Mr. V's Answers!
Thanks for reaching out with your question about fasting during Lent. First of all, you can check out “Catholic Answers” for lots of great stuff—here’s an answer they give about fasting: https://www.catholic.com/qa/why-do-catholics-practice-fasting-and-abstinence-during-lent
Here is my basic answer about fasting... Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter (the biggest feast of the year—when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus!), and in the bible, the number 40 is important. The Israelites (the Jewish people) spent 40 years wandering through the desert after leaving slavery in Egypt—on their way to freedom in the Promised Land (Israel). Jesus spent 40 days in the desert—fasting and praying—after his baptism before beginning his public ministry of preaching and healing.
Our practice of Lent imitates the desert experience, and leads us to the freedom Jesus offers us through his death and resurrection at Easter. Fasting helps us to pray, and reminds us to give to the poor. It reminds us to pray because when we fast, we get really hungry and uncomfortable—when we choose this freely, it reminds us how dependent we are; it reminds us that we depend on God like we depend on food. It also reminds us that some people feel this hunger every day because they are very poor—this inspires us to be generous, and give to the poor.
Remember, the purpose of every spiritual practice is to 1) make us more healthy and peaceful, 2) bring us closer to God, and 3) help us to love our neighbour (all human beings)! This is exactly what fasting does!
I hope this is helpful!
God bless you,
Hi Connor—Thanks for your question!
First of all here’s a good little article about Alleluia during Lent that you might enjoy: https://catholic-link.org/why-cant-say-alleluia-lent/
The word, Alleluia, means ‘praise God’ or ‘praise Yahweh,’ and it’s always a good thing to praise God, isn’t it? Of course it is! However, there is a season for all things. Lent is a special season that is designed to help us desire the Kingdom of God in a new way by depriving us of certain things. This makes us desire them even more—so when we reach Easter (at the end of Lent) we appreciate them more!
Here’s the ‘Coles Notes’ answer: Lent is about focusing on our need for God’s Kingdom, and Easter is about God’s kingdom that has arrived! The more we are aware of our need for God’s Kingdom, the more we appreciate and celebrate it when it’s here at Easter! The word, Alleluia, is a word that celebrates God’s Kingdom that has already arrived—which is why we wait until Easter.
To answer your question about Lent being sad or somber—the answer is NO! Lent is about building the foundations of happiness: prayer, self-control, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, and a vision for kingdom of God!
Hope this helps. God bless!
Question: Why did Cain murder Abel?
The story of Cain and Abel is certainly a fascinating one! Cain and Abel are the children of Adam and Eve, and the first human beings to be born. Remember—God had directly created Adam and Eve, so these children were the first to have belly buttons!!! Wow, what a responsibility!
Seriously though, whenever I read a story in the bible, I am asking God, 'Lord, what do you want to teach me?' What I’ve learned is that even when stories are not historical, they are still very important because they teach us something about ourselves, and about human nature.
Cain and Abel both brought to God an offering of their “first fruits” from their work—this is the first moment we see “religion” or “worship” in the bible. They saw this as justice towards God. The story says God liked Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s, and as a result “Cain was very angry and his countenance fell.” (Gen 4:5b)
The interesting part for me is what God says next—and this for me is the central part of the story: “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is or you, but you must master it.” (Gen 4:6-7)
God didn’t say he would only be accepted if he brought a better offering; God says “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” It is about “doing well.” My suggestion is that “doing well” is about far more than just the first fruits he was offering—I think “doing well” was about his heart and his conscience!
But it appears that Cain thinks God accepts Abel—not him. So Cain seems to become jealous of Abel, and for this reason, kills him; at least that would be a simple way to interpret the text.
So, Lord, what do you want to teach me? Well, what sticks out for me is the request to 'do well,' and have a clear heart and conscience. Is it about doing well in the sense of measuring up? Producing more? I don't think so. I think it may have more to do with "true religion," or "true worship;" perhaps 'doing well' is about doing things for
God with a good heart and with great love--worshipping in spirit and in truth (cf. John 4:23).
Hope this helps!
God bless, and have fun reading the bible!