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KNOCK, CLAREMORRIS,

CO. MAYO, IRELAND.

 

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LENT

This year Ash Wednesday falls on 14th February and ushers in a period of extra prayer and fasting.

In the Night Office of the Church we listen as the Prophet Isaias tells us the kind of fasting the Lord wants of us. Fasting from food, yes, but more importantly -

"Is not this the kind of fast that pleases Me - it is the Lord who speaks - to break unjust fetters, to let the oppressed go free, to share your bread with the hungry and shelter the homeless poor, to clothe the man you see to be naked ... Then your light will arise in the darkness and your shadows will become like noon. The Lord will always guide you."

 

If we had the courage to put this advice into practice we would see it literally fulfilled.

For his part, the poet Robert Herrick gives us some mildly humorous advice if cutting down on food is our priority!

 


Is this a Fast: to keep the larder lean and clean
From fat of veals and sheep?
Is it to quit the dish of flesh and still to fill

the platter high with fish?
Is it to fast an hour, or ragged to go, or show
a downcast look and sour?
No: 'tis a fast to dole thy sheaf of wheat and meat
Unto a hungry soul.
It is to fast from strife and old debate, and hate;
to circumcise thy life.
To show a heart grief-rent; to starve thy sin, not bin;
And that's to keep thy Lent.

 

The gospel of the Mass for the First Sunday of Lent tells of the temptations of Jesus in the desert. And, in the daily Office for Lent, the Invitation Prayer says:

"Christ the Lord was tempted and suffered for us. Come let us adore Him."

For ourselves too, Lent is often a time of temptation. This need not surprise nor frighten us, for temptation is an opportunity to make choices and decisions and God's grace will never fail us.
As a prayer for the 3rd Sunday of Lent has it:

"Keep watch over us, Jesus, eternal Saviour, do not let the cunning tempter have power over us, for You have become our Helper at all times."

 

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