Hope all is well on this “25th Day of Lent”, as for those who are “fasting for forty”, have 15 days left. For those of you who are “fasting forever” (until Pentecost Sunday, June 8th) – we’ve got “69” days left. It is a long time to fast but, after reading an email and watching this short video from one of my mentors, the inspirational Father Robert Barron, it gives me that much more motivation and incentive to continue with my “96” day fast.
What can the saints teach us about Lent? Father Robert Barron elaborates on this topic in a powerful two minute video:
That’s NO steak, chicken, ribs, pizza, pasta, pork, fish…no soda, alcohol, chocolates, ice cream or any type of dessert…just bread, water and mixed nuts for almost 100 days. I don’t bring this up to impress you, but to impress upon you that when one puts his mind to doing something (specially when it comes to “spiritual discipline”) – he or she can accomplish anything if one keeps his or her focus on what the Lenten season is all about…fasting, praying and almsgiving…
A lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various worldly pleasures, often with the aim of pursuing spiritual goals. It is all about discipline and focusing on something and someone of higher power. This term is one that we rarely hear and I truly thank Father Barron for bringing it to light. It is a term that needs to be promoted more in the Catholic Church and a lifestyle that needs to be promoted among those who are serious about their Faith, about transformation. The word “disciple” comes from the term discipline. If we want to be true disciples of Christ, we must have true discipline for Him.
In order to become more in tune with our Faith, one needs to put away all the pleasures and distractions that the world bombards us with and when one fasts for 40 days or 96 days, he or she automatically has to set his or her mind for this period of “abstinence”. It puts one’s spiritual life into perspective and every time I personally feel any sense of hunger (which I do pretty much all day), I resort to prayer – an Our Father, a Hail Mary and a Glory Be…This basically keeps me in prayer for the entire 96 days and it is a discipline that I humbly honor and take as serious as our relentless fight against abortion.
Please watch and share this video from the “one who brought us the Catholicism series” a couple of years ago. The mere fact that Father Barron focuses on the life of one of my favorite saints – Saint Ignatius of Loyola – the namesake for our beloved Cathedral and my home away from home – gives this entire “Ash Wednesday to Pentecost Sunday Fast” that much more significance. For it was this incredible “Soldier of Christ” who taught me so much about discipline and transformation. His going out to the desert (the caves of Manresa in Catalonia, Spain), in order to seek the true meaning of his life and to see what GOD was calling him to do, is what attracted me to this bold saint in the first place.
And, because of his great love for Jesus and the discipline it took for Saint Ignatius to be transformed into this holy man, he was admired by all those who saw that tremendous conversion, with many following his every step, and thus, the order of the Jesuits was born. Like Jesus who spent “40 days and 40 nights” in the desert, Saint Ignatius became the man that he became because of that “spiritual discipline”, living for good lengths of time in extreme deprivation, relentless fasting and utter simplicity. He felt that that was GOD’S calling and he followed it to the “T”.
Today, the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) flourish in all parts of the world, with even our own beloved Pope Francis, himself, being a devout Jesuit. Be careful what you pray for…Saint Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.
EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Saint Ignatius of Loyola by Miguel Cabrera (1695–1768).