Tomorrow we begin the fortnight of prayer and fasting which our bishops have asked us to undertake. In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus gives instructions for “when you fast.” In other words, He does not bind us to fast all the time. Sometimes He does.
Why is this one of those times? Because we perceive a serious problem in our country. And we hope that, with divine assistance, we can avert a crisis.
Jonah proclaimed a fast in Nineveh. The Ninevites fasted, and the tide of history turned.
How do we fast? First of all, we stop sinning. Also, we eat less than usual. We renounce–for a time–some of the pleasures that we rightfully enjoy at other times.
We quiet everything down. We focus on the invisible, tremendous power of God.
Instead of snacking, we pray. Instead of watching t.v., we read a holy book. Instead of going to the movies, we go to church to watch a movie.*
We focus on what matters. We acknowledge that life on earth passes quickly, and we fix our eyes on our true goal. We let the cellphone go, and we communicate with our most faithful friends, who are in heaven.
Christ has offered to the Father the worthy sacrifice that rights all the wrongs of history. The sacrifice of the Cross, the sacrifice of the Mass—the infinite sacrifice of divine love: this sacrifice, and this sacrifice alone, can turn this world into a place of peace and truth.
We Christians can and must participate in the sacrifice of Christ by our own humble sacrifices. The Lord offered Himself to the Father in the thick of this confused and misguided world. The crucifixion of the innocent Lamb convicts the world of dishonesty and malice. We fast because this conviction still stands. Something is rotten in the State of Denmark. It cries out to heaven when the government tries to tell the Church that She must violate Her own teachings, or else be punished. May God be merciful and give the whole business a fresh start.
We pray that the Fourth of July will find America united in peace. May the Lord move in His own way to open eyes and soften hearts.
We know that without God we know nothing at all and have no taste whatsoever for anything good.
May His holy will be done. And may whatever strife we endure now in the heat of spiritual battle serve to fill us with more love for God and for each other.
* In our humble little parish cluster, we will get together to watch a “Man for All Seasons.”