Friday, February 8, 2008

Fasting: an Afterthought

This piece is an addendum to the previous posting. Whatever chance it has of making sense depends on your reading that posting.

What good does fasting do, my "practical" voice demands to know. It can help me to lose weight. It can strengthen the habit of discipline. Well, ok, but those ends both seem far too self-serving to survive the vision of fasting developed in the last posting.

It can free income that would have been spent on food. That money can be given to the poor. That's better. But it's not quite enough.

Christ's "burning yes" is still setting alight the force of life that consumes the old gods of darkness and death, whatever masks they wear. Wherever that force of life flares up in any human being or any community of human beings, the old gods are forced to loosen their hold on all of us. To participate in and be shaped by that "burning yes" in order to become some small part of the spark, the candle flame, the bonfire of life seems to me to be the deepest reason for fasting and the greatest contribution fasting can make.

©Abbey of St. Walburga

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