What Is The Purpose of Lent?

My Dear People,

Forty days and forty nights make up he bulk of Lent. A famous comedian once said, “I do not know why they call it a fast, when it goes so darn slow.” Fasting is an essential key to the Lenten experience. What is the purpose of fasting? It teaches us patience. It teaches us discipline. It teaches us the value of mortification. All three are so badly needed in our Church today. Jesus chose to fast from all food for 40 days. At the end of the fast, Satan manifested himself in order to tempt Our Lord. He offered him; control, praise and power. Everyone of these are eagerly sought by contemporary man.

Satan Hates Fasting

Who wouldn’t want complete control of your own life and that of others? Who doesn’t like to seek the praise and attention of others? Who wouldn’t want an endless supply of money? These Satan has to offer, because he has temporal authority right now, over the things of the Earth. Fasting is an essential defense against Satan. He hates our fasting, especially for the sake of our growth in the Holy Spirit. Church law requires those between the ages of 18 and 59 to fast in between meals, and abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. All Fridays during Lent require us to abstain from meat. And the Catechism indicates that we abstain from meat on all of the other Fridays of the year, unless you perform and act of charity of mercy in its place. These acts include working at the soup kitchen, working in a place taking care of the poor and other acts of mercy. Hardly ever, do I hear of Catholics keeping the latter discipline.  Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call to Him while He is still near.  Run to Him in times of trial and tribulation. And know that He waits for all of us to return fully to HIM.

Entrusting you to the care of Our Lady,
Fr. Mark Bozada

May we open our hearts to the poor and lovingly share our blessing with all of God’s needy children.

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4 comments to What Is The Purpose of Lent?

  • fr. now that i know satan hates fasting maybe i can possibly do better—-thank you

  • anne

    thank you for drawing attention about abstaining from meat during the year on Fridays OR performing a work of Mercy. i must look closer at Catechism because i had NO IDEA of this . i do not think i have ever heard of this from a pulpit.

    • Thanks for the comment, Anne. Here is the information you are seeking. Isn’t shocking that so few Catholics know this. I remember my emotions of feeling betrayed when I discovered this. And please pray for this new aposolate.

      JMJ
      John

      CIC Canons 1249-1251 Can. 1249—All members of the Christian faithful in their own way are bound to do penance in virtue of divine law; in order that all may be joined in a common observance of penance, penitential days are prescribed in which the Christian faithful in a special way pray, exercise works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their responsibilities more faithfully and especially by observing fast and abstinence according to the norm of the following canons.

      Can. 1250—All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the universal Church.

      Can. 1251—Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

      • On Penance and Abstinence

        taken from the USCCB

        For these and related reasons, the Catholic bishops of the United States, far from downgrading the traditional penitential observance of Friday, and motivated precisely by the desire to give the spirit of penance greater vitality, especially on Fridays, the day that Jesus died, urge our Catholic people henceforth to be guided by the following norms:

        1. Friday itself remains a special day of penitential observance throughout the year, a time when those who seek perfection will be mindful of their personal sins and the sins of mankind which they are called upon to help expiate in union with Christ Crucified;

        2. Friday should be in each week something of what Lent is in the entire year. For this reason we urge all to prepare for that weekly Easter that comes with each Sunday be freely making of every Friday a day of self-denial and mortification in prayerful remembrance of the passion of Jesus Christ;

        3. Among the works of voluntary self-denial and personal penance which we especially commend to our people for the future observance of Friday, even though we hereby terminate the traditional law of abstinence as binding under pain of sin, as the sole prescribed means of observing Friday, we give first place to abstinence from flesh meat. We do so in the hope that the Catholic community will ordinarily continue to abstain from meat by free choice as formerly we did in obedience to Church law. Our expectation is based on the following considerations;

        a. We shall thus freely and out of love for Christ Crucified show our solidarity with the generations of believers to whom this practice frequently became, especially in times of persecution and of great poverty, no mean evidence of fidelity in Christ and his Church.

        b. We shall thus also remind ourselves that as Christians, although immersed in the world and sharing its life, we must preserve a saving and necessary difference from the spirit of the world. Our deliberate, personal abstinence from meat, more especially because no longer required by law, will be an outward sign of inward spiritual values that we cherish. Every Catholic Christian understand that the fast and abstinence regulations admit of change, unlike the commandments and precepts of that unchanging divine moral law which the Church must today and always defend as immutable. This said, we emphasize that our people are henceforth free from the obligation, traditionally binding, under pain of sin in what pertains to Friday abstinence, except as noted above for Lent. We stress this so that no scrupulosity will enter into examinations of conscience, confessions, or personal decisions on this point.

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