Skip to comments.Intro to Fast and Abstinence 101
Posted on 02/25/2009 12:56:41 PM PST by NYer
There are particular days of fast and abstinence in Lent when the whole Church participates in this Lenten practice as a community of believers. But individual Christians are invited to fast in ways that each determines from his/her own experience and circumstances. The following reflections might be helpful to all of us as we consider fasting in the season ahead of us.
Here's what the Lord says of fasting through the prophet Isaiah, Chapter 58:
Is this the manner of fasting I wish,
of keeping a day of penance:
That a man bow his head like a reed,
and lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own...
If you remove from your midst oppression,
false accusation and malicious speech;
If you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted...
Then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday;
Then the LORD will guide you always
and give you plenty even on the parched land.
He will renew your strength,
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring whose water never fails.
Such exercises as fasting cannot have their proper effect unless our motives for practicing them spring from personal meditation. We have to think of what we are doing, and the reasons for our actions must spring from the depths of our freedom and be enlivened by the transforming power of Christian love. Otherwise, our self-imposed sacrifices are likely to be pretenses, symbolic gestures without real interior meaning. Sacrifices made in this formalistic spirit tend to be mere acts of external routine performed in order to exorcise interior anxiety and not for the sake of love. In that case, however, our attention will tend to fix itself upon the insignificant suffering which we have piously elected to undergo, and to exaggerate it in one way or another, either to make it seem unbearable or else to make it seem more heroic than it actually is. Sacrifices made in this fashion would be better left unmade. It would be more sincere as well as more religious to eat a full dinner in a spirit of gratitude than to make some minor sacrifice a part of it, with the feeling that one is suffering martyrdom.
-Thomas Merton in The Climate of Monastic Prayer
Pastors often receive requests from parishioners asking to be “dispensed” from fast and abstinence for particular social occasions. Of course, it is precisely on such occasions that the self-denial of fast and abstinence might be most meaningful. Such a “dispensation” is not a pastor’s to give. The Church tells us that in this matter individuals have freedom to excuse themselves but that, “no Catholic will lightly hold himself/herself excused from so hallowed an obligation as this penitential practice.”
Some additional inspiration.
Rattlesnake for dinner tonight.
Ugh. I hate fasting. It is a very healthy spiritual practice and nothing makes me more grateful for the amount and quality of food at my fingertips and empathy for those who go hungry. But oh does it suck.
Rattlesnake doesn’t count as meat??
I always wondered about that. We always had fish on Fridays, but I didn’t know *why* fish wasn’t considered meat.
We’re having eggs for dinner. :)
Surely eggs are okay?
Pierogis, sauteed in butter with onions, sweet’n’sour red cabbage, and sour cream. I don’t really like fish except for shellfish, and scarfing lobsters every Friday is kinda missing the point.
Were having eggs for dinner. :)Caviar, I presume : )
Pierogis, sauteed in butter with onions, sweetnsour red cabbage, and sour cream.Yum, yum, yum!!!
They are NOW - used to be that's why everyone ate pancakes on Mardi Gras, to use up the eggs before Lent. I wonder if that's part of why baby chicks are associated with Easter - since they couldn't eat the eggs, they'd let them hatch?
My mom has a cookbook with recipes reprinted from the old abstinence directives. It used to be much stricter. This is basically just hungry enough to keep you mindful of what day it is.
Where is the biblical warrant for lent?
Matthew 6: 2-4, 16-18
Matthew 17: 20
Thank you. I went looking around. I have 25 dozen eggs right now (my hens won’t quit until fall) and it would be a shame if we couldn’t eat them! We’re pretty hungry, I hear lots of stomach growling going on. LOL.
I just discovered the most awesome clam chowder recipe. I wanted to make it for Ash Wednesday and for Fridays. I wanted something simple and easy. Oh my gosh....
The only changes I made were, I used a cup of flour (instead of 3/4) and stirred it with the melted butter for about 4 minutes until it was really thick, then I added 1 pint (2 Cups) of cream and approx 3 Cups of Whole Milk. After everything is combined. I used a stick hand blender on the simmering vegetables and clam juice, then added it to the mik mixture until it was all creamy. I did add about 10 baby carrots instead of the 1 Cup of carrots.
This is a keeper!!
Not in the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches where they fast from meat, eggs, oil, and a lot of other foods during Lent. Then again, these traditions are cultural where they have developed dishes over the years that are filled with grains, beans and greens. (I had an egg for lunch ;-)
?? I am afraid I see nothing of Lent in those passages. How do you see that?
ugh. The problem with being an uncatechised convert is that I forgot and had bacon and eggs right after noon mass.