The Bishop of Arlington's call to fast March 15
Today, Catholics in the Arlington Diocese received a letter from Bishop Loverde to pray and fast on March 15th for the success of the pro-life position in health care reform negotiations.
This suggested fast is an ego feeding proposition at best , as the negotiators have God-given free will. God does not change their minds because you pray at them. It is rather our responsibility to witness to them. Gandhi’s witness was a full on hunger strike. A day of prayer and fasting really does not compare to this. Fasting is an individual endeavor. I fast daily, not from a sense of penance, but because if I do not eat a low carb diet with no snacking, I do not control my food, my food controls me. Such self-mastery is the only reason for fasting.
Jesus is very clear on how we are to witness to other people, and it does not involve praying at them. We are to let people know that we are his followers by how we love each other. In other words, we do not pray publicly or say the Rosary at abortion clinics, which simply glorifies our personal piety. Instead, we treat each other with charity. Actions speak louder than words. The Bishop has a number of Catholic High Schools under his care. Do any of these offer free tuition to teenage parents? Do any of these go further and pay for the college or tech school tuition for both teen parents, including living expenses and a small stipend? Do they even go so far as to provide daycare at Catholic High Schools, as the City of Alexandria does?
I suspect that these actions are not taken because the Church does not want to put himself in the position of encouraging teens to have sex. This is crazy, because what happens instead is that Catholic teens and there parents instead get abortions to avoid both the shame of teen pregnancy and the protection of their futures.
I do not begrudge the Bishop his personal fast. I only hope that he experiences a personal epiphany about how he can best protect the unborn. The way he currently suggests is just not working, nor does it provide the appropriate witness to the cause of life.