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    » 02/03/2009, 00.00

    VATICAN

    Pope: fasting against egoism, in order to learn to do the will of God



    Benedict XVI's message for Lent highlights the relevance of the ascetical practice of renouncing food, which modern society considers only from the perspective of physical well-being.

    Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Even though "true fasting" means doing the will of God, the voluntary renunciation of food is "a spiritual arm to do battle against every possible disordered attachment to ourselves," "helps the disciple of Christ to control the appetites of nature, weakened by original sin," and "is an aid to open our eyes to the situation in which so many of our brothers and sisters live," calling upon us to follow the example of the first Christian communities, which gave to the poor what had been set aside through abstinence.

    The practice of fasting is the topic of Benedict XVI's message for Lent this year, entitled "Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry" (cf. Mt. 4:2), made public today. In the document, the pope observes that "In our own day, fasting seems to have lost something of its spiritual meaning, and has taken on, in a culture characterized by the search for material well-being, a therapeutic value for the care of one’s body. Fasting certainly bring benefits to physical well-being, but for believers, it is, in the first place, a 'therapy' to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God." Lent can therefore be a good opportunity so that "the authentic and perennial significance of this long held practice may be rediscovered, and thus assist us to mortify our egoism and open our heart to love of God and neighbor, the first and greatest Commandment of the new Law and compendium of the entire Gospel (cf. Mt 22, 34-40). The faithful practice of fasting contributes, moreover, to conferring unity to the whole person, body and soul, helping to avoid sin and grow in intimacy with the Lord."

    Benedict XVI then recalls that Sacred Scripture and Christian tradition "teach that fasting is a great help to avoid sin and all that leads to it. For this reason, the history of salvation is replete with occasions that invite fasting. In the very first pages of Sacred Scripture, the Lord commands man to abstain from partaking of the prohibited fruit." In the New Testament, "Jesus brings to light the profound motive for fasting, condemning the attitude of the Pharisees, who scrupulously observed the prescriptions of the law, but whose hearts were far from God. True fasting, as the divine Master repeats elsewhere, is rather to do the will of the Heavenly Father."

    "Denying material food, which nourishes our body, nurtures an interior disposition to listen to Christ and be fed by His saving word. Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God. At the same time, fasting is an aid to open our eyes to the situation in which so many of our brothers and sisters live." "By freely embracing an act of self-denial for the sake of another, we make a statement that our brother or sister in need is not a stranger. It is precisely to keep alive this welcoming and attentive attitude towards our brothers and sisters that I encourage the parishes and every other community to intensify in Lent the custom of private and communal fasts, joined to the reading of the Word of God, prayer and almsgiving."

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    See also

    29/01/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: Lent, charity means giving oneself, not just giving "things"
    In his message for Lent, Benedict XVI writes that it is foreign to the Gospel perspective to do good deeds expecting a personal return, perhaps in terms of public image. The entire Gospel is summed up in the commandment of charity, and according to the example of Jesus, what gives value to all almsgiving is love, which inspires different forms of giving, according to the opportunities and conditions of each one.

    09/03/2011 VATICAN
    Pope: Lent, fasting means abstaining from evil and living the Gospel
    General audience, Benedict XVI illustrates the moments of this "time of conversion” and practices connected with it. Linked "strictly" to fasting, almsgiving is the will to do good. Both are the "two wings of a prayer, which allow us to take flight and seek the things of heaven."

    06/02/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: Lent,"an occasion to make our hope more vibrant and firm"
    Nothing nourishes hope better than prayer, "the engine of the world", "because nothing expresses the reality of God in our lives better than prayer with faith". But suffering also moves in the same direction, because it opens the way to participating in the consolation of God.

    06/02/2008 VATICAN – ASIA
    Lent: almsgiving and the gift of life
    In his message for this most important of moments in the life of the Church, Benedict XVI warns against worshipping wealth, urging us to use it for global solidarity whose lack is strengthening groups like al-Qaeda. Giving oneself is the best and least noisy ways of giving onto others.

    01/03/2006 VATICAN
    For the Pope Lent is a time of conversion and solidarity
    Let these be days of reflection and intense prayer during which we let the Word of God guide us, a time when we can truly share gifts received with one's brothers and pay attention to the needs of the poor and those left out.



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