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FRIDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY MARCH 8, 2019


A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah 58:1-9a

Thus says the Lord GOD: Cry out full-throated and unsparingly, lift up your voice like a trumpet blast; Tell my people their wickedness, and the house of Jacob their sins. They seek me day after day, and desire to know my ways, Like a nation that has done what is just and not abandoned the law of their God; They ask me to declare what is due them, pleased to gain access to God. "Why do we fast, and you do not see it? afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?" Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits, and drive all your laborers. Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting, striking with wicked claw. Would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high! Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance:

That a man bow his head like a reed and lie in sackcloth and ashes?

Do you call this a fast,a day acceptable to the LORD?

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:releasing those bound unjustly,untying the thongs of the yoke;

Setting free the oppressed,breaking every yoke;

Sharing your bread with the hungry,sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;

Clothing the naked when you see them,and not turning your back on your own.

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,and your wound shall quickly be healed;

Your vindication shall go before you,and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!

REFLECTION: "This, rather, is the fasting that I wish":

All that we do should be for God, not us. So when we pray, give alms and fast why are we doing them? Praying, almsgiving and fasting are the best means to get closer to God and to bring others to Him. Even Jesus told the apostles, " This can only be done through prayer and fasting". (Mark 9:29)

When we pray we do something--we are praising, thanking and asking God. Many of us pray daily, so during Lent prayers can be improved, intensified and become more contemplative and meditative. We might find new books to read for Lent. We find ourselves more lovingly saying the rosary, the chaplet of Divine Mercy and accompanying our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. In praying we receive the peace, hope and joy that only God can give.

When we give alms we donate something on our own accord, when asked or when there is a drive. We tithe, give to the poor box, Helping hands, St Vincent de Paul Society, donate to feed the children in Venezuela and we commit time in serving the sick, poor, the homeless, and the lonely . We receive thanks, gratitude and a closer look at the children of God.

Fasting for me is the hardest. I don't fast throughout the year unless I am asked. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine are special "eating seasons" full of food, beverages and parties. Lent always seems to catch me off guard. Before you know it, it is time to give up all the frivolity of what the world offers. No more "me". I have to do what is hard and not enjoyable -- that is " to give up" food or drink or something else. This is the most challenging of Lenten duties mainly because I lack the self discipline and self control. That which I want I have to say 'NO" and humble myself before God. I abandon myself in total dependence to God, giving Him my will. God is asking us to give up something to gain Him which is beyond our imagination.

Some things suggested by Pope Francis other than food or drink to give up....

1. Fast from hurting words and say kind words.

2. Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.

3. Fast from anger and be filled with patience.

4. Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.

5. Fast from worries and trust in God.

6. Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.

7. Fast from pressures and be prayerful.

8. Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.

9. Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.

10. Fast from grudges and be reconciled.

11. Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.

God Bless


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