Fasting during Lent

Praying hands


As Catholics, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence. Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence. Obligatory, fasting and abstinence are not words that are often well-received in today's age! However, we also know that so many things in this day and age leave us feeling empty and unfulfilled. So if this is a practice you aren't familiar with, why not give it a shot? The following is information to help you explore why we fast and the benefits of fasting. Giving something up for lent is also briefly discussed.


What is Fasting?


To fast is to do without food...When we get hungry, we have a heightened sense of awareness.  If, when we eat too much, we have a sluggish feeling, when we fast, we have a feeling of alertness.  Fasting is a wonderful exercise whenever we want to sincerely ask for an important grace from God.  It is not that our fasting "earns" God's attention, but by fasting, we clarify our thinking and our feeling.  It is purifying and prepares us to pray more deeply. -From What is it to do fasting and abstinence? And, when do I do it?


Fasting is a spiritual exercise, and is primarily an action of the inner life. We do not fast to impress other people. We fast to cultivate the inner life. Fasting should be an occasion of joy, not a cause of sadness. Authentic fasting draws us nearer to God and opens our hearts to receive his many gifts. -From Dynamic Catholic


Lenten Regulations from Ash Wednesday to Easter

Abstinence from meat is to be observed by all Catholics 14 years old and older on Ash Wednesday and on all the Fridays of Lent. Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday by all Catholics who are 18 years of age but not yet 59.  Those who are bound by this may take only one full meal.  Two smaller meals are permitted if necessary to maintain strength according to one’s needs, but eating solid foods between meals is not permitted.


Giving Something up for Lent


Lent is often a time when many give something up as a form of fasting. This Creighton University resource suggests that, instead of giving up something as we might have done as children, we instead  begin by asking ourselves, "What would help me grow in freedom?" Perhaps it's giving up judging others or another bad habit. Maybe it is committing to regular prayer, or additional prayer for those who already have a regular prayer practice. Still for others, perhaps it is to abstain from Starbucks or weekly dinners out and then giving that money to the poor.





Our Catholic Social Teaching asks us to care for God's creation and reduce our energy use including our carbon output from burning fossil fuels. Each week provides resources and information to help you, your family, your neighbor and friends, reduce your carbon footprint. Help spread the word!





Our Catholic Social Teaching asks us to care for God’s creation and reduce our energy use including our carbon output from burning fossil fuels. We invite each of you and all families to fill out this Carbon Calculator to help you assess how much carbon you are putting into the atmosphere. It takes about 5 minutes to do (simply do your best guesstimates) and another 5 minutes or so to review the results.  It’s a great family project to engage in: 
This carbon calculator figures out approximately how many “earths” it would take to deal with the amount of carbon you and your family are creating.  It’s humbling, but important.  We then get motivated to make some bigger changes beyond Zero Waste.  Even our HOME team member average was high at 2.6 earths!  Our goal is to reduce our carbon usage for only ONE earth!  You will get a simple tip each week to help you honor Catholic Social Teaching around Creation Care. Thank you.


One Earth Film Festival

This week to reduce your carbon footprint …Register to watch an environmental movie online from March 4 - 15! 

It’s the 10th season of One Earth Film Festival. Learn more about this festival and see a list of the many films at:

You'll find hope-filled films on an array of eco-topics. Gina’s pick: Kiss the Ground. It will inspire you about soil, food and significant, easy carbon-capturing solutions, shown on Sat. March 13 at 11 am. There are films for kids and some created by them, too - a wonderful family activity which opens up the discussion about your family’s Creation Care. 

This week to reduce your carbon footprint …Look at the Community Solar options available to you now, to save money, support renewable energy and reduce fossil fuels and carbon in our atmosphere. 
Community Solar is a way that families, businesses and places of worship can engage in renewable energy easily and inexpensively. Community solar means that solar panels are placed in an array on the ground, saving much money compared to roof installation. 
The primary purpose of Community Solar is to reduce use of fossil fuels. Another purpose is to provide rate payers the opportunity to be a part of the solution and to benefit from reduced cost. Under the 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act, Community Solar is “assisted” by the State. However, success of Community Solar is contingent on full subscription. 
Community Solar is a developer-owned solar project (a large array of solar panels) in which subscribers (a community) agree to pay the developer, at a 20% discount, for a fixed portion of the electricity produced. The portion assigned is based on the subscriber’s annual electricity needs.  In return, the subscriber receives a credit (for the electricity produced by the solar panels) on the monthly bill from the utility ComEd. This is called virtual net metering. The subscriber pays ComEd for the difference between the amount of electricity used and the credit (the net) at the default rate.  The subscriber pays the developer at a discount rate for all of the electricity that “their” portion of the array produced. If their portion produced more electricity (in a given month) than they used, ComEd carries over the excess credit to the following month. There are no signup or exit fees. 
Here is information for the developer Nexamp.
The Village of Oak Park also has a community solar program.  Visit  to join the waitlist.
Fourth Week of Lent beginning March 14 - Plan your Climate Victory Veggie Garden
This week to reduce your carbon footprint: Plan your Climate Victory Veggie Garden.
The Archdiocesan Creation Care Team is encouraging all parishioners and parishes to grow Laudato Si’ Climate Victory Gardens (veggies), native plant gardens and flowers. Our parish remains a leader in the Archdiocese with our Creation Care gardens: flowers, native plants, a STEM student veggie bed and hydroponic indoor veggie garden and our Community Vegetable Garden which serves the St. Martin De Porres community. Now it’s your turn!

You’ll be so inspired and motivated by watching this 2-minute video on Climate Victory Gardens.  
This week to reduce your carbon footprint …Plan your Native Plants Garden.
Options are: Wild Ones for their native plant sale (coming soon); Empowering Gardens in Forest Park (an Ascension alum owns this gardening shop which hires the disabled) or getting seeds or plants from neighbors. Let’s focus on milkweed plants – Common, Butterfly, Rose/Swamp. Milkweed is easy to grow and then you help increase the Monarch butterfly population,  a focus of our local IGN/Interfaith Green Network of which we are a member.
We will have a MILKWEED SEED SHARE on Sunday, April 11 after all Masses in the church vestibule. If you have viable milkweed seeds to share, please put several in each envelope, label it and bring them that day to share.
And you have a chance for a native garden training here:
Native Plant Gardening Q&A Presenters: Monica Buckley of Red Stem Native Landscapes in Chicago and Sarah Michehl with The Land Conservancy of McHenry County
Sunday, April 18, 2:30-4:30 PM
Online Presentation
Two pros will be ready to answer all questions—whether simple or complex. 
Sixth Week of Lent/Holy Week and Your Follow up After Easter
beginning Palm Sunday, March 28
  • If you haven’t planned your Climate Victory Veggie Garden, please do so now.  If you don’t have land, start with some containers and/or see if you can help a neighbor with their garden. A great book to help is “How To Grow More Vegetables than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine” by John Jeavons
  • Plan to add some milkweed to your garden to increase the Monarch butterfly population.  Look for our milkweed seed share after Masses on weekend(s) after Easter (as supply allows.  If you have viable milkweed seeds to share, put some seeds in small envelopes and add them to our sharing.  Thanks).
  • Have you considered joining one of the Community Solar programs?