Sunday, February 13, 2022, Father Tony led our latest Catholicism 101: Remember That You Are Dust discussion. The conversation began with the first reading, from the prophet Joel 2:12-18 (found HERE), with an emphasis on the verse that begins "Blow the trumpet in ZION! proclaim a fast, call an assembly;" Rarely do we think of a fast as a good thing. We usually thing of it as a punishment or penance. However, the fast is an opportunity to remove the things from our lives that are in the way of allowing the Lord to fill our emptiness with His love and grace.
We are only required to fast on two days in Lent: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The fast is described as one meal and two snacks, combined not to equal one meal. The fast is obligatory from the age of 18 through 59. We also practice abstinence from the age of 14 onward, which means on the Fridays of Lent (along with Ash Wednesday and Good Friday), we refrain from eating meat (beef, pork, fowl, etc.). We are able to eat fish, eggs, and other protein sources not found in land-dwelling animals.
The sacrifices of both the fast and abstinence are there to help us feel the emptiness in our stomachs to lead us to the emptiness where God is missing from our lives. Once we know where the emptiness is, we are called to fill it with the love and grace the Lord has for each of us.
There are three disciplines in Lent we are called to practice. In addition to fasting, we are called to prayer and almsgiving. At its base, prayer is a conversation with God. For many of us, that conversation tends to be a little one-sided, where we do a lot of talking and not a lot of listening. Father Tony challenged us to consider lectio divina as a starting point for prayer if we are struggling with our conversation with the Lord. If we can take the time to reflect on a Scripture passage, the readings of the day, for example, and to see what strikes us in the reading. This can lead us to a conversation where we ask the Lord "what message do you have for me in this reading" and gives us an opportunity to wait for an answer from the Lord.
Almsgiving is when we recognize all that we have is from the Lord and give a portion of what we have back. Catholic Relief Services gives us the opportunity for the Rice Bowl. Donations made through CRS' Rice Bowl provides support to more than 140 million people in over 100 countries. For those who are not able to give of their financial resources, sharing of their time is just as significant.
Father Tony left us with two thoughts to sustain us through the 40 days we will spend on our way toward Christ's resurrection:
1. His forgiveness is bigger than our sins
2. His mercy is greater than our evil