” involving a death row convict.
“So that the case won’t be dismissed, there has to be a victim. In that sense, we can do it when a person convicted and penalized with death penalty files a case to the SC and say that it is unconstitutional,” Diamante said.
Aside from the High Court, he revealed that another plan is bringing the issue to the international community since the Philippines signed the ICCPR.
“We are seeking the opinion of the international community. The Philippines cannot simply withdraw unilaterally. It has repercussions. And the international community is very active in making pronouncements,” he added. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)
image : google search images
Who among us would rejoice when hurt? Or hopeful in the midst of death?
I can’t help but think of the many martyrs in the Catholic Church. I recalled how the first Christians sung, in the movie Quo Vadis, awaiting their turn to be eaten alive by the lions. Or the many unnamed martyrs who fell victims of hatred- religious or ethnic, culture or race- yet stood courageously and defended their faith [the bombings and tortures experienced by our brothers in all parts of the world, whose concerns should be ours, mine.]
Ironically, Catholics don’t rejoice over suffering yet when given the chance to witness rejoices willingly as their eyes are fixed not on this world but of the glory awaiting them. They, who will inherit the kingdom of God because of being persecuted for righteousness’ sake, the glory we rarely [seriously, never] think of.
We fashion on mundane glory. And, none of us, can deny this inevitable and indispensable truth. No one walks on this earth unperturbed of hunger for glory [glories, i may add]. However, I can’t deny the salient reality that there are men and women who rises above human glory.
These are men and women who never exhibited extraordinary holiness or heroism, nevertheless, are soaked in the reality of life and brought it to perfection through their ordinary love and faithfulness inspite their weakness and sinfulness.
No one so sinful that he/she can’t be holy [and may be raised to sainthood].
Saints are people like you and me, sinful, weak yet fixed in their goal.
Sept. 28 – Feast: St. Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, martyr
(images: google images web search)
Whenever I come home for a short homevisit, my father gathers the family to pray the holy rosary at 9pm.
My parents are not that so-called very strict religious, my grandparents most probably do, but not them. They live out their faith simply but i believe profound and sincere.
We hear mass on Sundays as a family. We pray the rosary at past six in the evening. And begs, as we kneel before them ( parents and elderly at home), the night blessings as a custom in my paternal grandparents.
Growing up back in my early teens at ’90s,it did not dawn on me, how great this family tradition was. I was growing up and “doing” this kind of things except for the night’s blessing, was a bit tiring, at some other nights less fervent and sincere at prayer. But i have always appreciated the support and.encouragement my parents would give when i am being asked to join the church’s activities specially the “barangay” a Marian activity during the Month of May where the Blessed Virgin is being transferred from one house to another everynight. I love doing this!
Reflecting on my childhood years, I guess this is how my parents introduced me to love Mary. Not on a adult-imposing ways but child-like-ways: enjoy, learn, love.
My parents will not insist us to pray when “we dont want to.” They leave space for us children to be children once in a while. Prayer was not impose but gently taught.
As we prayed the rosary today, i got so struck. I felt so blessed. I felt awed when my 7 years old niece led the 5th mystery of the rosary and how she sincerely and seriously responded “Lord, have mercy and Pray for us” during the Litany of the Virgin Mary.
Filled with gratitude to God, that i could only gaze at my parents and offer them back to Him. It was this moment that i deeply appreciate my parents way of rearing us up in faith. SIMPLE. PROFOUND. ENJOY. LOVE.
well, I guess, im chronologically advancing in age as i can fully and.truly appreciate an old and well-known saying that expresses a general truth, “old wine tastes great.”
Our life has been shaped by the hustles and busyness of our many concerns with our life, ministries/apostolate. Many at times, we have forgotten what really matters in life. Most often, we drag ourselves to death to be able to accomplish or achieve a dream or ambition we so longed for, or a plan/project we hoped for but, in the end, only to realize in the greater scheme of our life it is useless, worthless, or to say the least, did not even help us to become a better person God has intended us to be.
This is one of the many reasons why at a certain crossings in our lives we feel empty. After all the stupendous labours and works we end up experiencing that dead-end feelings. Life becomes “is this all that I can do or is this all that matters” We become lost in our own world. It seems our life-compass has gone, I could imagine, from left to right swinging speedily. We begin to raise questions such as: where am I going? What choices should I take? Life from where I am now is meaningless, where is my joy? Where is my place on earth? etc..
It may take a while to have a felt-knowledge (with the grace of God) experience to be able to surrender to the great mystery of God’s love. It takes a lot of humility and poverty to come before the Lord Jesus and just bask in His love for us- for you. It demands nothing but our openness to accept the truth that the Lord Jesus came to be one with us, came for you and not for the things that you can do for him.
It is in this light that I would like to share with you one of the notes I have in my retreat. Whether you are a religious, a priest or married or single, the 10 Principles For Life Pattern outlined below will surely speak to you personally as it did to me.
PRINCIPLES FOR LIFE PATTERN (OF A RELIGIOUS)
( Adapted from W. Breuning and K. Hemmerle’s “Ten Principles for a Priest’s Life Pattern”)
- How I live as a religious, *(priest or married or single person) is more important than what I do as a religious, priest or married or single person
- What Christ does through me is more important than what I do by myself
- It is more important for me to live in union with my religious community *(family/workplace/parish works/company) than to be alone and absorbed in my work
- It is more important to work united with my fellow workers than to do the maximum number of jobs all by myself
- It is more important to concentrate on a few points and to influence others than to be hurried and incomplete in everything
- Joint action is more important than isolate action, no matter how perfect. Thus cooperation in work is more important than work, “communion” more important than action
- The cross is more important than efficiency; it is more fruitful
- The love I put into my work, however big or little, is more important than the quantity and result of my work.
- Openness to the whole (religious community, parish, diocese, universal Church, *workplace or ministry) is more important than a particular interest, no matter how important that may be.
- To be rooted in prayer and holiness is more important than to be successful and efficient in apostolic and ministerial life.
Principles for Life Pattern of a Religious – notes from Fr. Rod Salazar, SVD
*not included in the original notes
The Dash Poem
(by Linda Ellis)
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end.
He noted that first came the date of her birth
And spoke of the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend out dash.
So think about this long and hard;
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.
So when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?
I dedicate this space for Fr. Rod Salazar, SVD who had been my spiritual guide during my 8 days retreat. And for bringing to front the ancient call to holiness. Thanks too, for this heart-warming poem.
Somewhere are places where we have really been: dear spaces of our deeds and faces- scenes we remember as unchanging because there we changed. (W.H Auden, In Transit)
There is Only Time for Loving
(PV 2011 / inspired from Luke 1:46-55) Music by: Sr. Teresita Estrellita Orlino, SPC
- I will sing with all my heart and praise the Lord. My soul delights and magnifies my Savior, for He is pure and unbounded in His I am blessed for God has done great things for me
- In His greatness He has shown His mighty arm, He has confused the proud in their inmost thoughts and has cast down the powerful from their thrones but with me has found favor to raise the poor.
- All good things He has given to the hungry He sent away the rich-poor, humbled, empty. But has confirmed His meek servant Israel and the favor I found made love manifest
- Glory be to the Father and to the Son. Glory be to the Spirit, the Paraclete. May my heart’s magnificat forever sing, to thy praise I live the Gospel and proclaim
I am your handmaid, Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word. Who am i? What have I to merit my God’s love?
As we commemorate the feast of Annunciation, may i share with you our song during our Perpetual Vows in 2011 inspired from the gospel of St. Luke “The Magnificat”
The gift of vocation to the religious life or priesthood is God’s gift. It is a sheer gift, a grace. But, this gift entails responsibility and mission. It is never for oneself but for others, it is service rather than self-preservation.
Religious Life is not a life apart from the wider Catholic community but a participation in its common life. Yet, they belong to the Lord to whom they have voluntarily consecrated themselves in love and freedom.
The experience of God’s love is the ultimate norm and basis of Religious Life. It is He who loved first.
May you find in Mary, the Mother of God the perfect example of poverty of spirit.
A Blessed Feast of the Annunciation
A mother (widow) raises 10 children, all become priests or nuns except one, who became a Bishop! This is a picture of all the siblings with Pope John XXIII Beautiful! The Scheerer family – 1 Bishop, 6 Priests, 3 Dominican Nuns.
In a milieu where vocations are stifled by worldly cares. Photo such as this, reminds us that vocations start in the family.
The family is the seedbed of vocations, who germinates love for God and a life of service for and with God through one’s neighbor.
5 Cs in voting
Over the past decade, the Catholic bishops have made three calls to voters: to form circles of discernment, to engage in principled partisan politics, and to exercise their right and duty to vote for candidates who work for the common good.
Forming circles of discernment, in basic ecclesial communities or any other grouping, is one way to ensure that the individual can listen to other perspectives and arrive at a more balanced and collective decision regarding pressing issues and choice of candidates.
Engaging in principled partisan politics means that Christian voters should first clarify their own principles in the light of Gospel values. Then they can enter the process of discernment and form their choices of individuals as well as of political parties.
What then is the common good? The social teaching of the Church describes it as “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily” (Vatican II, GS 26). Indeed, this constitutes the first of five principles enunciated by the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (No. 351) for the participation of Catholics in political life:
“a) that the basic standard for participation be the pursuit of the common good;
“b) that participation be characterized by a defense and promotion of justice;
“c) that participation be inspired and guided by the spirit of service;
“d) that it be imbued with a love of preference for the poor; and
“e) that empowering people be arrived at both as a process and as a goal of political activity.”
Candidates for public office need to be evaluated according to some objective criteria since their decisions and actions, if elected, can have far-reaching effects for or against the common good of the community. Indeed, Pope Francis himself has pointed out that “politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good.” (italics added)
How then can we discern if a national or local candidate can and will work for the common good? Within their circle of discernment, voters can adopt an evaluation process based on five Cs that can give us a more balanced understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.
The first C is conscience. Is the candidate a person of moral integrity? Is he or she God-fearing and maka-Dios? Does he have a moral compass? Does she follow the dictates of her conscience that tell her what is morally right and morally wrong? Does he respect human rights and the dignity of every person, including crime suspects, indigenous people, and rebel groups? Is she transparent and accountable in public transactions? Are there charges of corruption against the candidate? Of vote-buying and other election crimes?
Integrity comes from the root word meaning “whole,” whereas corruption denotes cor-rumpere or a fragmented heart. Pope Francis has observed that “corruption is a sinful hardening of the heart that replaces God with the illusions that money is a form of power.”
The second C is competence. What is the candidate’s educational background? How is his health situation (physical, mental, etc.)? What is her record of service—both in the government or in private life? Does the candidate have enough years of experience for the office being sought?
In the same way that we ride a plane with the assurance that the pilot is adequately trained and experienced, so also we have to scrutinize the competence of those who offer to pilot the ship of state or our local community.
Competence or capability should not be based on popularity alone, or on name recall. We do not go to medical doctors simply because of their names or titles. We make sure that they have the needed credentials for their profession. How much more do we need to scrutinize candidates who purport to heal not only individuals but also the social ills of society?
The third C is compassion. Does the candidate show an option for the poor and marginalized? Is he makatao? Is she willing to work for social justice to address the social problems of mass poverty and inequality—e.g., by pushing for asset reforms? Does he protect the rights of minority communities—particularly indigenous people, Muslims, and other marginalized sectors? Does she work for the empowerment of the poor, instead of just giving doles? Finally, is the candidate seen as elitist or prorich and propowerful?
The fourth C is companionship. Who are the candidate’s supporters and advisers? Are they persons of integrity with a sound reputation? Does the candidate belong to a political party? What is its platform for governance? Are these simply promises or a concrete program of government?
Does the candidate belong to a political dynasty, or is he or she beholden to traditional politicians (trapo)? Research findings have pointed out a disturbing correlation between the presence of political dynasties and poverty incidence, violence and corruption. The Philippine Constitution has also indicated the need to control political dynasties.
The fifth C in evaluating candidates is commitment. Does the candidate manifest sincerity, decisiveness, and political will in his or her leadership style? Questions of loyalty to country in terms of citizenship and residency requirements have to be addressed. Where was the candidate during the martial law years and what was his or her stand then and now? Is she makabayan? What is his stand on key issues today, such as protection of the environment, peace-building, and antipoverty programs?
These are the five Cs—conscience, competence, compassion, companionship, and commitment—that can give us a more realistic profile of each candidate. The candidate can be rated for each C along a scale from “very poor” to “very good.” On their part, each candidate will likely highlight only his or her strong points in some of the five Cs. Yet, for voters, it is imperative to weigh all the five Cs in a candidate’s profile to arrive at a more balanced view of who to elect into office.
For the PPCRV (Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting), this is the meaning of One Good Vote—by the individual and for ever-widening circles of discernment.
Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, is the archbishop of Cagayan de Oro.
Source: ASH WEDNESDAY ESSENTIALS
The term Ashen Triduum was coined by the founder of the Anawim community, Fr. Francis, he wrote Ashen Triduum is “a time after gathering of Ash Wednesday to come aside and withdraw for three days, to interpret how we are going to proceed for the journey ahead. The focus of these three days is essentially that of a retreat, a time to be alone with oneself before God, to be silent from within, and to take time for prayer and serious reflection.” It is in this view that I would like us to draw attention to the Thursday, Friday and Saturday after Ash Wednesday. The glamorous celebration of Ash Wednesday has an impact in us, it enkindles in us the desire to be reconciled with God, to enflesh sincerely the piety coupled with it and the charity demanded from us. It is but fitting then, to withdraw awhile and intently look at ourselves from the perspective of our relationship with God so that we will be equipped in our long journey of 40 days in the desert of lent. This journey will not be easy, it is gruesome, for we, too, will die eventually, as with our Jesus, to our very self.
We will find in our very selves deliberate, strong resistances to live out the spirit we have in the onset of lent, as a matter of fact, gradually we deviate and make excuses from it. As we “withdraw awhile” let us reflect a verse from the gospel for the First Sunday of Lent, from St. Luke 4:1-13, to help us be on-guard, like a soldier always ready for battle for our enemy is ready “…to await another opportunity.” (Lk. 4:13) The Lord Jesus having spent 40 days in the desert was tempted by the devil, failing, will come back at an opportune time to entice the Lord.
Reflecting on this verse, it led me to the temptations of Jesus, which will really happen to each one of us in this journey of 40 days, it dawned on me these events in the life of Jesus where the devil was most present- “the another opportunity”. How are we helped to face our spiritual and physical battle as we tread the path to holiness and wholeness?
- Jesus in the desert – The devil comes in and through the desert of our life; he comes when no one is around. When you feel alone, insecure, incomplete, down, feeling of emptiness and hopelessness and wanting. Jesus was alone in the desert. He was in want (he was hungry, Lk. 4:3). The devil uses the situation we are in to subtly allure us in the guise of our false needs, wants and should haves. It is also in these circumstances of life that our egoistic self comes in, manipulated by the enemy, that we begin to question or even despise God because of, either his seeming absence or apathy in our life.
The gift of wisdom will guide us to see what is of God and what will separate us from Him.
- Persecution during his ministry – It is true that in all the endeavors we have especially during this season, it all begun with good intentions. But as the wandering unfolds even the noblest intention will be put to the test, as Jesus was during his public ministry. The devil uses even the temple officials- the sanhedrins, priests and Pharisees to detest the good deeds He has done.
“*It is not without purpose that God strengthens (if we just beg him) our human weakness (during persecutions) with his gift of fortitude.”
- Agony in the Garden – When we are decisive and earnest in our loving and following of God, the devil rages desperately. He coils in anger and would deceive us through our weaknesses, limitations, sinfulness, unworthiness, the devil inflicts sorrow and fear in our heart as with the case of Jesus in the agony of the garden (Mk. 14:34) so that we would be overwhelmed and withdrew from our genuine resolution.
It is to this that we beg for the gift of counsel, which *sharpens our judgement. By its aid we perceive and choose the course of action that will be most conducive to God’s honor and our own spiritual good.
- Scourging at the pillar – Oftentimes, our desire for spiritual renewal and conversion will strip us of the very thing we are attached to, our self. Jesus when scourged, they tried to strip his dignity -“twisted some thorns into a crown, mocked and slapped his face” (Jn. 19:3) but failed to do so. Our faithfulness to our intentions lie not in the “manageable events” that we go through rather in the sagacity of the glory and victory that will be revealed in time.
The gift of understanding will help us perceive the process into which we are into, thus, we beg the Lord to graciously grant us the gift.
- Stations of the Cross – In our 40-day sojourn, there will be different aspects of our life that will be asked of us to give up. It may be our need to always defend ourselves or to give up our comfort zones so as to be able to avail oneself to the need of others. In moments where we come face to face with our own self, let us remember that the Lord must have been tempted all the way to Golgotha, always chided, but the Lord Jesus in his great love for us, continued on. The devil is the father of all lies, he never was, is and will be concerned of us.
Another gift is the fear of Lord which will be of use during this warfare against the devil’s malicious temptation in our faith. It is this gift that we hone our trust , love and reverence to God.
- Crucifixion – The presence of the devil must have been so tangible at this point in the experience of Jesus. It must have been so intertwined with how he felt and what he is experiencing, yet, he never gave up, on the account that “Jesus knew that the Father had put everything into his hands…” (Jn. 13:3) he knew what was his mission. Our piety during this season must be sincere and true, free from flair, free from frivolousness and hypocrisy. For the devil will not depart from us and will use our strengths as well as our weaknesses, to his own advantage and our failure.
Seek knowledge not from oneself but the knowledge that comes from God.
7. “My God, my God why have you abandoned me?”- Faith, hope and love remain, but the greatest of these, is love. Love is not faithfulness but steadfastness in the midst of darkness, trusting that even “darkness is light itself.”
The practice of the virtue of piety will anchor us in our relationship with God, even in the pit darkness.
*The Faith Explained [Third Edition] by Leo J. Trese
Ash Wednesday ushers us to the season of Lent which concludes at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. Today, we received the ashes in the form of the cross (+) on our forehead which reminds us that we are dust and to dust we shall return. However, there is more to the ashes which is only a sign of something deeper, mysterious yet fathomable reality of our Catholic faith.
The marking of ashes in our forehead is a centuries-old tradition which the Church uphold until now because of its indispensable truths. We believe that as our fathers of faith has done so to earn the just mercy of God by putting on sackcloth and ashes on their head, we, too, will earn the mercy of God by submitting ourselves to the process of purification. The Ash Wednesday is marked by a day of prayer, fasting, abstinence, and alms-giving. Usually on this occasion, we abstain from eating meat and fast from one full meal with two lesser meals during the day, Fr.Joseph Classen puts it clearly that fasting is “simply not eating nearly much as you normally would during the course of the day and not consuming anything (except water) in-between those meals. You should leave the table still a bit hungry.”
Over and above, fasting and abstinence should be coupled with the awareness of the reality of what to fast and what to abstain in our life not just during Ash Wednesday, Fridays of lent and Good Friday.
I have listed out some of the sacred scripture that can, in any way, help us comprehend the deeper meaning of a centuries-old tradition of fasting and abstinence as we live out our duty and obligation as followers of Christ Jesus:
St. Paul’s letter to the Romans 13:11-14, which says “… it is now the hour for you to awake from sleep… the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light . . . let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day,…” Prod us to see life beyond the peripheries of our self-centered views. St. Paul urges us to ruminate every moment of life as the “hour to wake from sleep” and “throw off the works of darkness” within us and “put on the armor of light”. An examined life will always shed light which inevitably leads to gradual conversion and renewal of one’s fundamental life option. Paul in the same letter continues to identify the manners in which we have to fast and abstain from in order to be able to live honorably as in the “daylight”, “not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus and make no provision for the desire of the flesh.”
A good scripture to take note as well is that of the letter of St. James 1:19-25, which underlines the necessity for the virtue of self-control and self-discipline as we go through life with its flaws, limitations, curves and edges. It says “know this, my dear brother: everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath…therefore, put away all filth and evil excess.” St. James reminds us that, in our dealing with others we must fast from our quick-tempered manners and habits and fast from self-introspection; abstain from our pride, self-righteousness and self-entitlement attitude so as to see things clearly as Jesus sees it, knows it and understands it.
Ephesians 4:29-31 brings us closer to the heart of fasting and abstinence. St. Paul boldly warned the faithful in Ephesians that to have a new life in Christ we must “guard against foul talk, all bitterness, fury, anger, shouting and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice.” Our act of fasting and abstinence must be imbued with the sincere desire for repentance, otherwise it will just be tainted with hypocrisy.
True fasting and abstinence will lead us to grow in our spiritual life. This sincere self-denial and self-sacrifice will create a space within us; thus, will inevitably lead one to desire for God. It is this very moment that true encounter between God and the *pray-er will happen, that God can enter into the life of the person. “It is through the (empty) heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eyes.” As we discover the essentials in our relationship with God, we come to a deeper appreciation to our moral obligation to our brothers and sisters, consequently, alms-giving becomes an act done out of love in, through and for God to neighbors.
Dear Lord, grant us the grace to be deeply sincere in our desire to amend our life as we enter into the season of lent. Amen
*pray-er – the late fr. Thomas green, sj would call the person who is praying as pray-er (anglicanpastor.com – priest reflection-google images)