Into the Desert: A 40-day Summer Fast

A Peaceful Option for These Heated Times

Photo credit: Patrick Schneider – Unsplashed

Just what are we to do?  

“What are we supposed to do?” This question arose recently in a small group discussion with some of my family and friends. We had decided to get together (via an online meeting) to try and make sense of the unsettling things that have been happening in our country and beyond. As Christians, we pondered the classic question of what would Jesus do? We knew prayer was a definite answer. In addition to prayer, we also felt a need for action.

 And then someone brought up fasting.

Fasting? Lent is over!

This is summertime, and the living is supposed to be easy!  But as we all know, things are not easy right now.  Jesus spent 40 days in the desert praying and fasting in preparation for his ministry. Praying and fasting like Jesus will help us break our attachment to material things and will sharpen our spiritual focus. It will unite us as children of God in a unified goal of peace. And most importantly, it will draw us closer to God.

This summer, let’s go into the desert with Jesus and strengthen our soul for the spiritual battle that is taking place all around us.

Why fast and what is it?

Fasting is usually associated with abstaining from food or drink, although it can also be giving up comforts or luxuries.  When you fast, you withhold something good for a time, which helps us to depend more fully on God.  Deacon Sabatino Carnazzo of Mclean Va. explains fasting this way. It is “the deprivation of the good, in order to make a decision for a greater good.”

Jesus, as well as Moses, Elijah, St. John the Baptist, and many other holy men and women have gone into the desert to take part in the spiritual exercise of fasting. If it was good for them, it will be good for us.

Fasting has many benefits:

  • It helps us grow in discipline and the virtue of temperance
  • It breaks excessive or unnecessary attachments to material things
  • It engages us in a spiritual sacrifice in solidarity with Jesus (and others)
  • Along with prayer, fasting is a useful mode of self-reflection, contrition, and repentance
  • It is a powerful spiritual weapon to use against the tactics of the evil one

If you are interested in fasting as a spiritual weapon, check out this article.

INTO THE DESERT: A 40-day Summer Fast

In the current state of affairs, many are stressed out, worried and unsettled. People want to do something but don’t know what. Into the Desert: A 40-day Summer Fast is an opportunity to join your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ for a 40-day peaceful fast during these heated times.

To join the 40-day Summer Fast

  1. Find at least one other person to take part in the fast with you
  2. Discern what your fast will be
  3. Consider offering this summer fast for serenity in our society
  4. Make sure to focus on prayer too for the 40 days!

Suggested time: July 7 – August 15*
July 7 is the feast day of Blessed Ralph Milner, a martyr for the faith
August 15 is the feast of the Assumption

*If you read this after July 7, YOU CAN STILL PARTICIPATE.  You can start now and finish on August 15 – you don’t have to do all forty days. Or, if you really want to do the full time, then count 40 days from whatever day you start to determine your finishing date.

Photo Credit: Kamil Szumotalski-Unsplashed

Fasting Ideas

FOOD- Fast from something you really love, like sweets, red meat, bread, wine, salting your food, whatever!

MEALS- Fast from snacking between meals. Or how about eating only one big meal per day and two smaller meals?

DRINK- Make water your only drink. No alcohol, coffee, tea, juice, milk, etc.

HOT SHOWERS- Fasting from hot showers during the heat of summer might not be as bad as trying this in the winter, but cold showers will surely be a challenge.

EXCESSIVE NOISE & DISTRACTIONS-Fast from listening to the radio or music or podcast in the car. (Good opportunity to pray instead) Turn off the TV when not watching.

SOCIAL MEDIA/NEWS FEED-Though it is important to stay informed of what is going on, you can fast from social media and news feeds by keeping your screen time to one hour or less per day.

THE SNOOZE BUTTON-Create what is called “The Heroic Moment” by getting up as soon as you hear the alarm clock. No hitting the snooze button. Say a prayer and immediately start your day.

If you want more fasting ideas, check this out.

If you have any other ideas, please share them in the comments below. We could all use ideas on how to make our relationship with God stronger.

A Prayer to Prepare Your Heart to Fast:

Dear Father,
How priceless is your unfailing love.
You have fearfully and wonderfully created us.
You have ordained all our days and written them in your book before we were born.
All your thoughts towards us are precious.
We praise you because we are your handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, ones you have prepared in advance for us to do.
We come before you today to humble ourselves before you,
submitting to your will for our lives.
Because of you, Father, surely goodness and mercy will follow us
all the days of our lives.
Let us be devoted to living out your will on earth,
to be more concerned with storing up treasures in Heaven than on earth.
Lead us, Lord, in the way we should go.
Direct our steps and fulfill your plans for our lives.
Let our feet run swiftly to follow after you.
In Jesus name,
Amen.
Prayer credit to Lynette Kittle at iBelieve.com

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:13

A Happy Birthday (With Some Amazing Gifts!)

Pentacost

Happy Birthday Everyone!

OK, for the small percentage of people who are actually born today (May 31st) this happy birthday wish might make sense, but the rest of you might be wondering about this joyful greeting. Today we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, also known as the birthday of the Church – not the church building – but the people who are the Church.

Christ promised his disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit to help them after he ascended into heaven, and on Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, they were granted the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These “birthday gifts” from the Holy Spirit were pretty amazing!

Amazing Gifts

For example, Peter, who had been quietly waiting and praying in a room with Mary and the disciples, boldly came out after receiving the Holy Spirit and proclaimed with great zeal the truth about Jesus. In addition to that, the Holy Spirit gifted the disciples with the ability to speak in other tongues! Over three thousand people were baptized that day! For this reason, Pentecost is considered the birthday of the Church.

The cool thing is that the amazing gifts of the Holy Spirit are not just for the apostles, they are for us too! There are seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Fortitude, Understanding, Piety, Knowledge, Counsel, and Fear of the Lord.

Heroic Character Traits

These seven “heroic character traits” are critical in the challenge of helping to spread the gospel – the good news – to all. They empowered Peter and the other disciples, and they can empower us too!

As Frank X. Blisard states in his article, The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, “the seven gifts are designed to be used in the world for the purpose of transforming that world for Christ. Isaiah 11 vividly portrays what these gifts are to be used for: to do what one is called to do in one’s own time and place to advance the kingdom of God. ”

So, we are supposed to do what we are called to do.  That deserves repeating:  Do what He calls us to do! (Yeah, I know…easy to write, harder to figure out and carry out.) We will have more success in accomplishing this task of spreading the kingdom of God if we use the gifts given to us. Tapping into these heroic character traits, the seven gifts of the Spirit, is imperative!

Battle Ready?

As baptized (and confirmed) Christians, we have full access to all these amazing gifts. The question is, are we an open channel for the Spirit’s gifts? Or do we close ourselves off to these gifts by our fear, low expectations, or worldly distractions? Do we think we can do this all by ourselves, and put the gifts away on a shelf? Or do we humbly ask for help as we “armor up” and go do His work?

If we take up arms by saying yes to God’s call and get out there to do the work assigned to us, these heroic character traits, these seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, are there to empower us. Blisard writes that “the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are our spiritual weaponry for the spiritual warfare of everyday life.” When you strive to live a virtuous life and take on the battle, the Holy Spirit endows you with these supernatural powers. Now that’s amazing!

Birthday Blessing

So back to the birthday wishes. God in his inexhaustible love has great things for us, not just on Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, but every day! Let us pray and ask Him to bless us with these amazing gifts:

O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish your work in the souls of your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that he may perfect in my soul, the work of your grace and your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with you and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of your true disciples, and animate me in all things with your Spirit. Amen.

(Prayer from the Champions of the Cross Novena to the Holy Spirit)

After This Our Exile

After This Our Exile
A Prayerful Reflection on the Pandemic

By guest blogger: J. M. Pridotkas

“This our exile…”

I learned the beautiful prayer “Hail, Holy Queen” as an adult, by hearing it prayed by others in prayer groups and on EWTN’s broadcast of the Rosary. I’ve always thought of it as referring to the state of our life here on earth before we see Jesus in heaven (“…show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus…”). I see it in another light now because of the current COVID-19 pandemic. The experience of having my daily and weekly routines completely disrupted for the unforeseeable future is a modern form of exile that I never imagined would occur.

The fact that this “exile” is occurring during Lent adds a spiritual aspect that might not have been as evident during other times of the Church calendar or the year.

I recently participated in a Bible study of the prophets of the Old Testament, who lived before and during the time of the Israelites’ 70-year exile in Babylon. Today, we worry that today’s “exile” could last four or more months, even with all of our modern-day technologies and conveniences!

Perhaps those four months are the least we need to get back on track with God. The Israelites’ were without the Temple and the “Holy of Holies” during their exile. Maybe, for us, this time away from Mass and the Eucharist will deepen our longing for that “blessed fruit”, Jesus, and that we “may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.”

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

© J. M. Pridotkas

 

Prayer in the Time of the Coronavirus

 

Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Prayer in the Time of Coronavirus:Jesus Stained Glass

 Comfort us, O Lord, for we are like your disciples on the storm-tossed seas, unsettled by what lies ahead. We turn to You, our Healer and Guide, to still our hearts in our time of need and hear our prayer:
Heal those who are sick with the coronavirus and protect the elderly and most vulnerable.
Give strength to all who tend to our health and wisdom to researchers who work toward a cure.
Open our eyes and hearts, as you did during Hurricane Harvey, that we may look beyond our immediate needs to care for others who need help.
Through the Holy Spirit, guide our leaders to make wise decisions for the welfare of all the people they serve.
Grant eternal rest to those who have died from the virus.
May Mary, Our Mother, who has heard our pleas in the storms of our lives,
intercede to her Son, that we may find healing and a prompt end to this illness.
Mary, Star of the Sea, pray for us.
Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, heal us. Amen

https://www.archgh.org/resources/health-updates/spiritual-resources/

As the Darkest Day Draws Near — Find Lights of Hope Here

Light of Hope for the Darkest Days

The darkest day of the year is near. On December 21, those of us in the Northern Hemisphere will have the longest night of the year and the shortest period of daylight. There will be over five hours more darkness than we had back in June. That’s a lot of darkness. Below are some quotes about light to help brighten and bring some hope into our cold, dark Advent season. Continue reading