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Ember days and fast days

“And when you fast, be not like the hypocrites, sad”


Fasting is a difficult topic to address in our modern age, and even when most are totally in support of the topic and principle. The whole purpose of Septuagesima70 was to build on this ‘good will’; the desire to fast, combined with the difficulty of living in a Church and State so given over to satiety, and often excess.


For the experts in fasting


For those who are experienced “fast-ers” this is not necessarily for you. You have worked it out, and, please God, you have been able to avoid the ordinary pit-falls that first-timers can fall into with fasting. No doubt you are checked in your fasting by a superior or spiritual director or friend.


Can I ask one small favour from this group, the experienced “Fast-ers”? Please let the “newbies” discover their way through this programme. Why do I say this? Because it is tempting, though often well-intentioned, to overload new-comers with what they should be doing. There is an infinite level of material on the internet to do that. Here - and you want this - we are helping our brothers and sisters to come to fasting, to return to fasting, we are helping our fellow Church-goers to do this. They need your patience. You were them once. Every. One. Of. You. (Why do I make this last point? Because there is no-one who hasn’t been affected by the age and state of the Church, so even if there are some traditional people born into this, still at some stage they had to confront fasting, and it is a very personal and very particular journey. It is not general and there is no one-size-fits-all. Please recognise this. This is why we have the series of dispensations, which makes up for the lacuna of not having at hand spiritual directors and confessors who can ameliorate our excesses. Can we encourage others to do a little more fasting? Yes. Be very careful, however, with the newbies that your encouragement does not turn into a should…a slight difference).


For the newcomers


For those new, or relatively new to fasting, or those who may have fasted before, but not at this level, Septuagesima70 is for you. We are here to introduce you back into the joys of fasting, the necessity of fasting, and to encourage you to fast, especially because it is one of the most useful forms of petition.


Our Suggestions for Fasting in Septuagesima70


So here is one (let’s call it “ours”) little schema. Are there others? For sure! I will put some links at the bottom for you to check them out. This is ours. I can testify that this has worked for many from past Septuagesima70s. I hope it will work for you.


First Level:

(Abstinence only) Abstinence from Meat, no eating between meals (the barest minima: ideal for breastfeeding mothers or pregnant women).

Second Level:

(Fasting and Abstinence) Abstinence from Meat, no eating between meals; Under the schema “fasting” was traditionally understood the taking of only one full meal and two smaller, (meatless) meals that don't equal the large one meal. No eating between meals is allowed, but water, milk tea, and coffee are OK.


OR


B: (Fasting and Abstinence) Abstinence from Meat, no eating between meals; Fasting until sundown. While milk tea and coffee and water are encouraged, nothing else is eaten until sundown when a normal (meatless) meal is taken.

Third Level:

(Strict Fast): Abstinence from Meat, no eating between meals, and bread (no butter) and water, black tea and coffee.


Which do you choose? Well, that’s the glory of this: you choose! You choose, depending on your own personal circumstances, what you think you can do, while being encouraged by me and by Fr. Hamon, and by the liturgical season, to never just be satisfied by the first level (unless you are a young mother).


This week sees us celebrating the Ember days. You can find all the delicious information you might like to find about them at this wonderful post on fisheaters.com: https://fisheaters.com/emberdays.html


That means that this week we have fast days on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Phew! And so early on in our Lenten penance. That’s why we have exhortations. We can do this, we need to do this, for our sins, and the sins of the world. Yet in terms of what you do actually (and that can involve any number of considerations from the weather, to your health, to your family’s circumstances, to your weaknesses, to your strengths) you need to decide. Of course, if you want to discuss this reach out to me on Telegram or by email.


Blessed Ember and fast days to all!


Fr. Withoos

Chaplain




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