let's observe the old time fast for just Holy Week. We'll make it simple and just follow two rules:As Holy Week starts this Sunday, I wanted to take a minute and look at some reasons to take up the challenge by reflecting on the writings of my patron of 2014, St. Josemaria Escriva.
1) No meatCharlemagne and his fellow eighth century Catholics kept this fast for all of Lent (and abstained from other foods besides). Our challenge is just one week. What do you think?
2) No eating before nightfall (or at least until "the seventh hour" - noon)
All Christians know prayer is essential for living a good spirit-filled life. No less of an authority than St. Paul tells us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess 5:17), a high standard indeed! Of course, many Christians, Catholic and non, seek to live full prayer lives, but St. Josemaria makes a powerful, and to many surprising, observation, "unless you mortify yourself you'll never be a prayerful soul." (The Way, 172). Why we might be tempted to ask. St. Josemaria answers, "no ideal becomes a reality without sacrifice. Deny yourself. It is so beautiful to be a victim!" (The Way, 175). This truth is a meditation on the very teaching of Christ, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Lk 9:23) Which leads St. Josemaria to remark, "don't complain if you suffer . It is the prized and valued stone that is polished." (Furrow, 235). Why is self imposed suffering, i.e. mortification, so aidful to the Christian faithful? Because it is the most effective way of battling what St. Paul called "sarx" (the flesh). "The body must be given a little less than it needs. Otherwise it will turn traitor." (The Way, 196).
The end of Lent is the perfect time to ramp up our penance, our mortification, in preparation for the banquet of Easter... and in preparation for the Heavenly banquet that awaits those who persevere until the end (cf. Matt 24:13). Don't let such a great opportunity to grow in holiness pass.