The Big Three: Fasting, Prayer, and Almsgiving

Father Ted spoke about these three things at Mass today.  So, before we get into today’s verses, I thought I’d recap what he had to say.

The Catholic Church has a very special way of fasting during the season of Lent.  On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, we eat one meal and no meat.  The other Fridays of Lent we can eat as much as we want, however we must abstain from meat.  These are the minimum requirements, so to speak.  Most of us “fast” from other things during all 6 weeks.  And some of us actually fast from food.  Fasting is a way to grow our spiritual self.

Prayer is another way that we can walk closer with God.  Father said to be sure to set aside at least 10 minutes a day for prayer.  Again, this should be a bare minimum.  We should be praying so much that our soul is filled with longing for the Lord since we know that no one else can fill the void in our life.

Finally, all the money we save by all our fasting should be given to the poor.  When I was very young, we would get a little box that we would fill with our pennies during Lent.  Now, Charlie and I have graduated to a jar!  🙂

So there it is:  The Big Three:  Fasting, Prayer, and Almsgiving.  Three ways to have a great Lenten season.

Word Study:  Blessed (Mt. 5: 3-10)

     Makarios (Gk):  An adjective meaning “fortunate” or “blessed.”  It is found 13 times in Matthew and 37 times elsewhere in the NT.

     It is NOT used as an invocation of God’s blessing but as a declaration that a person has either received a blessing from God or can expect to receive one in the future.

     The beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount are eschatological and promise the rewards and consolations of God in the future.  They announce that the blessings of the New Covenant will be fully realized in heaven.  Some do promise blessings that are partly enjoyed in this life but ALL of them look past the struggles and hardships of this life to the eternal blessedness of the life to come. (Mt. 5: 11-12)

The Beatitudes

     The setting of the Sermon on the Mount recalls the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai.  Moses brought the law down the mountain whereas Jesus delivers His teaching to the disciples who have come up the mountain where He sits with the posture of a Jewish rabbi who is speaking with authority.  The mountain can also signify the higher precepts to be given to those who are ready to be set free by love.

     (Mt. 5:3)  the poor in spirit– those who recognize their need for God and His grace.  These are unattached to the world and rely upon God for their security.  They truly rely on His mercy rather than their merits or material wealth.  The spiritually poor can also be materially poor.  Those who are rich in faith will have full possession of heaven at the final judgement.  (Mt. 25: 34)

(CCC 2544-47)

     The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.  The Beatitudes reveal an order of happiness and grace, of beauty and peace.  Jesus celebrates the joy of the poor to whom the Kingdom already belongs.  Abandonment to the Providence of the Father in heaven frees us from anxiety about tomorrow.  The poor in spirit shall see God.

Conclusion

     I think this is all for today.  There is so much to think about and pray about in each beatitude that it is best to go slowly and thoroughly.

     On Monday, we will explore the phrase “the kingdom of heaven” and give more suggestions for Lenten practices for those who are inclined and explore “those who mourn.”

Jesus in the GardenQuestion of the Day:  Some translations of Matthew use “happy” instead of “blessed.”  What are your thoughts on this?

Meditations of the Day: 

  • Is there something I can do (or not do), Lord, to be “poor in spirit?”
  • True fasting pierces the clouds and causes our prayers to be heard and answered by God.  Am I fasting in such a way that my world is changing?

4 Comments

Filed under Almsgiving, Catholic, Christian, Fasting, Lent, Prayer, Sacrifice

4 responses to “The Big Three: Fasting, Prayer, and Almsgiving

  1. I remember those little boxes! (of course, I didn’t know what they were for…LOL)

  2. Lori Matthews

    for the question of the day – i think it is disingenious to use the word “happy” but, unfortunately, some words get lost in translation.blessed and happy are two very different things. many people are blessed and still not happy while many are happy without feeling as if they are blessed. happy, to me, is transient and speaks more of emotion and not reality.
    and i have to get a box now!

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