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Philip McEvoy prays Feb. 13 in the chapel of St. Matthew the Evangelist Parish in Bellevue. PHOTO BY MIKE MAY/STAFF

Active measures mark Lenten season for Bellevue Catholic

For five years, rigorous fasting has been a significant part of Philip McEvoy’s Lenten practices.
 
“I was at Eucharistic adoration one Friday evening and was thinking, ‘what can I do to step up my Lenten sacrifice?’ and it came to me – the Holy Spirit said, ‘why not do this?’”
 
Following the example of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, McEvoy fasts. But instead of 40 days, he fasts 40 hours at a stretch, beginning Ash Wednesday and then every Wednesday during Lent for a total of 280 hours.
 
“I try to do more than the letter of the law and get into the spirit of the law,” said McEvoy, a member of St. Matthew the Evangelist Parish in Bellevue.
 
Like many Catholics, McEvoy goes beyond small sacrifices during Lent, seeing it as an opportunity to experience the true spirit of the season through fruitful acts of penance, prayer and almsgiving.
 
 “Lent enhances the practice of my Catholic faith,” he said. “By fasting, I can take it up a notch. And, it reinforces my prayer time in Eucharistic adoration.”
 
McEvoy said fasting helps him take the focus off himself, place it on Jesus’ sufferings and increase his awareness of the needy around the world who go hungry.
 
He begins his fast on Wednesday evening – eating nothing at all – and only drinking coffee or water until about noon on Friday.
 
In addition to his weekly 40-hour fast, he follows the church’s Ash Wednesday and Good Friday fast of two small meals and one larger meal and abstains from between-meal snacks every day through Lent, except Sundays. 
 
McEvoy’s wife supports his fasts by eating simpler meals herself. And despite his hunger, McEvoy said he feels physically stronger and more spiritually focused and aware.
 
Active engagement marks the Lenten season for McEvoy in other ways. In addition to his attendance at daily Mass throughout the year, he prays more frequently before the Blessed Sacrament during Lent.
 
He said these acts help him increase his spiritual awareness and reflect on how he treats others. “Have I hurt someone with my words, do I need to make amends with someone, am I being judgmental of others?”
 
McEvoy also fasts from social media and television. “I find I don’t need these outside influences,” he said. “There’s less noise and distraction. I have more quiet time to pray and meditate.”
 
And if he does watch TV, instead of news programs, he tunes in EWTN. “It gives me something that can lift me up,” McEvoy said.
 
Although a 40-hour fast seemed a “big deal” at first, it eventually seemed as if it was not enough, he said. “I know I could never do enough, but I have to try. Fasting helps me reflect on what Jesus went through,” he said.
 
 “I realize, it’s not Calvary, but it’s my way of giving back to the Lord for his 40 days in the desert, and in reparation for my sins that nailed him to the cross.”

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