Second Week of Lent

"Not So Fast!"

Why do we Catholics fast before feasts?

Fasting helps us prepare ourselves for feasting. It is a way of saying "Not so fast!" to our desires so we do not overindulge or satisfy our cravings at an inappropriate time. Fasting, if accompanied by prayer, heightens anticipation for the feast, which in turn increases our hope in the coming of God's Kingdom in our lives, in the world, and in the future Resurrection.

Restraining and depriving ourselves of food and other good things, with God's grace, teaches us self-control and self-discipline. If we cannot wait to indulge in a legitimate pleasure, this shows that it is our master, telling us what to do and when. God wants us to give us freedom from slavery to material things, often called detachment. That doesn't mean these things are bad; it only means they are lesser goods compared to virtue and closeness to God, and that there is a time and a place for them. When we wait until Easter to eat that piece of chocolate (or whatever), it becomes and instrument of rejoicing in the Lord and what he has done for us in his Resurrection.

So, if you're tempted to break your Lenten fast, say "Not so fast!" Wait until Easter and enjoy in moderation. You'll have a better, more spiritual Lent and Easter Time because of it.
Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.

This collect prayer begins the Mass for Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Jesus is calling us to "take up battle against spiritual evils." We'll explore fasting itself in a few weeks; during the week of Ash Wednesday, we're going to dig into an important set of weapons the Lord gives us to fight evil: sacramentals.

What's a sacramental? Well, if you attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, you're probably going to receive one on your forehead.