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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
               Wednesday, November 14 2001  

No fast, no feast; last in series

Though it's no full remedy, getting older does have the side benefit of getting wiser. At least one hopes. As a green lad at Big Bend School it was too easy to scoff at a Catholic neighbor's resolution to give up chewing gum for Lent. Chewing gum was no sacrifice, even for its most diehard users. And what's more, who can even attempt to give up anything for God when it is He who gave His all for us? Both thoughts have some rational validity, but they miss the point of the fast.

The fast is not undertaken for God's sake, but for our own training. Anything "given up" for lent or even keeping the overnight communion fast is not a sacrifice in any priestly sense, even if we are all priests and kings in God's peoplehood (Exodus 19:5-7). And it's not for the credit or a heavenly crown that fasting might earn, but for the joy we receive in celebrating the feast that is pointed toward by the time of staying hungry. If a rich acquaintance offers to treat you to dinner at the best restaurant in the state, won't you give up some of the junk food that might keep you from hunger pangs on most afternoons, knowing that a good appetite will enhance the special treat even more? You might even skip lunch. That's just a hint of what fasting really is for.

There's no way of knowing what my neighbor's thinking was 45 years ago (he passed off this mortal coil much too early), but after learning a little more about life, I can imagine a scenario in which his priest was challenging the boys in the CYO or possibly the altar boys' society, or even in his Sunday sermon, to take the lenten fast to heart and abstain from something they would notice more than meat on Fridays. Maybe he suggested giving up cigarettes (most high school boys smoked in those days), alcohol, or profanities and vanities (2 Timothy 2:15-17). My acquaintance may have listened to that and responded by, "I don't have any of those vices...does chewing gum count?" The "giving up" is not the point, it's the reminder every time you want to indulge your appetite to pray and lean on God more than comforting food or vices. Even inconveniencing yourself by exercising the discipline of using nondairy whitener in your coffee helps keep the season of preparation in mind.

Tomorrow is the first day of Advent, the traditional 40-day preparation, anticipation, and hungering for the Nativity Feast on December 25. Beginning tomorrow, our daily inspirations will be Advent Thoughts,

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Webmaster Jon Kennedy

More cards for when you don't care enough (last of series)...

"Your friends and I wanted to do something special for your birthday-so we're having you put to sleep."

"Happy Birthday, Uncle Dad!" (available only in Arkansas & Mississippi)

—Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for the day

Always guard against self-chosen service for God. Self-sacrifice may be a disease that impairs your service. If God has made your cup sweet, drink it with grace; or even if He has made it bitter, drink it in communion with Him. If the providential will of God means a hard and difficult time for you, go through it. But never decide the place of your own martyrdom, as if to say, "I will only go to there, but no farther." God chose the test for Abraham, and Abraham neither delayed nor protested, but steadily obeyed. If you are not living in touch with God, it is easy to blame Him or pass judgment on Him. You must go through the trail before you have any right to pronounce a verdict, because by going through the trial you learn to know God better. God is working in us to reach His highest goals until His purpose and our purpose become one.

Oswald Chambers
Sent by Judy Martin

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