"When a man begins to fast, he straightway yearns in
his mind to enter into converse with God."
--St. Isaac the Syrian
"Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God's ear to yourself."
--St. Peter Chrysologus
This weekend we enter into the third week of our Lenten acts of detachment. How is your journey through this sacred desert going for you? How has the LORD consoled you in your own desolation? The Church offers us the richness of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition to shepherd us as we travel through the desert.
The Liturgy of the Hours/Divine Office of Readings is provided for all to pray. Our Priests and Religious take the vow to pray the eight Liturgy of the Hours daily for their entire life. And many Catholic Christians choose to do the same. It is an inherent act of sacrifice to step away from all that consumes us in our daily lives to once again be reminded that our lives are not meant to be lived in pursuit of our own desires and ambitions. A little play on words here: the "office" of the Liturgy of the Hours (sacred reading and prayer) is found in our own minds and hearts even though our bodies are located smack dab in the middle of the here and now. And isn't it the here and now, the what if's and the what could be's, that threaten to swallow up our souls?
When we enter into concert with Christians around the world to pray, we enter into the eternal act of worship where all the holy ones that have gone before us are (See Revelation 7:9-17 and chapters 19;21;22) in the REAL "here and now." The Scriptures are "living and active and sharper than a two edged sword," slicing through time to accomplish in God's people his Divine Will! If you will, praying the Liturgy of the Hours pulls away the gossamer veil of what humanity thinks so important and binding and reveals out eternal identity as created children of God.
We invite you into the Liturgy of the Hours with us and with the millions of other Catholic Christians around the world. If you need a little motivation, consider that the Saints, Martyrs, Priests, Religious, and our Holy Father, Frances, are praying with you. http://divineoffice.org/
Now, a meditation for you on how prayer, fasting and works of love propel our return to our created identity. During the Lenten Fast we choose to deny our appetites in order to train us to live in union with God and all the holy ones that have gone before us.
"It is because we hope in God's promise of a new heaven and a new earth, and a new heart for ourselves, that we cannot simply deny our appetites. There is meant to be a harmony between our wants and our world, but that harmony is the orchestration of one basic theme, which is the intended union of God and man in love.
It is the desire for God which is the most fundamental appetite of all, and it is an appetite we can never eliminate. We may seek to disown it, but it will not go away. If we deny that it is there, we shall in fact only divert it to some other object or range of objects. And that will mean that we invest some creature or creatures with the full burden of our need for God, a burden which no creature can carry. ...no activity can finally assuage our hunger for God. If, like the prodigal son, we 'return to ourselves,' like him we shall recognize that we have been trying to fill our bellies with husks, and we shall turn our minds towards home, towards our Father's love...
Our natural need to love 'returns home' when it turns to God; he is the truly faithful lover, who will never let us down...
It is around this central need that all our other needs and desires fall into place. Without it, they cannot help but be disordered, and no attempt to reduce them to order will have much effect except further disorder." --Father Simon Tugwell, O.P.
Holy God, we ask that this sacred season of Lent will reveal the fruits of redemption and sacrifice. As we restrain from disordered appetites and unruly desires, we ask that you would lead us onward and upward to you, our truly faithful lover. Amen