Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Catholics and "Organized Fasting"... those hypocrites?!

Do you know what one of my most favorite things in the whole wide world is?!
Scripture taken out of context.

Quickly followed by...
private interpretation and proclamation of such confusion.

I just love that there are roughly 41,000 "Christian" denominations in the world today.
And I should probably stop with the sarcasm before someone thinks I am serious.

When Nathan and I first became friends, he was loaded with all kinds of questions for the "Catholic girl."
Top of the list, right out of the gate, "Do you worship Mary?" Negative, Ghost Rider.

"Why do you confess your sins to a priest?" "Does the Catholic Church really teach against ALL forms of
birth control?"
I quickly became the apologist that I never wanted to be. Drove me to take up Theology
as a second major in college. Catholic girl's got a hobby now.

Throughout the years I've been challenged by all sorts of people.

So why do Catholics do "ORGANIZED FASTING" - as it seems like it should be offered to God
"in secret" as a true and unnoticed (by the world) sacrifice. I can see where this is coming from.

Ash Wednesday rolls around and Catholics everywhere parade around the world with black ashes strewn
across their foreheads. If that's not obvious enough, how about the lines at every "fish and chips" joint
from here to kingdom come?! "Woe are we."

"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."
- Matthew 6:16

I don't see any rules against "organized fasting"..... just some encouragement to not be
GLUM about it. The Lord loves Him a cheerful giver. Don't we all?

I suppose you could read Matthew 6:1, which is clearly talking about ALMSGIVING,
and go applying it to verses on fasting...

"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them.
If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."

Jesus fasted. 40 days in the dessert, complete with His own personal tormentor. Mark 1:12-13

For most Catholics, "organized fasting" throughout Lent and on other noted days, is an act of
penance, self-denial for the sake of cleansing the heart, mind, and soul for God... following
in the very footsteps of His Son, Jesus Christ. These days most often come before MAJOR Christian
celebrations; Easter, Christmas, no big deal.

The beauty of "organized fasting" - days like Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Fridays in general
(in holy remembrance of our Lord's passion and death)- is that the BODY OF CHRIST, as Christians
(not just Catholics!) around the world, can come together and unite all the sacrifice as ONE to the Father.

Solidarity, my friends. We all love it.

We get people to pray together. Why is fasting together such a strange idea to some?

"But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you."

- Matthew 6:17-18


Let's put our hearts in the right place this Lent. Let's put aside the "sack cloth" and "ashes" -
the attitude of the hypocrites - and JOYFULLY enter into sacrifice, whatever that looks like for you,
for the sake of emptying our hearts and souls so that they can be filled again with the graces
of the ULTIMATE SACRIFICE: Good Friday and that Man on a cross who saved us all.

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