Lent is upon us. It’s again that season where we practice discipline and self-denial as a way to get over ourselves, not emphasizing the physical, but building up the interior, spiritual, power of the will. This is so we can focus on God’s will, giving own will more fully to the will of God. One of the ways that we are going to practice self-denial as a parish this year will be a fast from donuts. We’re not going to have donuts for a couple of reasons.
The first being, it’s just right and fitting to remember that Jesus is the reason we’re coming to Church. Our worship of God is important. I know that you all know that. I know that lots of parents might incentivize good behavior by the offering of a donut after Mass. Incentives work, at least partially. But parents, let’s try this Lent to take the time to teach the young ‘uns some proper behavior for the sake of proper behavior. Praise your kids, loving them up when they are good in Church. And then lovingly encouraging them to do better next time if they’re less than good. I recognize parents that you’re already training your children in this way. Just keep it up, knowing that it will make a difference. And if you need an disincentive for bad behavior, tell the kids that I’ll preach even longer week after week until they behave. The threat of that might make the behavior of a lot of adults prayerfully improve too. (I know that some of you all are checking emails and baseball scores on your phones. So let me loving encourage you to knock it off.)
The second reason we’re going to take a break from donuts is practical. We need to build up a volunteer base to expand our after Mass hospitality. When Easter arrives, after the fasting, the donuts will taste even better. And we’d like to organize a group of volunteers that might also provide coffee with the donuts. We’d like to make the social time after Mass even more vibrant. So during this Lenten season, I’ll be praying, and the staff will be working to organize the “donut ministry”. If you feel called to help with this at a Mass once a month, please let me know. If this ministry develops well during Lent, donuts will be back on Sunday, April 19th. Oh what a day of rejoicing for the Lord has risen and we once again enjoy the delights of this world with renewed spirits!
Finally, below is a traditional way of reasoning on the practice of fasting, provided by the Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann.
“Christian tradition can name at least seven reasons for fasting:
From the beginning, God commanded some fasting, and sin entered into the world because Adam and Eve broke the fast.
For the Christian, fasting is ultimately about fasting from sin.
Fasting reveals our dependence on God and not the resources of this world.
Fasting is an ancient way of preparing for the Eucharist—the truest of foods.
Fasting is preparation for baptism (and all the sacraments)—for the reception of grace.
Fasting is a means of saving resources to give to the poor.
Fasting is a means of self-discipline, chastity, and the restraining of the appetites.”
Alexander Schmemann, “Notes in Liturgical Theology,” St. Vladimir’s Seminary Quarterly, Vol. 3, No. 1, Winter 1959, pp. 2-9.