Q: Why do we fast on Fridays during Lent?
A: Fasting and abstaining are both profound gifts of the Church for they train our focus on the most important things in life. Both remind us that Jesus is the center of our lives. In the Lenten season, the two principal days of fasting are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday in which we do not eat in-between meals and are very moderate in how much we consume during those meals. In the United States, we, of course, abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays throughout the Lenten season. Moreover, many continue to abstain from meat on Fridays throughout the rest of the year as well. To abstain from meat, we exercise a penitential practice, preparing our hearts to receive Jesus, for fasting reminds us that Jesus gave his entire self, so that you and I may have eternal life with him. The practice of fasting and abstinence is the fourth precept of the Church, and when we embrace this practice, we acquire mastery over ourselves and acquire freedom of the heart. Of course, in the end, our hearts are always for Jesus.
Q: Is Jesus considered a saint?
A: Jesus is the source of all saintliness or holiness. A saint is a holy one of God who is in union with God through the grace of Jesus Christ. In other words, all saints embrace the way of Jesus Christ and imitate him and the Church. The Church acknowledges the individual as a saint as having received the reward of eternal life. This recognition occurs at the person’s canonization. A contemporary example is that of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who will be canonized by Pope Francis on Sept. 4, in which our Holy Father will state that Teresa of Calcutta is a saint. On a personal note, I am so grateful to have had the grace to meet Mother Teresa some 20 years ago.
Q: I understand why God lets things happen to people and between people. But why does God let natural disasters happen to us?
A: This is a very good question, for we know that God loves us more deeply than you and I can imagine. However, we also live in a fallen world, which was severely damaged by Original Sin. As a result, we are at the mercy of the elements, as well as the laws of physics in this world, including the universe in which we find ourselves. The journey we travel is with God, and these moments of natural disasters in which many, many people fall victim are in great need of our missionary outreach. Victims of such natural calamities provide you and me the opportunity to exercise our Christian charity by reaching out to them to the point of sacrificing what we have in this world in order that they may receive comfort and compassion. We live in a time in which Jesus Christ is making all things new, and he is doing it through you and me, instructing us all the while to reach out to our brothers and sisters who suffer. In Jesus’ sermons and teachings, he acknowledges the disasters that can happen in this world and all the more reason for you and me to reach out to our brothers and sisters in need. While we do not wish for others to suffer, we must recognize these moments as o c c a s i o n s for charitable works of mercy. God has given you and me the ability to assist those afflicted by natural disasters in order that we may come closer together as a family made in God’s image and likeness. In this Confirmation season, and as we approach the solemnity of the Ascension this Sunday, (May 8) and subsequently Pentecost Sunday, the next Sunday (May 15), you and I can meditate on the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit we receive at Confirmation, and God gives us the will and the intellect on how we may employ those spiritual gifts.
May you and your family have a blessed Ascension Sunday!
To “Ask the Bishop,” direct questions to, Diocese of Steubenville Office of Christian Formation and Schools – P.O. Box 969, Steubenville, OH 43952; (740) 282-3631.
The "Ask the Bishop Question Form" can be found here.