Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Resolution

For some time now I have been considering the manner in which Franciscans practice personal and communal penance through the means of fasting, that is, limiting our consumption of food and drink, and abstinence, that is, refraining from eating meat and all animal products, including dairy products.
Over the years I have practiced both fasting and abstinence, both in the name of Christ and for ethical and health reasons. But now I want to consecrate these practices more firmly and totally, as I am consecrating all of my being and doing for the sake of God and the kin(g)dom of heaven.
I have considered the documents that govern the Capuchin way of life.
All the friars are to fast from the feast of All Saints until Christmas. Those who voluntarily fast for forty days after Epiphany have God's blessing, because this is the period our Lord sanctified by his holy fast (cf. Mt. 4:2). However, those who do not wish to do so, should not be forced to it. All the friars are bound to keep the Lenten fast before Easter, but they are not bound to fast at other times, except on Fridays. However, in case of manifest necessity, they are not obliged to corporal fasting.
From the Capuchin Constitutions:
103. Christ the Lord, the exemplar of all, after accepting a mission from His Father and being led by the Holy Spirit, fasted in the desert for forty days and forty nights. His disciple, Saint Francis, burning with the desire of imitating the Lord, also spent his life in fasting and prayer. The time of Advent and, above all, the Lent before Easter, as well as every Friday, should be considered by us as times of more intense private and communal penance.

Moreover, [the observance of] the Lent, commonly called the 'Lent of Benediction', and of the vigils of the Solemnities of Saint Francis and of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is also recommended.

On these days let us dedicate ourselves more readily to those works that favor conversion: prayer, recollection, listening to the word of God, bodily mortification and communal fasting. In a brotherly spirit, let us share by our greater frugality with other poor people whatever comes to us from the table of the Lord, and let us practice works of mercy more fervently according to our traditional custom.

As regards the law of abstinence and fasting, let the brothers observe the prescriptions of both the universal and the particular Church.

It is the responsibility of the provincial chapter, however, to determine more precisely both days of fasting and abstinence as well as the manner of fasting according to various circumstances of place and time.


What the Rule and Constitutions prescribe about fasting as a form of penance, I mean to do, starting now. I will begin a fast at the conclusion of the solemnity of All Saints and continue it until Christmas. Furthermore, this fast will entail a complete abstinence from all meat and animal products.

I hope not to say much more about this, because I don't want to draw too much attention to myself. But I did want to make an announcement so as to enable you to hold me accountable to this resolution. Thank you as always for your support, especially for your continued prayers.

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