Friday, March 5, 2010

Some Thoughts on Fasting

I don't like fasting. I'm of Italian heritage, and we like our food. This Lent I'm trying to fast on Fridays by skipping lunch. I have had some difficulty doing this. Last week I gave in and add some food (still not a whole lunch, but not what I had planned). Today I made it, with some help from the wisdom of others.

Fr. Mark, a Benedictine monk from the Tulsa, OK diocese has a wonderful blog, Vultus Christi. In his entry from February 23, he says that each Lent he chooses a saint (or actually, he asks the Lord each to choose a saint for him) to be his companion for the season. I thought that was an excellent idea. I am trying to walk with St. John of the Cross this Lent. Currently, I am reading his Sayings of Light and Love. Here are a couple of passages that are relevant for fasting:

If you make use of your reason, you are like one who eats substantial food; but if you are moved by the satisfaction of your will, you are like one who eats insipid fruit. (#46)

This way of life contains very little business and bustling, and demands mortification of the will more than knowledge. (#58)

Feed not your spirit on anything but God. Cast off concern about things, and bear peace and recollection in your heart. (#81)

I also thought about Philippians 3:19. Speaking of "enemies of the cross of Christ":

Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame.

Finally, I started taking a course in moral theology last night, and we discussed values. I thought to myself today, which do I value more, my God or my stomach?

When I am weak, I try to remember that I cannot do this (or any other thing) on my own. I need God's strength. I think of Habakkuk 1:11:

...guilty men whose own might is their god!

And so I will continue to try to learn the lessons of fasting, which Christian tradition highly values as a path towards God.


KAM said...

Good for you for fasting and looking more deeply into it. My wife and I fast every Wednesday and Friday always, as Our Blessed Virgin Mother asks us to. My wife is very strict with her fast, water and usually nothing until bread or plain pizza dough with a little grated cheese on it for at supper. I'm not so good, I have coffee during the day and butter and peanut butter on my bread. We've been doing this going on three years. Some times it's very hard, especially if one works all day. On fast days I try just to focus more conciously on Our Lord, sometimes His Passion or just asking him to guide me through the day. Keep it up, although I can't say it ever gets any easier, but the rewards are great. Peace! k

Pete Caccavari said...

Thanks, K, for the encouragement. I have been finding fasting during work tough, too. It helps if I drink orange juice. You're right that focusing on Christ in his Passion helps. I need to do that more consciously. Fasting definitely helps us to get outside ourselves. It reminds me of something we sometimes need to remind our children: "it's not all about you." Fasting helps us to take the focus off ourselves and our comfort and put the focus on Jesus. Thanks again for your words of encouragement, and I pray that your and your wife's fasting produces much spiritual fruit.

the booklady said...

Hi Pete,

I'm impressed as well! I can't say I've ever done well with fasting ... partially due to a susceptibility to migraines when my blood sugar gets too low.

But I have given up sweets altogether and I am fasting from things besides food, which I like even more.

How goes your reading of St. John of the Cross? I have tried reading him repeatedly -- without much success -- sad to say.

Thanks for those helpful quotes!

Pete Caccavari said...

Thanks, Booklady. I really like the idea of fasting from other things. I'll have to remember that for next Lent. I have not read many pages of St. John of the Cross this Lent, but what I have been doing is reading over and over again a few of the items from his early work, The Sayings of Light and Love. I'll probably be writing more on that shortly. Those are fairly accessible, and very insightful (and challenging to live).