Monday, September 22, 2008

40 Days for Life, 2008

During October we celebrate Respect Life Month. The 40 Days for Life program is a time of fasting, prayer, and increased vigil and community outreach for the pro-life cause. The Official 40 Days for Life starts on September 24 and ends on Nov. 2.

This year a group of us have decided to take it to the next level, praying fervently for the election of a pro-life President and Vice President. We will act during the 40 Days for Life as we would during Lent, making sacrifices, and eating on Wed. and Fri. as we would on Fridays during Lent. We will continue this fast until the Presidential Election.

I try not to repeat myself in this blog, but whenever I write about fasting I remind pregnant and lactating women that they are exempt from physical fasting. Instead, treat the constant physical care of yourself and your baby as a prayer; offer it up to God as your sacrifice. Please see below for the Catholic rules on fasting.

I encourage everyone to look at the website to find out what kick-off events might be going on in a city near you for 40 Days for Life. Also, keep in mind the gospel for this week. The owner of a vineyard went out to find laborers at 9:00, 12:00, 3:00, and 6:00. At the end of the day, those who started work in the evening were paid as much as those who started working in the early morning. “Your ways are not my ways. . .Last shall be first, and first shall be last.”

I always took this passage to mean our final reward in heaven would not be dependent on how long in life you served Christ; as long as you turned to Him in the end you would receive everlasting life. But in the context of this time of prayer, I interpret it to mean that you can join in the fast at any time. Keep telling your friends about it, and even if they join in at day 39 or 40 their prayers will do the Lord’s work.

I will be following a modified fast because I am a nursing mother. Please read on for the Catholic rules of fasting. (Emphasis added by me.)

"Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday [Canon 97] to the 59th Birthday [i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday] to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal in quantity. Such fasting is obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The fast is broken by eating between meals and by drinks which could be considered food (milk shakes, but not milk). Alcoholic beverages do not break the fast; however, they seem to be contrary to the spirit of doing penance.

Those who are excused from fast or abstinence. Besides those outside the age limits, those of unsound mind, the sick, the frail, pregnant or nursing women according to need for meat or nourishment, manual laborers according to need, guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving great offense or causing enmity and other situations of moral or physical impossibility to observe the penitential discipline.

Aside from these minimum penitential requirements Catholics are encouraged to impose some personal penance on themselves at other times. It could be modeled after abstinence and fasting. A person could, for example, multiply the number of days they abstain. Some people give up meat entirely for religious motives (as opposed to those who give it up for health or other motives). Some religious orders, as a penance, never eat meat. Similarly, one could multiply the number of days that one fasted. The early Church had a practice of a Wednesday and Saturday fast. This fast could be the same as the Church's law (one main meal and two smaller ones) or stricter, even bread and water. Such freely chosen fasting could also consist in giving up something one enjoys - candy, soft drinks, smoking, that cocktail before supper, and so on. This is left to the individual.

One final consideration. Before all else we are obliged to perform the duties of our state in life. Any deprivation that would seriously hinder us in carrying out our work, as students, employees or parents would be contrary to the will of God."

---- Colin B. Donovan, STL

For other posts I have written on the topic of fasting click here.


Leticia said...

Great idea, I posted some of your commnents on Causa Nostrae Laetitiae. I hope this idea catches on, the only way to cast out certain demons is by prayer and fasting, and if abortion's not a demon, I don't kwow what is.

Anonymous said...

God love you, good Mother!

We must vote for life keep after our politicians and shape them and future leaders ourselves! Write to them to fight The Freedom of Choice Act. See my blog and/or Just Say NObama!

blog: Give Him Your Heart