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The Ball's In Your Court

Friday after Ash Wednesday

My dear encountered couples:

In today’s gospel, the Pharisees wanted to know why the disciples of Jesus weren’t fasting. Some people wonder why Catholics don’t fast much. We might wonder that ourselves.

The only fast days in our Church year are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The only abstinence days are those same two days and the Fridays of Lent. Fasting is generally not eating between meals and having only one large meal. Abstaining is no meat all day.

If you remember when there were lots of days like that, if Lent was a time of starvation for you, along with a few other days of the year, then you may be one who also asks, “Why don’t the Catholic disciples of Jesus fast?”

The Church officials have not made religion easier for us; they have made it harder. The choice has been put into our hands. You and I are left on our own to choose our own penances, whether they be “denials” or “doals” (doing extras). We are not to go through the year, certainly not through Lent, as if giving something up and doing something extra is not necessary for our spiritual growth.

In order to grow in the habit of doing good, in order to grow in the habit of resisting temptation to sin, in order to become saints, which we must be if we plan to live in heaven, we must give up some things and we must do other things. But now that the choice is in our hands life and religion are actually harder than before, not easier. We now have to think for ourselves, make our own decisions, and then push ourselves to carry them out. “Why is it that your disciples don’t fast?” Can that be asked about you?

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