Archive for February, 2008

Continue to fall short

Friday, February 8th, 2008

Well, while the fasting is going well, in fact I’m surprisingly not hungry considering my last meal was 27 hours ago (but who’s counting) and it was my only meal since Tuesday evening, the prayers are not going so well.

Last night I forgot to pray my Rosary.  It was my plan to pray it again with Gregory around 7 PM, but I was so exhausted in the evening that it slipped my mind.  To add insult to injury, while I managed to do the Reading of the Office for Ash Wednesday yesterday, I didn’t get to the Thursday set of prayers.  I managed to get the Thurday set in today and I’ll try to “catch up” this afternoon.

The Rosary on the other hand I’ll just have to miss and will plan on praying it tonight one day down.

A prayer for today:

Heavenly Father, forgive me my many failings and help me to grow stronger.  Help me to remember to keep you and my promises to you at the fore-front of my mind at all times and to faithfully follow Your Will at all times.  Help me to see Your Will in my life.  As with all my prayers, I ask this in Christ’s name, who lives and reigns together with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Liturgy of the Hours

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

Many don’t know what the Litury of the Hours is, so I thought I’d post about them.

The Liturgy of the Hours dates back to St. Benedict.  He desired that those who participated in the monastic life read the entire book of psalms (more accurately, prayed those psalms) every week.  As with most practices in the Church, over time the practice was broadened to include more of the Church and the pacing for reading the entire book was slowed to 4 weeks.  Again as time continued, there were additional prayers and readings that were added to round out the psalms making it more like a service than a private prayer.  Eventually the combined prayers, reading and psalms became the “official” daily prayer of the Church.

The prayers are broke up into a number of sessions throughout the day:

  • Morning Prayer
  • Reading of the Office (can be before or after Morning Prayer)
  • Daytime Prayer (which is further broken into Midmorning, Midday and Midafternoon)
  • Evening Prayer
  • Night Prayer

As you can see, it’s a nearly hourly set of prayers that are to be a constant presence in the life of those who participate in it.  Generally that means that it is limited to group participation in monastaries and convents or other communal living environments of faithful Catholics.  For the rest of us, including most priests and bishops, it is a private set of prayers that is done on one’s own.

The “Big 3 prayers” of the day are Morning Prayer, Reading of the Office, and Evening Prayer.  These three consist of a Hymm, a set of psalms to pray, a reading or two, and a closing prayer.  The reading is short for the Morning and Evening prayer and is lengthy for the Reading of the Office.  For the office, it generally consists of 1 Sunday Mass sized reading from scripture and 1 Homily/Sermon from a saint of old.

To give an example, the Reading of the office today consisted of reading psalm 103 in three parts (it’s a fairly long one, on other days you’ll read 3 separate psalms), a reading from Isaiah 12 and an excerpt from a letter to the Corinthians by Pope Clement (who was Pope from AD 88-97, or the 4th Pope and said to have been ordained (not as pope, but as either priest or bishop) by St. Peter himself).

The other three prayers are shorter in nature and forcus more exclusively on the psalms.

For me, although I have attempted to do all the prayers throughout the day, the reality is that someone with a growing family, a full-time job and more hobbies than he should, I just can’t find the time in the day to do all of the prayers.  As a result, I have limited my use of these prayers to the Reading of the Office.  While it means I don’t get the full set of psalms over the 4 weeks, I do get a very good sampling of them, as well as some wonderful readings both from scripture and many early fathers.

And as many have said, to read the early fathers shows just how Catholic the early Church was.

I already blew it

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

No, not on the fasting.  That I did great on, as far as execution goes (although I was VERY grumpy last night).  I also managed to get in my Rosary last night with Gregory at my side… he was fascinated by it and you could tell that he had vague memories from when he was less than a year old when I’d take him to daily Mass while Wendy was at work and then pray the Rosary (he’d play with the beads from inside his car carrier, just like he played with them last night, now as a 4 1/2 year old).

No, what I blew it on was the Litury of the Hours, Reading of the Office (which I called “Litury of the Office” in my original list).  I didn’t do my Ash Wednesday prayers.  I could say that I lost my prayer book, which is true until about 5 minutes ago when I realized it was hidden in a buried corner of my cubicle, but that would effectively be lying as I didn’t go looking for the book until this morning.

So today I’m going to read both yesterday’s and todays.

About the fasting, I weighed in at 276 this morning, 4 pounds less than yesterday’s 280.  That was before I ate my big breakfast (I didn’t weigh myself afterwards).  If I follow the trend of previous years, tomorrow I should be between level and down another pound or two.  After the first 4 or 5 days I’ll have dropped about 7-10 pounds and then lose another 10-20 over the 6 weeks of lent.  The thing about fasting is that you can literally feel your body eating away at itself.

Thankfully today I can drink all the water I want, which will both keep my hydrated (which should help with the headaches) and fill my stomack when I absolutely need something in there.

Join me in another prayer, will you?:

Lord, help me to fast not as the hypocrites but as a man desiring to grow closer to you.  Help me to remember the words of your prophet: “This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; Your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.” (Isaiah 58:6-8) to remind me that forgoing food alone is not enough, that I must also be an instrument of your justice in this world. Amen.

1st day is always the worst

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

I’m dying for something to drink, anything.  I’ve got a headache.  I’m starving.  And the worst part is I know that it’s only going to get worse until tomorrow morning when I have breakfast.  After that, I’ve got to “move” my meal back during the day.  So the plan for the next few days is breakfast Thursday, lunch Friday and dinner Saturday.  That helps so that the next time I’ve got something that will heavily tax me, I can move up the next meal the following day to get by.

But just like anything where one goes cold-turkey, the first day is the worst.  I start with the highest level of fasting on the first day, drop into an overly aggressive fasting to move it back in the day over the next few days before I can settle into a routine of having dinner every night.

So far, my crys for relief from God are still few and far between as my mind is more likely to crave than pray.  Say a prayer with me, will you?:

God, help me to find the strength you have provided me to fast.  Forgive me my sins and help me to remember those in need who are hungry through no fault of their own.  Give me the grace to fast as Christ reminds us: “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” (Matt. 6:16-18). Amen

Blogging for Lent

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

I doubt there is anyone out there reading this who isn’t coming from my Cal blog (, but starting today, this blog is back.  Today is, of course, Ash Wednesday.  I will be commenting daily on my Lenten fasting as well as generally my spiritual progress.  I may also post on current events as they relate to Catholicism.

For Lent, I intend to accomplish the following things:

  • Pray the Rosary daily
  • Pray the Liturgy of the Office daily
  • Participate in Stations of the Cross at least twice
  • Go to confession
  • Fast for the entire period of Lent

For those who don’t know the guidelines of fasting in the Catholic Church, they are as follows:

  • You are allowed one meal a day
  • You can have up to two snacks, which combined do not add up to another meal
  • There is no explicit guidelines regarding drink, but it is considered “bad form” to be drinking filling items such as a smoothy or shake or even a soda and not be counting that towards the snack
  • Meat is allowed in the meal except for days of abstinence (like Fridays during Lent)

I will not be having either of the allowed snacks and will only be drinking water.  On manditory fasting days (of which today, Ash Wednesday is one of the two), I will abstain from all food and water for the entire day.

Fasting is VERY difficult for me.  I’m a big guy.  This morning I weighed in at 280 lbs.  I expect that by Easter day I should weigh in at somewhere between 250 and 260 lbs.  This is not a diet!  I fully expect to gain at least half of that weight back in the following week.  But as the body is denied food, it eats into one’s muscles and fat as well as one’s organs like the Liver to get the calories it isn’t getting from food.  The muscles aspect should not be overlooked as I often feel very phsyically weak during fasting.

So why do I do it?

Well, it’s hard to explain in a paragraph but I think the simplest way to state it is that there is no better way to connect with God than to put oneself entirely in His hands.  There is NO WAY I could fast for that long without prayer and asking Him for the strength and determination it takes to deny oneself food that the body desperately wants.  Since over the course of time and routine it is easy to loose that tight connection I’ve had with God, it is important I find ways to re-connect and for me, fasting is by far the best at helping me to do that.

For all those who pray, I’d be blessed if you could offer up a prayer for my well-being during this fast and that it strengthens my relationship with Our Savior.