Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

So today begins our Lenten observance. Given my corpulent figure, fasting of some sort seems a logical course. Then I remember that half of my Lent will be spent cruising. (Oh, didn't I mention that?) Well, if we get a priest for the cruise, I'll go to daily mass on board. I'm too much of a Scotsman to push prematurely away from the table I paid for.

On a less selfish note here is a nice piece on Lent and fasting:

Lent: Why the Christian Must Deny Himself:

An "oldie but goodie" from the vaults:

Lent: Why the Christian Must Deny Himself | Brother Austin G. Murphy, O.S.B. |

We still ask ourselves as Ash Wednesday approaches, "What am I doing
for Lent? What am I giving up for Lent?" We can be grateful that the customs
of giving up something for Lent and abstaining from meat on Fridays during
Lent have survived in our secular society. But, unfortunately, it is doubtful
that many practice them with understanding. Many perform them in good faith
and with a vague sense of their value, and this is commendable. But if these
acts of self-denial were better understood, they could be practiced with
greater profit. Otherwise, they run the risk of falling out of use.

A greater understanding of the practice of self-denial would naturally benefit
those who customarily exercise it during Lent. Better comprehension of self-denial
would also positively affect the way Christians live throughout the
year. The importance of self-denial can be seen if we look specifically
at fasting and use it as an example of self-denial in general. Indeed, fasting,
for those who can practice it, is a crucial part of voluntary self-denial.

But since we live in a consumerist society, where self-indulgence rather
than self-denial is the rule, any suggestion to fast will sound strange
to many ears. It is bound to arouse the questions: Why is fasting important?
Why must a Christian practice it? Using these questions as a framework,
we can construct one explanation, among many possible ones, of the importance
of self-denial.

To answer the question "Why must the Christian fast?" we should first note
that fasting, in itself, is neither good nor bad, but is morally neutral.
But fasting is good insofar as it achieves a good end. Its value lies in
it being an effective means for attaining greater virtue. And because it
is a means for gaining virtue– and every Christian ought to be striving
to grow in virtue–there is good reason to fast.

Some people point out that fasting is not the most important thing and,
therefore, they do not need to worry about it. Such reasoning displays a
misunderstanding of our situation. But, since the excuse is common enough,
some comments to refute it are worthwhile.

Read the entire article...

(Via Insight Scoop | The Ignatius Press Blog.)

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