Here is the email from Day 1 of Cana 90
We are going to spend the next 3 days preparing for our commitments that we will make this Sunday for the whole of Lent. Yes, Lent begins today, but we need to make our commitments soberly, with thoughtfulness, and in unity with our spouse. To do this effectively, we need time to pray and talk.
Today is Ash Wednesday, a day dedicated to prayer and fasting for all Catholics. We ask that you use this time to commit to this journey with your spouse for the good of yourself and your family. Over the next three days, we will send you one email a day asking that you consider your commitments of prayer, fasting, and showing mercy one at a time. Each commitment should be made with the goal of enabling you to love your spouse and children more freely and fully. This Sunday, you will receive your spreadsheet in which you will keep track of your “Victory Points”, or the times in which you kept your commitments each day. This accountability sheet will help you keep track of your progress in keeping your commitments.
Today we ask that you do three things:
- To begin this program, the first thing you need to do is listen to our podcast on Cana 90 found on iTunes or our website. This is the most thorough explanation and the easiest one to give you. If you don’t have time to listen to it, we have created highlights below so you can skip through the podcast and listen to the parts you need. This will show you how this program is unique and specially designed for couples who are living the sacrificial life of the married vocation.
- Read the exhortation below from St. Peter Chrysologus on the importance of doing prayer, fasting, and mercy together. They are all dependent on each other!
- Make sure that both you and your spouse are signed up on our email list and that you are committed to growing together this Lenten season.
Cana 90 Podcast Highlights
2:50 – Overview of the program and how it came about
5:55 – What is the goal of Lent? To remove obstacles to love, to be more free to love and this begins at home. Also, to take “inventory” of our lives and see where we have to strengthen our weak spots. And last, to do reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for all the wounds He has suffered especially during this time in the Church.
10:20 – How do I integrate Lenten practices for myself into my vocation of being a spouse and parent? St. Peter Chrysologus taught that prayer, fasting, and mercy are intertwined. These 3 are needed for Lent. We need to acknowledge that being a parent gives plentiful opportunities for sacrifices, we just need to offer them to God with love.
19:30 – Any commitments of prayer, fasting, or mercy that you make need to be done in light of your role as a spouse and parent. Spouses have a mutual authority over each other. You need to discern this program and these commitments together. Your spouse, in a way, is your “religious superior”.
24:20 – Commitments of Prayer. Choose 1-3 additional prayer commitments to make. We need to model prayer for our children and seek His face and grow in relationship with Him. Prayer informs all the sacrifices and acts of mercy that we take.
34:40 – Commitment of Fasting. Fasting is subordinating your flesh, which is basically making yourself do stuff you don’t want to do. We can fast to train our body, but we can also fast to train our mind. We can choose to turn away from things that are not necessarily bad, but can be denied to strengthen my will. Its important to replace what you are fasting from with something else that is better for you or that serves your family more.
47:00 – Commitments of Mercy. Mercy is giving yourself away to others. Perform the corporal works of mercy in your home. Your family is the first ones who you are required to show mercy.
52:10 – Accountability. Its important that you have a daily check-in with your spouse. We will send you a sheet on which you can tally your “Victory Points” throughout the week.
“Prayer knocks, fasting obtains, mercy receives.”
Sermon by St. Peter Chrysologus
There are three things, my brethren, by which faith stands firm, devotion remains constant, and virtue endures. They are prayer, fasting and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives. Prayer, mercy and fasting: these three are one, and they give life to each other.
Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. Let no one try to separate them; they cannot be separated. If you have only one of them or not all together, you have nothing. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others you open God’s ear to yourself.
When you fast, see the fasting of others. If you want God to know that you are hungry, know that another is hungry. If you hope for mercy, show mercy. If you look for kindness, show kindness. If you want to receive, give. If you ask for yourself what you deny to others, your asking is a mockery.
Let this be the pattern for all men when they practice mercy: show mercy to others in the same way, with the same generosity, with the same promptness, as you want others to show mercy to you. Therefore, let prayer, mercy and fasting be one single plea to God on our behalf, one speech in our defence, a threefold united prayer in our favour.
Let us use fasting to make up for what we have lost by despising others. Let us offer our souls in sacrifice by means of fasting. There is nothing more pleasing that we can offer to God, as the psalmist said in prophecy: A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit; God does not despise a bruised and humbled heart.
Offer your soul to God, make him an oblation of your fasting, so that your soul may be a pure offering, a holy sacrifice, a living victim, remaining your own and at the same time made over to God. Whoever fails to give this to God will not be excused, for if you are to give him yourself you are never without the means of giving.
To make these acceptable, mercy must be added. Fasting bears no fruit unless it is watered by mercy. Fasting dries up when mercy dries up. Mercy is to fasting as rain is to earth. However much you may cultivate your heart, clear the soil of your nature, root out vices, sow virtues, if you do not release the springs of mercy, your fasting will bear no fruit.
When you fast, if your mercy is thin your harvest will be thin; when you fast, what you pour out in mercy overflows into your barn. Therefore, do not lose by saving, but gather in by scattering. Give to the poor, and you give to yourself. You will not be allowed to keep what you have refused to give to others.”