February 2010 letter
A few days and holy Lent begins, which we hope the Lord make a season for our spiritual growth. And fasting by the Church’s teaching is not just physical abstaining from eating for a certain period of time or replacing a food by another, but is essentially a spiritual work aiming to repentance and humility to God, and spiritual growth in the virtues.
Fasting is associated with the holy men of God in the Bible, both in the Old Testament and New Testament. A few days ago we celebrated the fast of Nineveh, and after a few too we will start lent, where our Lord Jesus Christ fasted for us. Here are other examples which illustrate how the fast was a core and continuous practice to the men of God in the Bible:
v Moses the prophet: “When I went up into the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant which the Lord made with you, then I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water” (Deu 9: 9).
v David the prophet and king: “David therefore pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground” (2Sam 12: 16).
v Ezra the scribe: “Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions” (Ez 8: 21).
v Esther the queen: “Go, gather all the Jews … and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise” (Est 4: 16).
v Daniel the prophet: “Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes” (Dan 9: 3).
v Judith: “She fasted all the days of her widowhood, except …” (Jud 8: 6).
v John the Baptist and his disciples: “Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?” (Mat 9: 14).
v Jesus disciples: “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Act 13: 2).
During lent, the timings of Holy masses will be as follows:
v Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
v Fridays from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Asking you to remember the church, its priest, servants and all its services always in your prayers, and may the blessings of St. Mary and St. Mercurius, and the blessings of this Holy Lent be with us always Amen.
Fr. Youssef Halim
Belleville, February 1, 2010