“Do you fast? Then feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, visit the sick, do not forget the imprisoned, have pity on the tortured, comfort those who grieve and who weep, be merciful, humble, kind, calm, patient, sympathetic, forgiving, reverent, truthful and pious, so that God might accept your fasting and might plentifully grant you the fruits of repentance. Fasting of the body is food for the soul.” —St. Basil the Great, 329-379 A.D.
|Seraphim_of_Sarov (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
“Prayer, fasting, vigils, and all other Christian practices, however good they are in themselves, do not constitute the goal of our Christian life, although they serve as a necessary means to its attainment. The true goal of our Christian life consists in the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God. Fasting, vigils, prayers, alms-giving and all good deeds done for the sake of Christ are but means for the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God. But note, my son, that only a good deed done for the sake of Christ brings us the fruits of the Holy Spirit. All that is done, if it is not for Christ’s sake, although it may be good, brings us no reward in the life to come, nor does it give us God’s grace in the present life.” —St. Seraphim of Sarov (a famous and highly revered Russian Orthodox saint, 1754-1833 A.D.)
Today Pope Francis took the first, dramatic public action of his pontificate.
During his Sunday Angelus message, he called upon Catholics everywhere — and also all Christians and all men and women of good will — to join him in a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria, where civil war has left thousands dead, and the involvement of other powers threatens a still wider war, this coming Saturday, September 7, the vigil of the Feast of the Birth of Mary, the Mother of God.
He asked Catholics everywhere to fast on Saturday along with him, and also to gather in their various parish churches to participate with him as he prays in Rome.
So the world will see something dramatic this Saturday: Pope Francis himself will be in St. Peter’s Square on Saturday evening from 7 p.m. until midnight, praying and fasting with the faithful of Rome and of the whole world, for peace in Syria and in the whole world.
(Some of the logistics are yet clear. Those Saturday evening hours in Rome would correspond to Saturday afternoon from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the eastern United States; it would seem that those hours would be the ones to pray along with the Pope. It is not clear whether the Pope will be present throughout the evening in St. Peter’s Square. Nor is it clear whether he will be praying out loud or in silence during those five hours, or in some combination of the two. Such details have not yet been released.)
This decision to call for a day of prayer and fasting reveals much about the man who is Pope Francis, and about the pontificate he is now truly beginning.
His action is marked by a fusion of the “traditional” and the “modern.”
His action draws upon 2,000 years of Catholic ascetical tradition, and in this sense is a highly traditional act.
Read more here: http://themoynihanletters.com/pope-franc