We're out of Lent, neck deep in Easter Triduum now. Does this matter to you? I don't know, but it does to me as a practicing Roman Catholic. Today being Good Friday, the second fast day I know of in the Church calendar, the first being Ash Wednesday, the topic of fasting is on my mind, if you couldn't tell from the title of this post. Here we go then, my thoughts on one of the central aspects of Lent.
There are three practices, I as a Catholic, are expected to uphold during Lent: prayer (my relation with God), almsgiving (my relation with my fellow humans) and fasting (my relation with myself). I must say that I'm a great fan of fasting, denying yourself of certain things, in this case copious amounts of food, in order to center your attention on what is truly important and appreciate what you do have. It occurred to me this Lent though that Catholic fasting is pretty weak. We do it twice a year, abstain from meat (not counting fish amongst this group) and limit ourselves to small meals and no snacks. On Fridays, it's simple abstinence from meat. That's really not a big deal. If the cafeteria isn't serving anything good, I can easily match those criteria. That and the whole Friday only thing. This is likely me taking things too literally, but what's stopping me from staying up till early Saturday morning and gorging then? Nothing, except an understanding of what fasting is about. Besides, midnight is such an arbitrary disctinction.
Lately then, I've been thinking that Muslims do fasting right with Ramadan though it's a bit extreme. No food or drink at all while the sun is up. When it's down, you can eat. It's a meaningful denial and the limits on what it starts and ends aren't so arbitrary. I think I'm going to switch over to this method next Lent for the holy days and Fridays, but I'll drink water. Not doing so crosses the line from self-denial to straight-up unhealthy for me. I'm fairly certain that Jews follow this same style of fasting at some point, but I'm not willing to check.
I guess this disclaimer comes a little late, but it's very possible I'm wrong on how one is meant to properly fast. All of this is to the best of my knowledge, which is not as great as I would hope. So, yeah, mistakes and misinterpretations are very feasible.
3 years ago