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Notes from Fr. Vic

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"My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me."

John 10:27

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A Pastor's Gift

This Lent, enter more deeply into the Passion and Presence of our Lord with these free gifts from Fr Vic. Books will be available beginning Thursday, Feb 15, in the church. 

February 20, 2024

 

As we enter the first full week of our Lenten journey, I offer this excerpt from a paper I wrote for a seminary “Liturgy Course” on Fasting.

 

A Christian understanding of fasting:

 

Its roots are found in both the Old and New Testaments beginning with the “breaking of the fast” by Adam, and ends in the New Testament with the “second Adam” (Christ), who keeps the fast.  When Adam eats the forbidden fruit “original sin” is revealed to us.  Thus, fasting is revealed as more than just a mere custom or Christian tradition, and is connected to the very mystery of life and death.

 

In observing the origin of original sin we see the connection between food and life.  But is it food that ultimately gives us life?  In a biological sense, yes, but this is only because it is food that sustains the body in a physical way.  In the Christian tradition this life “by bread alone” ultimately leads to a physical death.  God is the giver of life, but because of the disobedience of Adam, death and man’s mortality enters the world.  And this disobedience changes the very nature of man’s relationship to the world and to God.  Man’s primary purpose was to be in communion with God; thus, to eat and be with God was one and the same thing.  The tragedy is that Adam eats for himself and loses the blessed state of being a “friend” of God.  He puts his faith in “food for life” and expresses his “independence” from God.  In reality, Adam becomes a slave to the world and forgoes the freedom found in a right relationship with God.  Ultimately, we eat in order to live, but apart from God this still leads to death.

 

Christ, as the new Adam, comes to repair the damage caused by the first Adam, and by His “death” and “resurrection” Christ restores man to true life.  He begins his ministry with a period of fasting forty days in the desert (Matt. 4:2).  During Christ’s fast He becomes hungry and it is at this moment of physical weakness that Satan tempts Him.  Hunger is the state in which we realize our dependence on something other than ourselves, and when we urgently need food, we understand that we have no life in ourselves.  At this point we are confronted with the question, on what does my life depend?  It is when the body is physically deprived of food that temptation comes to test us.  Satan tempts both Adam and Christ: Adam believes the lies and eats the forbidden fruit, but Christ rejects the temptations and says: “…man does not live by bread alone” Matt 4:4.  Christ ultimately is depending totally on God the Father.

 

Hence, we find the power of the Lenten season.  It is during Lent that we are presented with the image of our desert experience.  It is in the desert that we are tempted by Satan to fall back into the bondage of our passions and sinful tendencies.  But it is in the desert, with the aid of fasting, that we slowly and methodically confront our weaknesses and ultimately ascend the ladder to holiness as we place these things under God.

 

The irony of the physical food which we consume that still leads to a bodily death; out of a deep love for us, our Father offers us a spiritual food that gives us eternal life beyond a bodily death by uniting us to the Father through the Son, in the Holy Spirit: THE HOLY EUCHARIST.

 

As I began shall I end: In fasting we see a connection between food, life, death, and eternity.

 

Vivat Jesus

Father Vic Gournas

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