Fasting-A A +A
Saturday, February 23, 2013
EVERYONE has a favorite thing—a favorite hobby, a favorite food, a favorite drink, a favorite pastime, or a favorite activity. If people were to stop eating their favorite food or stop doing their favorite activity, depending on what those favorite things might be the person abstaining from them would either feel very sad or go crazy. I know I would if I wasn’t allowed near my laptop again.
For Catholics, the season of Lent began on February 13 this year and for forty days, practicing Catholics are expected to abstain from meat-eating on Fridays.
About a few hundred years ago, Holy Mother Church commanded that every Wednesday and Friday would be meatless all-year-round. In fact, fish, eggs and butter were forbidden as well. Not only was life depressing for the medieval peasant, but it was made even more depressing by the fasting he had to undergo in the name of his religion.
During the Lenten season, one could only eat after sundown—a bit of a bummer for a peasant, since most of the hard work that needed to be done on a farm was done in the morning.
Nowadays, though, the practice of fasting has been relaxed – which is a good thing, because a lot of people would be ignoring the rules if we still weren’t allowed to eat fish, butter or eggs. I mean, what did they eat back then? Soft, moldy “pan de despair”?
In any case the modern rules say “No meat on Fridays”. However, they also encourage good Catholics to undertake an extra fast, to emulate Christ’s 40 days of temptation in the desert.
When I say “extra fast,” I don’t mean going to Sunday mass and screaming “Go! Go! Go!” at the priest to make him end the service faster. I mean skipping something you like doing for forty days.
It’s meant to hurt, and according to church teachings, the mortification of the flesh leads to the purification of the soul, which means that suffering can be used to atone for your sins, much like confession.
This, and maybe some feeling of accomplishment, is the only consolation you get when you skip that special something for one month and four days in a row.
Also, according to Catholic Canon law—and this is good news—one cannot break a fast by drinking alcoholic beverages, unless one is specifically fasting from drinking alcohol. (If you have beer for breakfast, liquor for lunch and banana daiquiris for dinner, then you need an alcohol fast, buddy.)
As for me, I have convinced myself not to drink anything but water for the whole Lenten season. Maybe you should try something, too. Who knows? You may feel better about yourself after the whole 40 day ordeal.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on February 24, 2013.