Archive for March 12th, 2021



Written by Peggy Stackle.

Fasting has not been a discipline of the Presbyterian denomination. But other traditions associate fasting with the season of Lent.  Here’s a little history of the practice from the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church: “Fasting, which was rigorously practiced in Judiasm and by the disciples of St. John the Baptist, was recommended by Christ both by example and teaching.  It was observed by the Apostles and in the early Church regular weekly fast days soon developed.  The fast of Lent…lasted originally only two days. During the early centuries the observance of the fast was very strict.  Only one meal a day, taken towards evening, was allowed, and fleshmeat and fish, and in most places also eggs and lacticinia (foods made from milk) were absolutely forbidden.  From the 9th century onwards the in the West, the practice began to be considerably relaxed.  The hour for breaking the fast was gradually anticipated to three o’clock in the afternoon, and by the 15th century it had become the general custom even for religious to eat at noon.  By the Apostolic Constitution Paenitemini (1966) in the Roman Catholic Church the obligation to fast was restricted to the first day of Lent and Good Friday.”

A coworker of mine was a Chaldean and in that tradition they fast regularly.  There is a soup/drink that they have on fast days.  It will never make the 100 best recipes on anybody’s list.  It was a relief when she told me that those over 50 are not required to fast.  It gets into too many health issues.  If you are motivated to try fasting for Lent, it’s best to check with your doctor first. “As a penitential practice, fasting is designed to strengthen the spiritual life by weakening the attractions of sensible pleasures.  The Lord Himself coupled it with prayer, and in the lives of the saints the two almost always go together.”


Written by Henri Jozef Nouwen(1932-1996), a Dutch priest, professor, writer, and theologian. This prayer is from “A Cry for Mercy: Prayers from the Genesee.”

 How often have I lived through these weeks without paying much attention to penance, fasting, and prayer? How often have I missed the spiritual fruits of the season without even being aware of it? But how can I ever really celebrate Easter without observing Lent? How can I rejoice fully in your Resurrection when I have avoided participating in your death? Yes, Lord, I have to die—with you, through you, and in you—and thus become ready to recognize you when you appear to me in your Resurrection. There is so much in me that needs to die: false attachments, greed and anger, impatience and stinginess…. I see clearly now how little I have died with you, really gone your way and been faithful to it. O Lord, make this Lenten season different from the other ones. Let me find you again. Amen.


Forty Days and Forty Nights. Journeysongs. The music for the hymn is attributed to Martin Herbst (1654-1681) and Paul Heinlein (1626-1681). The present harmonization was by William Henry Monk (1861).

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