Friday, February 27, 2009

Fasting And Abstinence

Friday. A day to remember and revisit the beautiful tragedy of Calvary.

Christ’s agony in the garden. The scourging at the pillar. Christ being crowned with a crown of thorns. The Lord carrying a cross much heavier than its wooden composition. Christ’s Crucifixion.

Nothing pretty. So much pain. Interior and physical.

Globally, every Friday in the Catholic Church is set apart as a day of fasting and abstinence as a means to respectfully honor that day when Christ’s physical life was totally consummated. Somewhere along the way the American Bishops concluded that American Catholic’s are too weak to endure such rigors and lifted the element of abstinence on Friday's except during the season of Lent. I must admit that I don’t understand their reasoning. I accept it. I must accept it. But I do not understand it.

Imagine that. While impoverished and undernourished Third World Catholic’s are required to fast and abstain from meat on Friday’s throughout the year, spoiled and gluttonous American’s are able to savor a steak or pork chop. We are, albeit, encouraged to offer an extra prayer or make some other token offering.

Me? Weak and often undisciplined me? Though I don’t understand their reasoning, and judicially I really don’t have to understand their reasoning, I’m grateful that the Bishop’s have lifted the “pain of sin” from eating meat on Friday’s the rest of the year. Though I do not seek to justify my human American condition, I confess that I am a lazy and undisciplined American.

It just makes me wonder though. How real, how significant, how relevant is the Crucifixion in the hearts and minds of people? Is the Historical Event so far past that its Reality has faded into historcal oblivion or been hidden by the fog of life in these modern times?

“The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent. Since few, however, have the strength for this, we urge the entire community during these days of Lent to keep its manner of life most pure and to wash away in this holy season the negligences of other times.”[1]

Friday. One day. One day out of seven. One day to fast and abstain. Six to feast.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

On me.

[1] RB 49:1-3