As regards fasting, St. Francis de Sales gives this advice:
“If you are able to fast, you will do well to observe some days beyond what are ordered by the Church, for besides the ordinary effect of fasting in raising the mind, subduing the flesh, confirming goodness, and obtaining a heavenly reward. it is also a great matter to be able to control greediness, and to keep the sensual appetites and the whole body subject to the law of the Spirit; and although we may be able to do but little, the enemy nevertheless stands more in awe of those whom he knows can fast.”
According to St. Seraphim, “Fasting is an “indisensable means of gaining the fruits of the Holy Spirit in one’s life. ” (cf. Conversation with Motovilov). Jesus Himself taught that some forms of evil cannot be conquered without it. (Mt 17.21, Mk 9.29) Charles H. Spurgeon once said, “Our seasons of fasting and prayer at the Tabernacle have been high days indeed; never has Heaven’s gate stood wider; never have our hearts been nearer the central Glory. ”
As important as fasting is, it is incomplete without prayer and almsgiving (charity). For those of us who are Catholics, Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are ’inseparable’, they are always together. St. Augustine, described fasting and almsgiving as “the two wings of prayer. ” Among prayer, fasting and almsgiving (charity)- almsgiving is surely the most neglected. Isaiah 58:4-6 rebukes such a fasting that lacks justice and charity. Like fasting and prayer, almsgiving is non-negotiable. “…It is better to give alms than to store up gold; for almsgiving saves one from death and expiates every sin. Those who regularly give alms shall enjoy a full life.’ (Tobit 1228-9) Mike Aquilina wrote. “We need to give to God – whom we meet in our neighbours lives. ” Our charity should also involve personal acts, not just about giving money alone. Let us not ignore that poor Lazarus that keeps disturbing our conscience, rather like the good Samaritan we must come to the aid of those victims of war, lnjustice, human wickedness and the poor as we embark on this 21-day fasting and prayer. Pope Francis says, “Fasting makes sense if it really chips away at our security and, as a consequence, benefits someone else, if it helps us cultivate the style of the Good Samaritan, who bent down to his brother in need and took care of him.”
Works of charity and the promotion justice are integral elements of our 21-day fasting and prayer. Let us put love and mercy to practice, so that God will show according to our needs. for the scripture says “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive merey.'( Matt 5:7) Through your generosity and kindness to others. like Abraham, you position yourself for divine visitation. St. Peter Chrysologus puts the whole discourse about prayer, fasting and almsgiving in an inspiring and touching manner thus: “Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. Let no one try to separate them: they cannot be separated. If you have only one of them or not all together; you have nothing. if you pray, fast; If you fast, show mercy; If you want your petition to be heard. hear the petition of others. When you fast, see the fasting of others.” Pope St. Leo the Great advises: “Prayer has itd greatest eficacy to obtain favors from God when it is supported by works of mercy, such as almsgiving.”
1. Thank the Lord for His word to you today.
2. Lord, help me to fast and pray like never before this year in the name of Jesus.
3. Father, let my sacrifice of fasting and prayer be accepted by You in the name of Jesus.
4.Lord let 2017 be my year of new ‘ beginnings of greatness and glory in the name of Jesus.
5. Lord, hide me in the shadow of Your wings, divinely protect me and all that are connected to me in the name of Jesus.
6. Father, strengthen me, make me a light to all around me, use me to win souls into Your kingdom, for Your glory the name of Jesus.
7. Take this prayer.
Father, Your truth is made known in Your Word. You have taught me to pray, fast and be charitable. Help me to recognize Your face in the poor. Enable me to live out my vocation to bring love and justice to Your people. Holy Spirit. You inspired me to transform our world. Empower me to seek the common good for all persons. Give me a spirit of solidarity and make us one human family. I ask this in the name of Jesus Amen.
Exercise: Find out members of the DSD family around you and form a praying group throughout the 2 I-Day fasting.