For those of us between ages 18 and 59 today is not only a day of abstaining from meat but also a day of fasting.
The internet is filled with articles about various and sundry fasts, some based in actual science, some that are just plain dangerous. All of them proclaim the health benefits of fasting. For that reason, I thought it important to point out the fundamental difference between the fasting we do today and any of those fasts.
Our fasting today is not meant to be of any physical benefit. Our fasting today is not about solidarity with the poor. Our fasting today is one thing, an act of penance, plain and simple.
The goal of penance is not only that the sin be forgiven, but that we experience true conversion of heart. In the words of the catechism, the Christian "should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the "old man" and to put on the "new man."
As we emerge from this Lent at Easter let us pray that our penance be truly effective and we be able to say, "I feel like a new man", Christ.