The New Gasparian
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A journal dedicated to the life and mission of St. Gaspar del Bufalo, and to a life lived in response to the call and the cry of the Most Precious Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our on-going mission is to share good news of hope and communion.

Thursday, March 06, 2003
Friday after Ash Wednesday

The Readings
Isaiah 58: 1-9 This is the fasting I desire.
Psalm 51, A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
Matt 9:14-15 Time will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, then they will fast.

St. Gaspar
God, indeed, who brings things to maturity, requires us to be patient for his works are generated and cultivated through thorns, crosses, and all sorts of hardships that accompany a ministry of the primary and essential relationship in the Church of Jesus Christ. "Faith comes through hearing...

With regard to periods of fasting, this can be examined at a later time. In the meantime, their interior attitudes should be set deeply within, like mysterious roots of mystical plants. Allow them to grow to maturity, and all things in due time. For the time being, therefore, they should adapt to a mitigated rule to rescue them from the sense of guilt. We shall climb Jacob's ladder very gradually, step by step.

On this the first of the Friday's in Lent the readings emphasize the ancient discipline of fasting. Jesus indicates to the Pharisees that they are asking the wrong question. They were concerned about an exterior practice. The ancient prophet had described fasting as communion with those most in need, and now Jesus invites them to pay attention to an essential and primary relationship with the bridegroom. Clearly fasting has something to do with relationship, relationship with those in need and relationship with the Lord.

When involved in any relationship it is often true that we must fast from our own ideas and opinions in order to listen to another. We have to let go of our own expectations in order to receive the other as they are, not as we imagine them to be. If we live in a land of plenty and anything is available to us anytime we want it, we are filled, satisfied, in need of nothing and no one else. If we fast from these things, possibly we could hunger for something greater, more satisfying.

So then, fasting is deeply connected with what Gaspar calls a primary and essential relationship with Christ. The readings and prayers from the tradition ensure that we know the meaning of these ancient practices. These are not practices to be pursued so that we might be perfect in penitential practice, but as a means to our on-going conversion to the Lord. It is less important that we fulfill ancient discipline than that the fasting lead us to this essential relationship. It is more than abstaining from food and drink. It is also sharing that food with the poor, and acting on behalf of justice. The presence of Jesus in our lives has enormous consequences for how we live, and St. Gaspar invites us to take up the hardships that accompany the building of the Kingdom of God. Fasting is not easy, and we shy away from it in this land of plenty. Relationships are not easy either and we can be tempted to shy away from the hard work. St. Gaspar assures us the way to heaven is strewn with thorns and crosses, but they lead us to this primary relationship. We enter more deeply into our Lenten fast, knowing that this practice must also include practical help for others, establishing the justice God's heart desires.

• What am I giving up for Lent this year?
• How might I direct this fast toward God?
• What would it be like to hunger for God alone?

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 11:01 PM link
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Following is the statement of Cardinal Pio Laghi, papal envoy to President George Bush following their meeting at the White House.

Cardinal Pio Laghi
March 5, 2003

I was privileged to have been sent by the Holy Father as his Special Envoy to President George Bush. I assured him of the Holy Father's great esteem and affection for the American people and the United States of America.

The purpose of my visit was to deliver a personal message of the Holy Father to the President regarding the Iraqi crisis, to expound upon the Holy See's position and to report on the various initiatives undertaken by the Holy See to contribute to disarmament and peace in the Middle East.

Out of respect for the President and because of the importance of this moment, I am not in a position to discuss the substance of our conversation, nor am I able to release the text of the personal letter of the Holy Father to the President.

The Holy See is urging those in positions of civil authority to take fully into account all aspects of this crisis. In that regard, the Holy See’s position has been two-fold. First, the Iraqi government is obliged to fulfill completely and fully its international obligations regarding human rights and disarmament under the UN resolutions with respect for international norms. Second, these obligations and their fulfillment must continue to be pursued within the framework of the United Nations.

The Holy See maintains that there are still peaceful avenues within the context of the vast patrimony of international law and institutions which exist for that purpose. A decision regarding the use of military force can only be taken within the framework of the United Nations, but always taking into account the grave consequences of such an armed conflict: the suffering of the people of Iraq and those involved in the military operation, a further instability in the region and a new gulf between Islam and Christianity.

I want to emphasize that there is great unity on this grave matter on the part of the Holy See, the Bishops in the United States, and the Church throughout the world.

I told the President that today, on Ash Wednesday, Catholics around the world are following the Pope’s request to pray and fast for peace this day. The Holy Father himself continues to pray and hope that all leaders who face difficult decisions will be inspired in their search for peace.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 6:47 AM link
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