As the Church fasts, so does the church fast

Carmel bulletin, 12 March 2017

lent_enviro_08 005When arriving at Mass last Sunday, one of young parishioners observed that the church looked very bare.

Perhaps you noticed this as well.  It may have been the lack of flowers or banners.  It may have been that there was less music within the Mass than what you’re used to.

We’re well aware that during Lent, we as a Church (the people of God) are called to fast.  This fasting sees us go without what is unnecessary in our lives and focus on what we really need.  The first need, of course, is a deep and loving relationship with God who continually invites us to be closer to him.

Similarly, during this season, our church (the building) reflects our Lenten practice with its own fasting.  It goes without the extra decoration.  It goes without the extra hymns and without the instrumental music.  It goes without the echo of Alleluia within its four walls for six and a half weeks.

All of this helps us to build in our anticipation and eagerness for celebrating the glorious resurrection of our Lord at Easter.

Fast and Abstinence

Carmel Bulletin, 2 March 2014

The season of Lent begins this Wednesday.  Both Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are particular days of fast and abstinence, and we are encouraged to make these regular practices, especially during this season.

The purpose of our fasting and abstaining is simple – to remove the distractions that the “wants” in our lives cause us, so that we may focus on what we really need.  The first and foremost need in our lives of course being a deep, loving relationship with our God and with each other.  We are called to consider how we may make this penitential practice an authentic part of our Lenten observance, as we hear in the gospel of Ash Wednesday.

Fish Market, © FreeFoto.comThe thought of fasting or abstaining may seem somewhat extreme, or old-fashioned, or both.  It can often be something that is seen as the typical behaviour of “those Catholics”, with the connotations and preconceived notions that come with it.

Yet periods of fast and abstinence are alive and well in the wider community, even if people don’t realise it.  World Vision still fundraises through the 40 Hour Famine each year.  We’re asked every twelve months to abstain from using electricity for an hour (funnily enough, this year on 29 March – during Lent).  Men are encouraged every November to abstain (somewhat) from shaving to support research into prostate cancer, while to support leukaemia research, we’re asked to give up our hair altogether (until it grows back, of course, and again, this will fall during Lent this year).

It all certainly makes not having meat for a handful of Fridays sound pretty tame, doesn’t it?

View and download our Lent, Holy Week and Easter Triduum Schedule

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26/2/11 – Fasting and Abstinence

This week we celebrated Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of the season of Lent.  Ash Wednesday is a day of fast and abstinence.  In the past, rules about fasting and abstinence in the Church were clear and very well known.  Nowadays they are often not as well known as they used to be.  Are we required to fast?  Who should fast and when?  The following statements are from the Church’s Code of Canon Law, and are the key point of reference on the matter.

The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

Fish Market, © FreeFoto.comAbstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

The conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast.

Code of Canon Law, 1250-1253

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