Ash Wednesday: Fasting and Praying with Christ in the Desert

“Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting.” -St. Peter Chrysologus “Do you wish your prayer to fly toward God? Make for it two wings: fasting and almsgiving.” – St. Augustine 

Today is Ash Wednesday, which in the Western Church marks the start of the 40-day penitential season of Lent before Good Friday and Easter. It is a day to fast, pray, and remember that all of us will one day die and, when our bodies return to dust, we will face God’s judgment seat.

In recognition of this reality, the priest marks our foreheads with ashes, and reminds us, “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (See Gen. 2:7.) The saints long held that Christians should frequently meditate on death, not because they were morbid, but because we need to remember all human life on earth is temporary and could end in a second at any time…

Jesus fasted while on earth, though sinless. Like Jesus, who fasted 40 days in the desert and resisted the devil’s temptations to worldly power and luxury (Matt. 4), we do penance for 40 days to help us resist temptation, detach from worldly things, make up in a small way for our sins, and be piously prepared for the celebration of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection.

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Posted by CatSalgado32

Catherine Salgado is a columnist for The Rogue Review, a Writer for MRC Free Speech America, and writes her own Substack, Pro Deo et Libertate. She received the Andrew Breitbart MVP award for August 2021 from The Rogue Review for her journalism.

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