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Friday, February 23, 2007

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St. Polycarp

Isaiah 58:1-9
Psalm 51
Matthew 9:14-15

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"Do you call this a fast?" —Isaiah 58:5

Why do we fast for Lent? Is it to lose weight? Is it for the satisfaction of giving up a favorite food for forty days, so it will taste that much better on Easter? Is it because that's what Catholics do during Lent, and we want to follow the crowd? Is it because we want others to notice we are good Catholics? (Mt 6:16)

Conversely, do we fast because Jesus has told us that, along with prayer, it is the most effective weapon against the kingdom of darkness? (Gospel of Life, 100) Do we fast so that demons will be cast out and those held captive by Satan will be rightfully restored to Jesus? (Mt 17:21, NAB) Do we fast because we miss Jesus (Mt 9:15), and therefore are trying to hasten the day of His return by bringing down the kingdom of Satan? (2 Pt 3:12)

We can fast for human reasons, or we can fast for God's reasons. The Lord reveals to us: "This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own" (Is 58:6-7). Fast this Lent so as to bring a fast end to the works of Satan. Get this Lent off to a fast start.

Prayer:  Jesus, may people be able to tell I am fasting simply because of all the fruit that accompanies my fasts.

Promise:  "Your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard." —Is 58:8

Praise:  St. Polycarp prayed as his body burned in martyrdom, "Lord...I bless You for judging me worthy of this day."

Reference:  (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 3, 2006 & September 18, 2006

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