Fasting and Numbers

Saint Jerome once said:

When the stomach is full, it is easy to talk of fasting.

It was a busy day at the parish, bigger than any other Sunday of the year, even Parent’s Weekend. But I did take time to eat my full meal (lunch) at home with my wife: a cheese omelet with a few rye crackers.

With my diet and new food consumption philosophy (six small meals a day) I had to judge the Ash Wednesday fast for the first time. I settled on four meals instead of three or six, and those other three not quite equal to an omelet and crackers. I had a few crackers for breakfast, an apple around dinner time, and a warmed up baked potato when I got home last night at 11.

What made it a very satisfactory day was the huge turnout for liturgy. Our seating capacity is a bit more than 800. We hauled in about a hundred chairs for 5:15 Mass and people were still standing. I credited that to the mens basketball game on campus at 8. Funny enough, we had only seventy shy of the 5:15 attendance at 7pm. So much for the basketball theory. The truth is we’ve never had to use chairs from the basement for Ash Wednesday, at least since I started serving this parish.

Is there a corollary to Saint Jerome?

When the church is empty it is easy to talk of evangelization.

I remarked to a few friends after one of the Masses last night, “We have Ash Wednesday figured out. We have the palms for five, six weeks from now. All we have to do now is to figure out three-hundred sixty-three other giveaways and we’ll pack ‘em in every day.”

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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One Response to Fasting and Numbers

  1. John Donaghy says:

    It’s amazing how Ash Wednesday brings in so many people. It’s not just the free ashes. It’s something about Catholic sacramentality.

    Of course, another thing to keep in mind is that many students go home for weekends and so there are more students on campus who might get to the Ash Wednesday Masses. It doesn’t explain everything but I am glad that so many are showing up.

    I remember many Ash Wednesday Masses and remember how I was moved – almost to tears – to see so many young people taking their faith seriously.

    Keep up the good work.

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