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Fasting & Abstinence

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.

  • For members of the Roman Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may also be taken, but not to equal a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Roman Catholic Church from age 14 onwards. 
  • If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the "paschal fast" to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily his Resurrection.

But how did fasting become such an important means of preparing for the Eucharist and of learning virtue through self-discipline?  Christian fasting is revealed in an interdependence between two events in the Bible: the "breaking of the fast" by Adam and Eve; and the "keeping of the fast" by Christ at the beginning of his ministry.

Humanity's "Fall" away from God and into sin began with eating.  God had proclaimed a fast from the fruit of only one tree, the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17), and Adam and Eve broke it.  Fasting is here connected with the very mystery of life and death, of salvation and damnation.  Food perpetuates life in this physical world, which is subject to decay and death.  But God "created no death." (Wis. 1:13)  Humanity, in Adam and Eve, rejected a life dependent on God alone for one that was dependent rather on "bread alone." (Dt. 8:3; Mt. 4:4; Lk. 4:4)  The whole world was given to man as a kind of food, as a means to life, but "life" is meant as communion with God, not as food. ("Their god is their belly." Phil. 3:19)  The tragedy is not so much that Adam ate food, but that he ate the food for its own sake, "apart" from God and to be independent of Him.  Believing that food had life in itself and thus he could be "like God."  And he put his faith in food.  This kind of existence seems to be built on the principle that man does indeed live "by bread alone."

Christ, however, is the new Adam.  At the beginning of his ministry in the Gospel of Matthew, we read, "When He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights, He became hungry."  Hunger is that state in which we realize our dependence on something else—when we face the ultimate question: "on what does my life depend?"  Satan tempted both Adam and Christ, saying: Eat, for your hunger is proof that you depend entirely on food, that your life is in food.  Adam believed and ate.  Christ said, "Man does NOT live by bread alone." (Mt. 4:4; Lk. 4:4)  This liberates us from total dependence on food, on matter, on the world.  Thus, for the Christian, fasting is the only means by which man recovers his true spiritual nature.  In order for fasting to be effective, then, the spirit must be a part of it.  Christian fasting is not concerned with losing weight.  It is a matter of prayer and the spirit.   And because of that, because it is truly a place of the spirit, true fasting may well lead to temptation, and weakness and doubt and irritation.  In other words, it will be a real fight between good and evil, and very likely we shall fail many times in these battles.  But the very discovery of the Christian life as "fight" and "effort" is an essential aspect of fasting.

Christian tradition can name at least seven reasons for fasting:

  • From the beginning, God commanded some fasting, and sin entered into the world because Adam and Eve broke the fast.
  • For the Christian, fasting is ultimately about fasting from sin.
  • Fasting reveals our dependence on God and not the resources of this world.
  • Fasting is an ancient way of preparing for the Eucharist—the truest of foods.
  • Fasting is preparation for baptism (and all the sacraments)—for the reception of grace.
  • Fasting is a means of saving resources to give to the poor.
  • Fasting is a means of self-discipline, chastity, and the restraining of the appetites.

(A reflection on Lenten fasting by Rev. Daniel Merz, Associate Director, USCCB Secretariat of Divine Worship)

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HOLY THURSDAY, APRIL 2

8PM Mass of the Lord’s Supper
    Saint Thomas of Villanova Church

Solemn Adoration until 11PM
    Corr Hall Chapel

GOOD FRIDAY, APRIL 3

3PM Celebration of the Lord’s Passion
    St. Thomas of Villanova Church

HOLY SATURDAY, APRIL 4

8PM Easter Vigil
    St. Thomas of Villanova Church

EASTER SUNDAY, APRIL 5

7:30AM Mass
    St. Thomas of Villanova Church

9AM Mass
    Rosemont Chapel (American Sign Language Interpreter at Mass)

9:45AM Mass
    St. Thomas of Villanova Church

11AM Mass
    Rosemont Chapel

11:30AM Mass
    St. Thomas of Villanova Church

No Evening Masses on Easter Sunday

Sunday Mass
St. Thomas of Villanova Church
7:30AM, 10:30AM, 5:30PM, 7PM, 9PM

Saturday Night Vigil Mass
Corr Chapel 
5:30PM 

Daily Mass
Corr Chapel 
12:05 & 5:30PM
Monday through Friday

Spanish Mass
Corr Chapel
1PM—Sundays

Sacrament of Reconciliation
St. Thomas of Villanova Church  
3:30–4:30PM—Tuesdays & Wednesdays

Rosary (student led) 
Corr  Chapel 
5PM—Monday, Wednesday, Friday

Evening Prayer
Corr Chapel
5PM—Tuesday & Thursday

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
Monastery Chapel 
11:30AM–1:30PM
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 

 

For Weekends:

No Saturday 5:30 pm Mass: February 28, March 7, April 4
No Sunday 5:30 pm Mass: March 1, March 8, April 5
No Sunday 7:00 pm Mass: April 5
No Sunday 9:00 pm Mass: March 1, April 5
(The weekend Mass schedule to the summer schedule – 7:00 pm Sunday only – the weekend of May 10).

For Daily Mass:

No 12:05 pm Mass: April 2, April 3, April 6, May 15
No 5:30 pm Mass: March 2 – March 6, April 1 – April 3, April 6

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Stations of the Cross

 

Stations of the Cross (or the Way of the Cross) refers to a series of artistic representations, very often sculptural, depicting Christ carrying the cross to his crucifixion in his final hours, and to devotions commemorating the Passion, often moving physically around a set of stations. The vast majority of Roman Catholic churches contain such a series, typically placed at intervals along the side walls of the church. The devotions may be done at any time, but are most commonly done during the Season of Lent.

The Stations of the Cross originated in pilgrimages to Jerusalem. A desire to reproduce the holy places of Jerusalem in other lands seems to have manifested itself at quite an early date. During the 15th and 16th centuries the Franciscans began to build a series of outdoor shrines in Europe to duplicate their counterparts in the Holy Land.

The object of the Stations is to help the faithful to make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer through meditating upon the chief scenes of Christ's suffering and death. It has become one of the most popular devotions for Roman Catholics, and is often performed in a spirit of reparation for sin. 

During Lent 2015, Stations of the Cross will be held in the church on Wednesdays at 7:30PM (there will be no Stations of the Cross on Ash Wednesday):

February 25
Led by the Campus Ministry Interns

Campus Ministry interns will offer contemporary reflections at each station. Reflections will be written by staff of various offices and departments throughout the University. 

March 4
Led by the Parish Community of St. Thomas of Villanova

St. Thomas of Villanova Parish representatives and members of the Parish Council will lead Everyone’s Way of the Cross this evening. The stations will include intentions for various forms of healing.

March 11
Led by the Liturgical Council

Members of the Liturgical Council will offer reflections that focuses on Jesus’ actions in his Passion and relating them to our everyday life. The reflections help us ponder the question “how do we meet the challenge of the cross in our life?”

March 18
Led by the Augustinian Pre-Novices

This devotion is not limited to the walls of the Church. Tonight, we walk the Way of the Cross around campus. Using the Stations of the Cross as celebrated by St. John Paul II in 1991, we reflect on the needs of the world, the needs of our campus community, and our own personal needs.

March 25
Led by Villanova University Pastoral Musicians

Reflections on Christ’s Passion in word & song with excerpts taken from Mozart’s Requiem.

April 1
Led by the Parish Community of St. Thomas of Villanova

As we move closer to the Easter and the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation, Stations of the Cross will be led by the Parish RCIA team and those being initiated into the Catholic Church during the Easter Season.

 

Ash Wednesday
February 18, 2015, 8:30AM Morning Prayer, 12:05PM Mass, 3PM Ecumenical Service, 5:30PM Mass, and 7PM Mass.  All liturgies will be held at St. Thomas of Villanova Church and will include distribution of ashes. Mass will also be celebrated in Rm 102 in the Law School at 12:05PM.

Daily Mass
in Corr Chapel, 12:05PM & 5:30PM Monday— Friday & Wednesday at 12:10PM in the Law School Chapel.

Sunday Masses
are at 7:30AM, 10:30AM, 5:30PM, 7PM and 9PM in the church.

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
Monday, Wednesday, Friday in the Monastery Chapel from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM. 

Rosary
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 5 PM in Corr Chapel.

Evening Prayer
Tuesday and Thursday at 5 PM in Corr Chapel.

Meditation & Centering Prayer
Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12:30PM – 1PM and Wednesdays at 8:30 – 9AM in St. Rita’s Community Room.

Breaking Open the Word
Wednesday at 3–3:45PM in St. Rita’s Community Room.  Join us in reflecting and praying with the upcoming weekend’s Scriptures.

Sacrament of Reconciliation
Every Tuesday & Wednesday at 3:30 to 4:30PM and every Wednesday evening during Lent from 6:30 to 7:30 PM in the Church or by appointment in Campus Ministry beginning February 24.

Stations of the Cross
Every Wednesday during Lent at 7:30PM in the Church beginning February 25–April 1.  Stations will be held by different groups each week.

Prayers for Peace
every Monday from 4:30 – 5PM in the St. Rita’s Lower Level Lounge.

Lent 2015—Daily Reflections by Our Villanova Community—printed copies available in Corr Chapel, Campus Ministry, St. Thomas at Villanova Church or online at http://www1.villanova.edu/villanova/mission/office/publications/reflections/lent.html

                                                           

                                                            (* see Campus Ministry website for liturgy over break)