Re: Church Teaching on Fasting


Dear Volunteer,

It’s the Lenten Season and so begins, for all Catholics, a time of prayer, penance and sacrifice, in imitation of Our Lord Who sacrificed so much for us. This Catholic teaching of prayer, penance and sacrifice is reiterated over and over again in the Old and New Testaments.

Our Lady of Fatima appeared in 1917 to remind us of just how important and necessary this is for the salvation of all souls. She said “Pray, pray very much and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell because there are none to sacrifice themselves and pray for them.” (August 19, 1917).

So what is the Church teaching on sacrifices and penance with regard to this all-important time in the Liturgical Year? Currently, it is very simple — one must fast and abstain from meat on only two days of the year, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. (Deliberately failing to adhere to this results in Mortal Sin which completely separates us from God until we are reconciled by a good confession.)

Abstaining from meat is for all Catholics who have reached the age of reason, usually seven years of age; fasting is for persons between the ages of 21 and 59, unless health prevents this. Also on all Fridays during Lent (and indeed the whole year), one must do some form of penance if one does not abstain from meat.

Fasting means having only one full meal and two smaller snacks which together should be less than a full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted; but liquids, including milk and fruit juices, may be taken any time on a fast day.

Our obligation is to adhere to what the current Church laws are. However, when we consider that by 1917 the status of the world in the eyes of God had so deteriorated, and the eternal loss of souls had reached such great proportions, that the Holy Mother of God came to warn and remind us of the importance of prayer, penance and sacrifice, then perhaps we should reconsider our obligation.

What were the Church laws regarding fasting and abstinence during Lent in 1917 when Our Lady came to Fatima? Abstinence from meat was every Friday of the year and also Ash Wednesday. In addition to total abstinence from meat on the aforementioned days, there was also partial abstaining from meat (meat only once a day, at the main or full meal) on all the days of Lent except days of complete abstinence. On Sundays, no abstinence or fasting is required. During Lent every day except Sunday was a day of Fast.

Quite a difference in the requirements then and now. How much better it is for us now; or is it? If we weren’t doing enough penance back in 1917 for the salvation of our souls and those of others; if there were already many souls going to hell back then because people were already not praying and offering sufficient sacrifices to help obtain their conversion before it was too late, THEN HOW MANY SOULS ARE BEING LOST NOW? AND WHAT ARE THE CHANCES FOR US AND OUR FAMILIES?

Contrary to what many of us have been told in the past regarding the reason for these laws, the laws of fasting and abstinence were instituted by Holy Mother the Church precisely to help us do penance. Recognizing how weak her children are, the Church instituted these laws to help us achieve the goal for which God created us – Heaven.

Just as our earthly mother tells us to put on a coat to protect us before going out into the cold, so was Holy Mother the Church telling us to put on the armor of penance before the day of reckoning comes, when we stand before Our Lord and have to render an account for what we have and have not done.

Our Lady of Fatima said pray, do penance and make sacrifices. She was telling us then that we weren’t doing enough, so how can we possibly be doing enough now, if we are only adhering to current Church laws?

Enclosed with this letter is the latest issue of The Fatima Crusader. The first article, by Coralie Graham, mentions how the rescue workers at Ground Zero, upon hearing of the protection and miracles of the Brown Scapular, requested to be enrolled and wear this most precious treasure from Heaven; willingly placing themselves under the protection of the Mother of God.

This didn’t just happen, it never does. It is neither coincidence nor luck, as some would call it, but rather a deliberate act of Divine Providence. None of us can say “yes” without God’s grace which comes to us through the intercession of our Heavenly Mother. As the dispenser of all graces, She can give them to whom She pleases without any particular reason. But being the wonderful Heavenly Mother that She is, She wants to help Her children and so assigns graces through our prayers and sacrifices.

She deigns to use us in order to help us. We gain more graces both for ourselves and others when we pray and make sacrifices. So all the police officers and construction workers at Ground Zero, who availed themselves of the Brown Scapular on that particular day, were given the grace to do so because of the sacrifices of people like you, be it prayer, fasting or some other sacrifice.

It would be nice to be able to say that the cover of this issue of The Fatima Crusader says it all. It does in that Our Lady came to Fatima, asked the faithful to pray (particularly the Rosary, do the Five First Saturdays Devotion), do penance, and make sacrifices, for the salvation of souls. She asked the Holy Father, together with all the bishops of the world, to consecrate Russia to Her Immaculate Heart.

She said if Her requests were not heeded, the good would be martyred, the Holy Father would have much to suffer and various nations would be annihilated. The cover of this issue is reminding us of all of this, but it does not say it all. Rather, it is saying if the Consecration of Russia is not done soon, then this is just the beginning, just a foretaste of the horrors to come.

Our Lady (after showing the three children of Fatima the vision of hell) said in 1917, “You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace”.

The picture on the cover is a reminder of Her Message to all, and a call to you, Our Lady’s volunteer, to do even more. Why? Because Our Heavenly Mother gave you two special gifts – first by allowing you to learn of Her Fatima Message, and the means that She was sent by God to give to the world to save your soul and those of others; second, by giving you another special grace — the grace to volunteer to be Her instrument in this work of the salvation of souls.

That means that, indeed, all of Her volunteers must, as best as we are able, do all She has asked of us at Fatima, and even more. Please consider offering more prayers and sacrifices during this Lent for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the conversion of sinners, to make reparation for sin, for Our Lady’s Fatima Apostolate, Father Gruner and all the Apostolate workers, and fellow volunteers – asking God to use our sacrifices and Bless the efforts of all our works.

And as always, please help make known Our Lady’s Fatima Message by distributing this issue of The Fatima Crusader. For more copies, call us at 1-800-845-3047 or return the enclosed reply form.

In the Immaculate Heart of Mary,

Joanna Swords

P.S.Also enclosed is a copy of one of the articles in this issue of the Crusader, “Don’t Shoot the Messenger”. We have received many phone calls regarding Father Gruner’s alleged and totally untrue suspension. Some have asked for something in writing, to be able to better explain to others and to help defend Father Gruner. You can obtain more copies of this article by calling 1-800-845-3047 or filling out the enclosed reply form.

P.P.S.During the month of January you and Our Lady’s other volunteers distributed 35,302 pieces of literature, and 20,069 sacramentals. You made 1,657 Rosaries and 11,956 Green Scapulars for Our Lady’s Apostolate.

P.P.P.S.For more information on laws of the Church in 1917 regarding Fasting and Abstinence throughout the Liturgical year, check the box on the reply form.