The U.S. Bishops have an idea: With the Supreme Court about to hear an important case on the rights of homosexuals to marry, the bishops invite you to fast today. Dedicate your penance, they urge, for the intention of marriage:
For the justices of the Supreme Court, that when they consider two marriage-related cases later this month, they would uphold the authentic meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, a good in itself and for all of society.
This is a good idea. Just publishing their flyer today, on the day of fast, is NOT such a good idea—I’d have told you (and told myself!) yesterday, had I seen anything in the news about it. (Of course, it may have been pushed aside due to the dramatic news yesterday, namely, the resignation of our Holy Father.)
Nonetheless, late is better than not at all; so if you’ve already had breakfast and lunch and some snacks (as I have), consider sacrificing in whatever way you can today: have dinner an hour late; skip the dessert; don’t eat between meals. Let us join together to offer our minor mortifications in defense of the sacred institution of marriage.
There are only two days on which both fast and abstinence are required in the modern Church in the U.S.: Ash Wednesday, and Good Friday. So today, we abstain (we don’t eat meat); but the bishops recommend an additional penitential act, fasting (refraining from eating between meals) as well for a special cause.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops offers this explanation:
Beginning this month, the Supreme Court will consider two marriage-related cases: United States v. Windsor, about the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and Hollingsworth v. Perry, about California’s Proposition 8. Depending on how the Court rules, there could be ramifications for marriage laws throughout the country. Oral arguments for the cases begin March 26, the same day as a March for Marriage to show support for upholding the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. A ruling on both cases is expected from the court by June.
Catholic Social Teaching is clear that marriage and the family are essential to the common good: “The family, the natural community in which human social nature is experienced, makes a unique and irreplaceable contribution to the good of society” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 213). The family, “born of the intimate communion of life and love founded on the marriage between one man and one woman,” is indeed “the first and vital cell of society” (no. 211).
The importance of marriage and the family to the common good is why the Church works tirelessly to enact laws that recognize and support marriage’s authentic meaning as the union of one man and one woman. According to the Compendium, society and state institutions are called “to guarantee and foster the genuine identity of family life and to avoid and fight all that alters or wounds it” (no. 252).
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Visit www.usccb.org/fast to sign the fasting pledge and to sign up for weekly email reminders and intentions, or text “FAST” TO 99000 to receive weekly text messages.