Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”

Well well, religion according to journalism.

Pope Benedict XVI is calling for Catholics to fast during Lent as a way of opening their hearts to God and seeing how the poor live.

Fasting to "see how the poor live"...

ah yes. The Catholic teaching on fasting as seen through the pink-tinted lenses of secular journalism.

I suppose the early Fathers and Doctors also said I should also start loading up on microwavable pizza pops and frozen curries. Or perhaps, to develop solidarity with The Poor, I need to quit my job, go on welfare, have six children by seven different men and start getting a chip on my hard-done-by shoulder about how the government owes me rent money and a plasma screen TV.

Is it possible that there is something less...errr...political we might have heard from the Holy Father about the value of fasting? Something in a religious vein perhaps?

Could it be that he had some spiritual improvement in mind?

Since all of us are weighed down by sin and its consequences, fasting is proposed to us as an instrument to restore friendship with God. Such was the case with Ezra, who, in preparation for the journey from exile back to the Promised Land, calls upon the assembled people to fast so that “we might humble ourselves before our God” (8,21). The Almighty heard their prayer and assured them of His favor and protection. In the same way, the people of Nineveh, responding to Jonah’s call to repentance, proclaimed a fast, as a sign of their sincerity, saying: “Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we perish not?” . In this instance, too, God saw their works and spared them.

The Church Fathers, too, speak of the force of fasting to bridle sin, especially the lusts of the “old Adam,” and open in the heart of the believer a path to God...


The faithful practice of fasting contributes, moreover, to conferring unity to the whole person, body and soul, helping to avoid sin and grow in intimacy with the Lord. Saint Augustine, who knew all too well his own negative impulses, defining them as “twisted and tangled knottiness” (Confessions, II, 10.18), writes: “I will certainly impose privation, but it is so that he will forgive me, to be pleasing in his eyes, that I may enjoy his delightfulness” (Sermo 400, 3, 3: PL 40, 708).

Denying material food, which nourishes our body, nurtures an interior disposition to listen to Christ and be fed by His saving word.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

St. Augustine, on fasting (as seen in St. Thomas' Summa Theoligiae): "Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one's flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, and kindles the true light of charity."

Of course, Pope Benedict wouldn't have had any of that in mind, either.

Excellent post. Ran across this quote this morning, and thought you might like it.