4 Facts about Fasting
Watch this short video on the four facts about fasting by Chris Stefanick.
Aside from fasting from food and abstinence from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, the spirit of fasting goes beyond merely depriving ourselves of food. The act of fasting is an act of emptying ourselves in order to make more room for God in our lives. It is an act that tells us that we're okay even when we don't eat as much or when we do not snack at all as we focus our minds and hearts to the Lord.
Eating can often become a mindless activity that fills our boredom. Fasting reminds us that our core belongs to God and that we ought to be detached from whatever distracts us in order to be fully attached to God, to be grounded in Him.
As we fast and abstain from meat, we detach ourselves from our usual comforts and open our minds and hearts to the needs of others, especially to those who are suffering from the ravages of war. We unite our prayers in solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters as we turn our backs on our petty concerns.
This is the spiritual workout which will help us to become saints... no longer focused on ourselves but on God and with the needs of those who are suffering.
Consider this... This sounds noble... "I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.”" (Luke 18:12) but this was the line of the Pharisee who did the right thing but did not have the right heart.
Let our fasting be one that will change the heart and the mind... may our fasting help to free us as we have been made to be free to honour and worship God.
In this very short video of Chris Stefanick, he uses a line that should make us think about our ability to not only gauge where others are but also set the stage for where others can and perhaps should be. Chris reminds the students that they have the power to bring joy in the lives of others, that we are all called to serve others in humility.
So he says, "Don't be a thermometer that gauges the temperature of that room. Be a thermostat that sets the temperature of that room."
Isn't this true? We can choose to either be passive and we become bystanders in life, or we can choose to be active and contribute to the life of others. Christ calls us to be "salt" that changes the flavour of everything.
Consider this... Does the room turn dark when you enter or does it light up when you're around? Are you remembered for your kindness and concern for others or do you just like to blend in and disappear? Christ calls us to be more!
You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
We live in a very connected world. We hear about the bad things happening across the world in an instant. Good and heartwarming videos can easily go viral. And yet sometimes it feels like the people you live with do not even know what you're going through. While it certainly feels like you are alone, you are not alone! Watch this video on mental health and know that there are many who feel disconnected, lost, and isolated.
It's important that we reach out to someone and try our best to overcome the hesitation to talk to someone. If you need to speak to someone in the field of mental health, or visit this link for information. Alternatively, you can call 211 to access services that may make you realize that you are not alone and there is help available for whatever burdens you.
Contact 211 to access to an entire network of community, social, health and government services. Your call, text or chat will be answered by a professional 211 Community Resource Specialist who is trained to assess your need and refer you to the most appropriate service or services. 211 is available across Alberta and is offered in over 170 languages over the phone.
Why would I contact 211?
Consider this... we are made to walk this life together.
Our homes hold a lot of what is near and dear to us. For starters, our family. The home provides shelter for the people we love.
Aside from our belongings which we need in order to function in life, our home is a shelter for the things that define us, objects that hold special meanings. Be it a special painting, a family heirloom, or that memorable walkman from the 80s.
In a Catholic home, some of the objects that hold special meaning to us are holy images or religious articles that help us think of God and the communion of the saints and the angels.
Some Catholic homes have home altars or prayer corners/rooms where the family can spend time of prayer, meditation, or teaching the Faith. This YouTube vlogger, A Catholic Mom's Life, features her prayer room as a place not only to pray but also to read and hang-out as a family apart from the living room or the kitchen.
Tips for starting your home altar/prayer corner or room...
Having a home altar or prayer corner/room can help us consciously make room for God in our lives.
Consider this... Our homes should be a refuge, a place where everyone can come home to rest, to be nourished, and to be re-energized for the next day. Carve a place for prayer and let the peace of Christ dwell in your house.
For you have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat." Isaiah 25:4
Catholics, or Christians in general, can sometimes forget that we are both body and soul as human beings. We are not spiritual beings like the angels even when our human nature also has a spiritual dimension. We are human beings beautifully made by God, body and soul.
How we see and treat ourselves will often shape how we see and treat others.
Christ became one of us as a human being, body and soul, in His incarnation while continuing to be God at the same time. He even bothered to be raised both in body and soul in His resurrected state because we matter. We matter to God both in body and soul and only death separates both from each other. Thus, the Lord opens for us the path of the resurrection to eternal life.
Are you always running late?
If you struggle with always being late.... It's a new year and an opportunity for an improved version of you!
Watch this video and learn from Jackie Angel (Ascension Press) on some practical tips on how to overcome this bad habit.
How to combat this habit?
Source: Jackie Angel, Ascension Press
Watch this video and learn about a very simple financial principle that will require some discipline to live faithfully.
*The video is used for illustration purposes and is not an endorsement of the financial institution.
We must all live within our means. Even with more money, without any clear purpose, we can spend more than we make. Without this clear purpose, we can get into debt which causes a lot of negative impact on our spiritual, mental, and even physical well being.
Let's keep these in mind:
Consider this... does your money own you or do you use your money to serve God and His purpose for you?
Honour the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine." Proverbs 3:9-10
Christmas is a season
Christmas is a season and not just a day. Watch this video and learn more about the days of Christmas.
Consider these during the Christmas season
Celebrate how blessed we are with the gift of the Christ child not in a day but for a season. He is Immanuel, God-with-us.
Feasts during the Christmas season are about family, friendship, and the expression of gratitude, but for many of us, often these feasts can lead to overeating.
Watch the thought-provoking video by Fr. Mark Mary of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal on our relationship with food, material attachments, and our sisters and brothers in need.
Consider these when eating especially during the Christmas season...
Share with others the gift of food, made with an abundance of love.
Better is a dinner of vegetables where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it."
In his recent apostolic visit to Cyprus and Greece, Pope Francis addressed the youth...
"Realize that your worth is in who you are and not what you have. Your worth is not in the brand of the dress or shoes you wear, but because you are unique.
Here I think of another ancient image, that of the sirens. Like Odysseus on his voyage home, in the course of this life, which is an adventure-filled journey to the Father’s House, you too will come across sirens. In mythology, the sirens by their songs enchanted sailors and made them crash against the rocks.
Today’s sirens want to charm you with seductive and insistent messages that focus on easy gains, the false needs of consumerism, the cult of physical wellness, of entertainment at all costs... All these are like fireworks: they flare up for a moment, but then turn to smoke in the air. I understand, they are not easy to resist."
(Athens, December 6, 2021)
Consider these during Advent...
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4
In 2017, Canada Post broke a record for most parcels delivered in a day - 1.83 million. And this was pre-COVID. Watch this video and learn the best options out there for your Christmas shopping.
Consider these for faithful living:
Remember that Christmas ends after the the feast of the Baptism of the Lord on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. It does not matter what you give as presents for others. It's the heart and thought behind the gifts that matter.
Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7
Faithful Living: Biodiversity
Often our "privatized" and individualistic mentality or lifestyle can make us believe that we live in isolation, and that our lifestyle choices only affect ourselves individually, "My choices, my life." But we belong to one another and no matter how private our actions are, they affect others through a ripple effect either directly or indirectly. If we believe that our life and all of creation are gifts from God, we owe it to God to care for one another by caring and preserving our biodiversity.
Fundamentally, we depend entirely on the planet’s living systems for survival. We’re a part of these systems and we cannot exist without them. The better we understand how the systems of life work, the more sustainably we can live. The less we know, the more likely we’re going to continue causing irreparable damage to Earth’s ecosystems. (Source: Dr. Peter Raven).
Ecological destruction and the loss of biodiversity obscure our ability to see and experience God, and are an affront to the Creator. The fate of the natural world and human life are fully intertwined. Ecological destruction harms human life, and human social injustice inevitably has ecological consequences. Source:Celebrate Life: Care of Creation, 1998, The Bishops of Alberta and NWT.
Consider these for faithful living:
Fast fashion and textile waste
One major contributor to the world's waste problem is fast fashion and textile waste. An average person throws away 37 kg of textiles annually and North American send over 10 million tonnes of clothing to landfill every year. Globally, new garments produced annually now exceeds 100 billion, double the amount compared to the year 2000. (Source: WCWRCanada)
This infographic tells the story of textiles in Canada, from the first shoemaker to what it will take for our circular textile future.
Consider these for faithful living:
Faithful Living: E-Waste
Every year a significant proportion of electronic waste (E-waste) is exported from high-income countries like Canada to lower-income countries. There, e-waste is dismantled, recycled and refurbished in environments where infrastructure, training and environmental and health safeguards may be non-existent. (Source: WHO)
The eye-opening video documentary: Welcome to Sodom - shows how children and adolescents in Agbogbloshie, a waste site in Ghana, dismantle recycled electronics in toxic smoke. Here, a child eating just one local chicken egg will absorb 220 times of the daily limit for intake of chlorinated dioxins.
But there is hope. And it can start with us. This infographic tells the story of E-Waste, from the invention of the telephone, to the story of the first electronics recycling program in Alberta, and to what it will take for a circular future.
Consider these for faithful living
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers