Welcome to ‘Fast as You Can’. Join us as we journey with our sponsor sites around the world to praise God and share our intentions for ourselves, our loved ones, our sponsored children and elders, and for our world. In a special way this Lent, we pray for peace in Ukraine and a change of heart for its oppressors.
Week 1 | Fr. Pat
As we quiet our minds and hearts and prepare for our journey of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, may we always be mindful that our relationship with God and with each other, if built on the power of the Word, the power of the Spirit, and the power of Prayer, will strengthen us to overcome all temptations and lead us to the joy of the resurrection.
It's the first Friday in our Lenten "Fast as You Can" offering. As we prepare to launch our first journey, Fr. Pat offers two insights from his own fasting experience that will help make your fast more meaningful and spiritually powerful - both for you, and your loved ones!
Week 2 | Deacon Ryan
In the second week of our Fast as you Can journey, we reflect on the transfiguration of Jesus and what it meant for the disciples and for us today. ‘This is my beloved Son, Listen to Him.’ The voice of God resounding from the cloud has an important message to convey to the disciples, and us – A listening heart is a heart warmed by the love of God and taught by his words.
In this week’s video, Deacon Ryan invites you to consider the power that fasting and almsgiving can have when you unite your suffering with Christ's Passion.
Week 3 | Fr. Pat
In the third week of our Fast as you Can journey, we hear the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. She is nameless, labelled, judged by her neighbours. Jesus, however, does not judge, and is more interested in her future than her past. When she asks for the water that he is offering, Jesus frees her from her bondage and gives her the water that will never leave her thirsty again.
In this week’s video, Fr. Pat explores how Jesus meets and heals the suffering when they are away from the prying eyes and distracting voices of their society.
Week 4 | Theodoric Nowak
In the fourth week of our Fast as you Can journey, our gospel reading is from John - Jesus cures the man who had been blind from birth. Jesus actually gives the man two gifts: the gift of physical sight, and the gift of spiritual sight – the gift of faith. He is now seeing everything more clearly than all the religious leaders who condemn Jesus - theirs was the real blindness.
In this week’s video, Theodoric draws courage and inspiration from the Desert Fathers, early Catholic ascetics who knew all about temptation, and the strength Christ gives us to overcome it.
Week 5 | Fr. Pat
In the fifth week of our Fast as you Can journey, our gospel reading is from John - “See how much he loved him!” John’s account of Jesus’ raising of Lazarus from the dead is meant to also remind us that Jesus loves all of us and can bring us ‘back to new life’ in him. We, in turn, can bring others ‘back to new life’ through our love and concern for those in need of our help.
Jesus performed the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead, but he leaves a vitally important part to the community of family and friends. What he said to the community then, is meant also for us today. We are to ‘unbind’ them; we are to set them free. We are to work for justice and peace and love and compassion. Our love and our compassionate care can bring hope, joy, and courage, and awaken potential.
Our Catholic faith has always treasured fasting as a means of making an offering to God. Our Hebrew fathers in faith made frequent fasts, as did our early Christian Church. Jesus made fasts, and instructed His disciples how to fast well, too.
We fast by denying ourselves an earthly enjoyment for the sake of remembering, honouring and glorifying the new earth that Christ has won for us. We recall that Christ used His free will to die on the cross to save us from our sins. In turn, we can use our free will to cause ourselves a little discomfort as an act of gratitude and recollection.
Our Tradition holds that there are many benefits to offering fasts. In his “Introduction to the Devout Life”, St. Francis de Sales writes:
“...besides the ordinary effect of fasting in raising the mind, subduing the flesh, confirming goodness, and obtaining a heavenly reward, it is also a great matter to be able to control greediness, and to keep the sensual appetites and the whole body subject to the law of the Spirit; and although we may be able to do but little, the enemy nevertheless stands more in awe of those whom he knows can fast."
We often associate fasting with food restrictions, such as bread-and-water or water-only fasting. These are wonderful, but fasting does not have to have anything to do with food or eating to be just as sacred That’s why we called it ‘Fast as You Can.’ We encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to inspire you with an offering that is safe, holy, and meaningful for you.
As it says in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (emphasis added):
“The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others...[They] cite as means of obtaining forgiveness of sins: effort at reconciliation with one's neighbor, tears of repentance, concern for the salvation of one's neighbor, the intercession of the saints, and the practice of charity "which covers a multitude of sins." (CCC 1434)
The Catechism further suggests, “spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works)...reading Sacred Scripture, praying the Liturgy of the Hours and the Our Father. In sum, “every sincere act of worship or devotion revives the spirit of conversion and repentance within us and contributes to the forgiveness of our sins.” (CCC 1437-38)
Let yourself have a little chuckle, and tell Jesus you love Him. That’s really the heart of any of this. Then you can prayerfully re-commit to your fast.
When we get excited about making a sacrifice for Jesus, sometimes we go a little overboard. Maybe your enthusiasm made your fasting goal a little too ambitious. That’s very natural! Prayerfully consider modifying your fast next week.
We are suggesting Friday night until the Sunday Mass (including the Saturday vigil) for its symbolic significance. Our Jewish brothers and sisters share a Shabbat meal on Fridays, as Jesus and the Holy Family would have. The Eucharist, being the Bread of Life, is the perfect way to break the fast from earthly ‘bread.’
However, if ‘Fast as You Can’ means another day of the week for you, then your offering will be no less cherished by God.