Reflection: A Time of Unselfish Fasting

Steven Pavignano, OFM Features

As the 40-day journey to Easter begins next week, Steven Pavignano, OFM, shares thoughts about the importance of sacrifice and he contemplates the meaning and origins of the Lenten fasting tradition. This reflection originally appeared in the Feb. 4 bulletin of St. Joseph Parish and St. Maximillian Kolbe Parish in Orlando, Fla., where Steven is stationed. 

How serious will we take this Holy Season? Will it truly prepare us to celebrate the Triduum*?

We are usually asked to “sacrifice” during Lent, a custom that is frequently seen as “giving up” something for the Lenten season. Unfortunately, it is usually something trivial like eating candy or watching something on television, saying a few extra prayers, or something similar, but sacrifice is much more serious.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “sacrifice” as “an act of offering to a deity something precious; especially: the killing of a victim on an altar 2: something offered in sacrifice 3: destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else b: something given up or lost.” (Underlining mine)

Note the words I underlined in the definition of “sacrifice.” That which is “sacrificed” is “precious” not frivolous; “offered” means given away; “destruction or surrender” – cannot be taken back or returned.

I suggest the sacrifice of “positive use of time.”

During Lent, let us devote ourselves to seeking the Lord in prayer and reading the Scripture, to service by giving alms, and to practicing self-control through fasting.

Many know of the tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent, but we are also called to practice self-discipline and to fast in other ways throughout the season.

Contemplate the meaning and origins of the Lenten fasting tradition in this reflection.

In addition, the giving of alms is one way to share God’s gifts, not only through the distribution of money but through the sharing of our time and talents.

As St. John Chrysostom reminds us, “Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2446).

Have a wonderful sacrificial season of Lent preparing to celebrate our Savior’s “sacrifice” — his death due to our sinning.

*Triduum is (are) our High Holy Day(s) that is, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and through Easter evening.

The reason I write with singular (plural) is that we start the Holy Thursday Service with a greeting but there is no ending, Good Friday has neither a welcome nor closing and the Easter Vigil does not have a welcome but does have a closing.

So, the Triduum is pretty much one service over three days. This (These) is (are) our High Holy Day(s). Please plan to celebrate the Triduum.

— Fr. Steven is parochial vicar of St. Joseph Parish and St. Maximillian Kolbe Parish in Orlando, Fla. He was pastor of St. Clare Parish in Buffalo, N.Y., from 2011 until 2016 when it merged with St. Teresa Parish. The previous reflection, about the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, was written by Kevin Mackin, OFM.

Editor’s note: Friars interested in writing a reflection for HNP Today on a timely topic – a holiday, current event, holy day, or other seasonal themes – are invited to contact the HNP Communications Office at Additional reflections by friars can be found on the Spiritual Resources page of the HNP website. 

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