The beginning of Lent will probably be met with utter indifference by many today. Yet this season in the church’s life is deeply rich in history, tradition and meaning. It is a most beautiful and moving opportunity to walk with one another as we share part of the mystery of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem.
The 4th Precept of the Church advises (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2043: (“You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church”) ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.
Now that’s the teaching and it translates into something like this:
Ash Wednesday, 22 February and Good Friday, 7 April 2023, are days of fasting and abstinence. Fridays of Lent are also days of abstinence.
Fasting is to be observed by all 18 years of age and older, who have not yet celebrated their 59th birthday. On a fast day, one full meal is allowed. Two other meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to each one’s needs, but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids, including milk and juices, are allowed.
Abstinence is observed by all 14 years of age and older. On days of abstinence, no meat is allowed. Note that when health or ability to work would be seriously affected, Church law does not oblige. When in doubt concerning fast and abstinence, the Parish Priest should be consulted.
Fasting, almsgiving, and prayer are the three traditional disciplines of Lent. The faithful and Catechumens should undertake these practices seriously in a spirit of penance and of preparation for Initiation into the Church or the renewal of Baptism Promises at Easter.
But let us be aware of the invitational nature of this teaching. We are called into a relationship with God, and while we know and can acknowledge all that God offers us, in this season, we are called to give in return – of ourselves, of who we are, of what we possess, of what we desire. And unlike the rich man in the Temple we are bidden to do all this in quiet, unknown to others except to God.
Matthew (4:1 – 11) tells us the story of Jesus’ 40 days and nights of fasting in the wilderness and the temptations put before him – food, divine and earthly power. The temptations were aimed at his perceived weaknesses, but it is the very fact that Jesus has fasted and prayed that gives him the strength to reject the power of evil. Our own society, cities and towns provide temptations too many to count – all aimed at our perceived and known weaknesses. The great stories of the Church remind us that prayer and fasting will energise us and guide us away from those forces that would sorely test us.
Enter these coming weeks to learn, to grow and to strip away the unnecessary from your life and walk humbly with your God.
On Ash Wednesday, students and staff gathered in Year Levels to celebrate a Service of the Word and Distribution of Ashes led ably by our Student Leadership. Staff also gathered in the College Chapel where administration officers led the Service. Our thanks go out to all who assisted in preparing and delivering the services.
Director of Faith and Mission