“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Since Jesus was crucified on a Friday, practice had been among Catholics to avoid meat on all Fridays. But since Vatican II (The Second Vatican Council which was opened by Pope John XXIII in October 1962 and closed under Pope Paul VI in December 1965), the requirement to abstain from meet has been limited to Fridays during Lent, although throughout the rest of the year Catholics are expected to either abstain from meat or substitute some other form of penance.
While non Catholics may or may not recognize Lent, it is a good time to stop and reflect, to prepare our hearts for the message of the cross and the celebration of the Resurrection.
Do you have a hunger for God? If we don't feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because we have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. If we are full of what the world offers, then perhaps a fast might express, or even increase, our soul's appetite for God. Between the dangers of self-denial and self-indulgence is the path of pleasant pain called fasting.
~ John Piper
Lord, let this season of Lent be a time of renewal, a time of growing closer to you. Let me not see it as a time of just giving up the things that I hold important. Help me not to focus on what I'm missing, but understand what I'm gaining in a closer relationship with you and a deeper understanding of your grace.
Good It Is To Keep the Fast
Good it is to keep the fast,
Shadowed forth in ages past,
Which our own Almighty Lord
Hallowed by His deed and Word.
Moses, while he fasted, saw
God Who gave by him the law;
To Elijah angels came,
Steeds of fire and car of flame.
So was Daniel meet to gaze
On the sight of latter days
And the Baptist to proclaim
Blessings through the Bridegroom’s Name.
Grant us, Lord, like them to be
Oft in prayer and fast with Thee;
Fill us with Thy heavenly might,
Be our Joy and true Delight.
Father, hear us through Thy Son,
And the Spirit, with Thee One,
Whom our thankful hearts adore,
Ever and forevermore.
Words by Gregory I (540-604), translated from Latin to English by Henry W. Baker.