Fasting, the Poor and Pope Benedict XVI

Fasting, the Poor and Pope Benedict XVI

Trey By Trey Gross
What marvelous wisdom the Church has in bestowing to us the season of Lent. Like fall, or winter, the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit helps us grow in ways that are impossible in other seasons.

We have been given Lent to again encounter the Word of God – Jesus in the flesh. The savior of man “knocks at the door of our hearts” (Revelation 3:20). We must make a decision to open the door to Christ – to give it all this Lent.

As many of us have heard through years of catechesis and long homilies, Lent “sets before us again three penitential practices that are very dear to the Biblical and Christian tradition: prayer, almsgiving, and fasting” (Benedict XVI, Message for Lent 2009).

I will focus on fasting – something that is counter-cultural and involves discipline. Fasting, a practice done by Jesus and the early Christians, prepares us for the mission of being a Christian in daily life. Fasting should not be egotistically driven – not for the sake of “pushing the body beyond limits” or being “healthier” as some do in giving up unhealthy foods. Fasting, which no one claims is easy, instead allows us to listen to the son of God – “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.” (Benedict XVI, Message for Lent 2009)

Fasting also helps us serve the poor and comfort the afflicted. Fasting is a practice that we can participate in which makes a statement – that we desire not to be strangers with the poor, but to be in solidarity with them. “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” (Benedict XVI, Message for Lent 2009).

Do you want to come close to the poor? Take Benedict’s advice – make fasting a foundation for your Lent. Be prudent in how you decide to fast – but be bold. Find other people who will fast with you to keep you accountable.

This season of training in the Christian Life should be taken seriously. I hope you ardently and decisively choose to participate in Lent this year with prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. May God bless you!

To read Benedict XVI Message for Lent 2009, click here.

Trey Gross is from Mobile, Alabama and an alum of Auburn University. He enjoys sweet tea, hiking, the Rosary and running. To read more from Trey, see his blog, The Joyful Pilgrim.

Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

By Blake Brouillette

Comfort. No, I’m not talking about your favorite recliner or a perfect fall Saturday. I’m talking about the thing that prevents you from being the best version of yourself, from taking risks. I’m talking about what prevents you from achieving your dreams, goals and improving your quality of life.

How could a word that carries so many warm and fuzzy feelings be so harmful? But life isn’t about feelings. I’ve realized this many times during the past few months as a Christ in the City missionary in Denver.

Comfort sneaks up on us. It’s enjoyable and satisfies us with our current situations in life. It isn’t risky, and is a cushion to our problems and obstacles. We know what to expect with life on a daily basis, and we get into a routine where we feel productive and fulfilled.

In my first 22 years of life, I had built up an incredibly comfortable life and community in Nebraska. Realistically I had no reason to leave. I had job offers, a strong support group, friends, family, a life that I had worked hard to build up and a state I love filled with people I love even more. Little did I know, God placed all this comfort in my life with the next step in mind.

“The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness,” said Pope Benedict XVI.

Before Christ in the City, I never actually thought about what this meant. A life of comfort will never completely fulfill us. I thought I understood this.

What I was completely blowing off was my understanding of what it would take to progress to greatness. I didn’t realize many of the decisions I was making in life were based on comfort. Comfort subtly became my motivation.

We like to be able to control and predict the outcome of our choices. The less risky and safe decisions are appealing. I’m not talking about life and death situations here, I’m talking about the things we face daily and are easy to take the comfortable way out. Perhaps it’s inviting a new friend to come hang out, saying hi to a stranger on an elevator, smiling at someone as you cross paths, going out of your way to help someone who is struggling, talking to a homeless person on the street, confronting someone who needs help or has been bothering you, going the extra mile or taking on a project that will challenge you – these are just a few of the examples we encounter that require a decision from us.

Magnanimity: the beast of a word that is going to be the answer to the issue of comfort. Get familiar with this word, love this word and let this word guide your decisions on a daily basis. Magnanimity is one of the core values at Christ in the City and a core value I have adopted for my life. It is the virtue of seeking excellence in all things, challenging ourselves to do things when we don’t know if we can, taking that extra step in life and making the decision to go above and beyond.

Living by this virtue is not easy. However through the challenges and difficulties you find a full life knowing you gave everything you had and discovered who you are.

It’s time we started living magnanimously.

Begin small and progress one step at a time. We all have those things that we place in the “someday” category, and that someday is now. Chase your dreams, take risks, set your goals high, and make the decision to improve your life. With every failure and uncomfortable situation, you are one step closer to the best version of yourself.