Lent Spiritual Retreat for Catechists
“Is that the sort of fast that please me” (Is 58: 5)
To keep and live the season of Lent, Forty Catechists from Jerusalem and all Palestinian territories were gathered at the Rosary Sisters’ Bethlehem monastery on Friday, 26/2/2010, overcoming all the difficulties due to heavy thunderstorms, The event was organized by the Latin Patriarchate Catechetical office in Jerusalem, which organizes an annual spiritual retreat at this time of the liturgical year.
In light of God's word in Isaiah chapter (58) and other texts, we tried to discover the “fasting acceptable to the Lord" (Isaiah 58:5).We examined our fasting under the following headings:
- Fasting as "custom and tradition:" a practice according to the customs and religious traditions that we inherited from our fathers.
- Fasting as "church canon:" This can mean a practice performed out of fear of punishment or as a guarantee of a prominent place on the right hand of the Father.
- Fasting "in order to be seen:" This means comparing my abilities to those of my brother, sister or neighbor. ..... Comparing myself to those who are not able to fast – in my own view – due to health or other reasons. Has fasting become like a "Marathon" or a game of “Risk,” dominated by the powerful or those who area able to hold out for a longer period, according to their physical capacity?
- Fasting as a field of conflict or "antagonism:" we argue or fight with our brothers and sisters Christians from other churches and sometimes from other religions to prove that our fasting is the best and the most difficult and therefore the fast that the Lord wants.
- Fasting as "diet:" Does become simply an opportunity to maintain or lose weight?
So in order that our fasting not be merely a question of habit, tradition, showing up rivals or showing off, and in order that it not be a done out of fear of punishment or even as some sort of spiritual fad, we need to rediscover the spiritual dimension of fasting in the light of the Word of God, who addresses us in the Old and New Testaments, saying to us, "Is this not the fast that I choose?” before going on to describe conversion of our hearts and lives, a turning to justice and mercy. (Isaiah 58: 6).
Our season of fasting is an annual spiritual journey that we practice in order to renew our relationship with the God, with ourselves and with others. It must bring us to ask questions concerning our way of life: "Have I ordered my priorities in accord with His word?” (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18).
“Ask the Lord day by day to learn his ways." (Isaiah 58) Let us abstain from what we consider necessary in our lives (food, drink…) in order to discover the important thing, the one that He is the source of our lives and what gives it direction and purpose. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
We ask the Lord to bless our purposes in this acceptable time and that he lead us through the path of goodness that we might experience the power and joy of His glorious Resurrection.
Sr. virginie Habib