Good evening Father Angelo,
I wanted to ask you when does the Easter fast begin and if you could kindly tell me what are the most important days of fasting.
From this year on, I wish to observe it.
Thank you, I look forward to your answer.
Answer from the priest
- All the period of Lent is characterized by a penitential attitude aiming towards the purification and the renewal of our spiritual life. The spheres where we should realize this spring of the spirit are three, and precisely those that the Lord indicated in the passage of the Gospel that is read on Ash Wednesday, taken from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew: prayer, fast and alms.
- Sure, prayer is also asking, but in this period it is actually more the listening of the word of God, because one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4). So your fast should start from here: from taking away a portion of your time to be in communion with God and listen to His word, for instance by reading the Gospel of the Mass of the day. As good spiritual nourishment, I suggest to recite the Holy Rosary every day, during which you can think again about the things the Lord has told you in the Scriptures. The Rosary is a broad prayer and can be recited in many different ways: of course, you should first of all meditate on the mysteries of Jesus’s life mentioned in every decade, but also on the thoughts that absorb our mind and our life. John Paul II in his letter on the Rosary wrote that “At the same time our heart can embrace in the decades of the Rosary all the events that make up the lives of individuals, families, nations, the Church, and all mankind. Our personal concerns and those of our neighbour, especially those who are closest to us, who are dearest to us. Thus the simple prayer of the Rosary marks the rhythm of human life” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 2).
- Then there is the fast.
As I recalled, all the period of Lent is characterized by a penitential attitude. Undoubtedly, a particular form of penance is fasting, which is essentially depriving ourselves of something in order to atone for our sins and also to purify and elevate ourselves.
As the fast is deprivation, there are many things that we can cut down on. The first one is, of course, sin. It is useless to mortify gluttony, when we keep offending the Lord. So, our first fast should be here: in giving up sin.
- Then we can cut down on many activities that waste our time, like surfing aimlessly on the internet.
Lent is a propitious time, together with a particular grace of the Lord, to discipline the use we make of the internet and to impose ourselves to look it up at the end of the day and until a certain hour, without going over it.
In this way, we gain much time to devote to prayer and spiritual nourishment.
- We can fast also by not allowing ourselves many things that are rightful and good. For example, we could decide not to eat between meals (if our health and job permit it), to keep off from delicacies if there is not a reason, or from pastimes that are far from a penitential attitude.
- I wish to remind that on Sundays and holidays the Church relieves the penance, and that the fast is commanded only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
In addition to Ash Wednesday, the Church also commands the abstinence from meat and expensive food on every Lenten Friday, in a stricter way than the other Fridays of the year.
- Finally, there is alm, that in our case, as well as to giving to the poor, implies all of charity, and so it is synonym of patience, humility, benevolence, not considering the evil received, being ready to abnegation, attentiveness to other people’s needs, etc.
Here there are plenty of occasions.
Rather, sometimes we have the impression that all our life is an occasion that the Lord gives us to transform every act of virtue into an offering of our love for Him, to atone our and the others’ sins.
As you can see, there are many ways in which you can practice fast during Lent. May you live them all at best. You will immediately feel an interior candor and you will realize that a spiritual spring is starting in you, together with a blossoming of the blessing of God on your life and your activities.
I entrust you to the Lord and I bless you.
Translated by: Francesca Belfiore