Catholics urged to fast starting Ash Wednesday

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MANILA, Feb. 12, 2013—Fasting and abstinence on meat are often observed during Fridays and throughout the Holy Week but a Church official reminded the lay faithful that the sacrifice has to begin on Ash Wednesday as a fitting start of the Lenten season.

Lenten season come and go every year but the lay faithful continues to forget the “invitation to take only one full meal on Ash Wednesday,” according to Fr. Conegundo Garganta, executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY).

(Photo: Roy Lagarde/CBCPMedia)

In an interview with YouthPinoy, Garganta said the lay faithful, especially the young, should be reminded that aside from going to church on a holy day of obligation and having their foreheads marked with ashes, they are called to give up food as a form of sacrifice on the first day of Lent.

“During Ash Wednesday, there is a basic invitation to take only one full meal as a form of sacrifice for the day. It is up to you to choose which meals you will give up. But whatever savings you gain for giving up two other full meals are meant to be shared with others,” he said.

But the priest admitted that fasting would be overly difficult because of the Lent’s coincidence with graduation parties, fiestas, vacation and other festive occasions that encourage sharing of bountiful food. Garganta said he is not discouraging the lay to participate in the occasions but advised them to limit their attendance to the most important ones.

“There really are many opportunities to gather together and share meals during the Lenten season. We are not saying they should not attend these occasions but we are advising them to attend those that are the meaningful ones,” he added.

But when in parties or festive occasions, abstaining on few alcoholic beverages or soda can still be a way of fasting, according to Garganta.

Reunion for a cause

And while occasions to reunite with family and friends abound during Lent or towards the summer season, Garganta encouraged the lay, especially the elders, to use this opportunity to teach the young the value of sacrifice.

He said the Lenten invitation to fast and to give alms to the poor can be observed in many ways than one, including sponsoring a feeding program where the reunited family members or friends can organize themselves to cook and distribute porridge to malnourished children in a poor community nearest their settings.

“Lent is the time when elders can encourage the young to see the beauty of doing sacrifice. They themselves should practice it and provide good witnessing to the youth,” he added.

Reunions of relatives and friends could be spent on spiritual recollection, Bible study and other activities that put more stress on the meaning of the Lenten season. (YouthPinoy) 

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