Wednesday, February 13, 2013

St. Francis de Sales "On Fasting"

To treat of fasting and of what is required to fast well, we must, at the start, understand that of itself fasting is not a virtue. The good and the bad, as well as Christians and pagans, observe it. The ancient philosophers observed it and recommended it. They were not virtuous for that reason, nor did they practice virtue in fasting. Oh, no, fasting is a virtue only when it is accompanied by conditions which render it pleasing to God. Thus it happens that it profits some and not others, because it is not undertaken by all in the same manner.

...We know very well that it is not enough to fast exteriorly if we do not also fast interiorly and if we do not accompany the fast of the body with that of the spirit.

That is why our Divine Master, who instituted the fast, greatly desired in His Sermon on the Mount to teach His Apostles how it must be practiced (Matt. 6: 16-18), which is a matter of great profit and utility....He knew that to draw strength and efficacy from fasting, something more than abstinence from prohibited food is necessary. Thus He instructed them and, consequently, disposed them to gather the fruits proper to fasting. Among many others are these four: fasting fortifies the spirit, mortifying the flesh and its sensuality; it raises the spirit to God; it fights concupiscence and gives power to conquer and deaden its passions; in short, it disposes the heart to seek to please only God with great purity of heart.

The first condition is that we must fast with our whole heart, that is to say, willingly, whole-heartedly, universally and entirely. If I recount to you St. Bernard's words regarding fasting, you will know not only why it is instituted but also how it ought to be kept.

He says that fasting was instituted by Our Lord as a remedy for our mouth, for our gourmandizing and for our gluttony. Since sin entered the world through the mouth, the mouth must do penance by being deprived of goods prohibited and forbidden by the Church, abstaining from them for the space of forty days. But this glorious saint adds that, as it is not our mouth alone which has sinned, but also all our other senses, our fast must be general and entire, that is, all the members of our body must fast. For if we have offended God through the eyes, through the ears, through the tongue, and through the other senses, why should we not make them fast as well? And not only must we make the bodily senses fast, but also the soul's powers and passions-- yes, even the understanding, the memory, and the will, since we have sinned through both body and spirit.

How many sins have entered into the soul through the eyes, as Holy Scripture indicates? (1 Jn. 2:16). That is why they must fast by keeping them lowered and not permitting them to look upon frivolous and unlawful objects; the ears, by depriving them of listening to vain talk which serves only to fill the mind with worldly images; the tongue, in not speaking idle words and those which savor of the world or the things of the world. We ought to cut off useless thoughts, as well as vain memories and superfluous appetites and desires of our will. In short, we ought to check all those things which keep us from loving or tending to the Sovereign Good. In this way interior fasting accompanies exterior fasting.

Jim Morris and the United Nations World Food Program, Part 3

In this final installment, I speak with Jim Morris, former executive director of the United Nations World Food Program about his present work in central and southern Indiana with the Interfaith Food Initiative. Jim offers that so many who are “food insecure,” especially children, should not be, especially here in the U.S.  ”Every child ought to have a well-balanced diet of good nutrition providing 2300 calories a day … Doing something about child hunger is the most powerful intervention we can make in the life of a child.”

"Prayer for the Church in Anticipation of the Vacancy of the See of St. Peter" (courtesy of the Knights of Columbus)

O Lord Jesus Christ, Supreme Pastor of Your Church,
we thank you for the ministry of Pope Benedict XVI
and the selfless care with which he has led us
as Successor of Peter, and Your Vicar on earth.

Good Shepherd, who founded Your Church
on the rock of Peter's faith
and have never left Your flock untended,
look with love upon us now,
and sustain Your Church in faith, hope, and charity.

 Grant, Lord Jesus,
in Your boundless love for us,
a new Pope for Your Church
who will please You by his holiness
and lead us faithfully to You,
who are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Amen.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Podcast: Jim Morris and the United Nations World Food Program, Part 2

Part 2 of my conversation with Mr. Jim Morris continues with a discussion about the root causes of chronic hunger and malnutrition in the world and the different responses that are being posed to address the issues. JIm speaks of his time in Rome with the World Food Program and the work of individual Catholics he has met and Catholic Relief Services in seeking to feed the hungry. Finally we talk about the Interfaith Food Initiative being undertaken in the city of Indianapolis to make sure that our families and children are fed.

[personal note: This interview took place as I was coming down with the flu - didn't realize I sounded so bad until I heard it again. Woe was me ....]
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