PENANCE: Fast and Pray

We all live in a world that has been contaminated by Original Sin, the archetypal sin of Adam and Eve that defines the condition in which we live. Our theology tells us that we are all born with Original Sin which keeps us from participating in the bounty that Jesus restored to us by his death on the cross and resurrection. Baptism, an act of faith of God in us with our response, wash away this Original Sin, but there is a catch.  The effects of the sin remain. We must die, there is behavior not consistent with who God is. We receive the Ten Commandments but struggle to keep them. With Christ, things become clearer. We now have a Mediator between us and God, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. True to the effects of Original Sin, we don’t all agree on what that is. There is confusion, conflicts, and positions that are contrary to the teachings of the Master.  One thing about religion, there always were conflicts, especially in the early church.  Google the various heresies. In the midst of this confusion, I find myself wanting to focus just on having in me the mind of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 2:5).  I have chosen the Cistercian approach to life (silence, solitude, prayer, work, and community) as a way for me to move from self to God. Along the way of my journey, there are great teachers that can help me struggle with living the Life of Christ. One such person is Pope Francis. Here is what he had to say about increasing love.

Pope Francis on Fasting and Prayer


Here are some penitential practices for all year long.


Pope Francis proposes these 15 simple acts of charity as concrete manifestations of love:

  1.  SMILE. A Christian is always cheerful
  2. Say THANK YOU for little things (even if you don’t have to).
  3. Remind others how much you LOVE them.
  4. GREET with joy the persons you see every day.
  5. LISTEN to other people’s stories without prejudice, and with love.
  6. STOP to help. Pay attention to whoever needs you.
  7. Try to RAISE the spirits of people around you.
  8. CELEBRATE the qualities or success of others, thus avoiding envy or jealousy.
  9. SORT OUT the things you no longer use or need, and give them to those in need.
  10. Be ready to HELP when you are needed so that others may rest.
  11. GIVE CORRECTIONS with love, do not keep quiet out of fear.
  12. Maintain good relations with those around you.
  13. Keep clean the things you use in the house.
  14. HELP others overcome obstacles.
  15. CALL, and call on, your parents more often.


  • Fast on offensive words and transmit only sweet and tender words
  • Fast on dissatisfaction and fill yourself with gratitude.
  • Fast on anger and fill yourself with meekness and patience.
  • Fast on pessimism and be filled with optimism
  • Fast on worries and be filled with confidence in God
  • Fast on laments and take pleasure in the simple things of life.
  • Fast on stress and fill yourself with prayer.
  • Fast on sadness and bitterness, and fill your heart with joy.
  • Fast on selfishness, and be filled with compassion for others.
  • Fast on unforgiveness and vendetta, and be filled with acts of reconciliation and forgiveness.
  • Fast on words and fill yourself with silence and readiness to listen to others.

If we all practice this style of fasting, our everyday will be filled with peace, joy, trust in each other, and life.

That in all things, may God be glorified. –St. Benedict

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