February 19.  Fasting. The participants of the family groups were thinking about ways to fast so as to be life-giving. “Isaiah’s reading certainly gives us good ideas,” Vincent said.  “Our family has also made up a list of “Acts of Love and Sacrifice” with some suggestions for fasting to choose from.  We have added more environmental ideas too, like saving water and electricity, caring for nature, finding out more about conservation, and the CO2 everyone is talking about, etc.“ Jackson suggested a weekly family fast day and donating the money saved to the SVP for a meal for a poor family.   (check out MARFAM’s list on the website )

“Thus says the Lord God, “Behold in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure and oppress all your workers.  You fast only to quarrel and to fight. Is not the fast that I choose to loose the bonds of wickedness, let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke.  Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house, when you see the naked to cover him and not to hide yourself from your own flesh.  Isaiah 58: 1-9.   Pope Francis:   Social love is the key to authentic development.  In order to make society more human, more worthy of the human person, love in social life – political, economic and cultural must be given renewed value and become the constant and highest norm for all activity.  LS 231.

St Francis, even as a young boy, had been generous with the poor. As he was discovering his vocation there was a serious break-down in his relationship with his father, because he started giving away his father’s goods, money and food.  For himself, he prayed and fasted constantly as a penance and denied himself any pleasure in food. When he perceived by his example that many were inspired to bear the Cross of Christ with fervour, he himself was inspired, like a good leader of the army of Christ, to consider the saying, “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh and its emotions and lusts.”  He restrained his sensual appetites with such strict discipline that he would barely take what was necessary to support life, as it was difficult to satisfy the needs of the body without yielding to the inclinations of the senses. He seldom allowed himself cooked food and would either sprinkle it with ashes, or by pouring water over it would as far as possible destroy its savour and taste.  He was always discovering methods of more rigorous abstinence. From the Life of St Francis of Assisi by St Bonaventure.  Reflect, share, act, pray.  How can we as a family practise doing penance by fasting?