Archive for the ‘fasting’ Tag

Fasting In Solidarity   Leave a comment

It’s that time of year again, Lent, the time for 40 days of fasting. Fasting means many things, and of course includes eating less especially on Fridays. But not being someone who is keen on doing something just because “I’m supposed to”, “it’s tradition”, or because I’m told to, I’ve struggled some with the Friday fasting/abstinence. As a kid I really looked forward to being old enough to participate in these rituals. As a conscious adult my attempts at fasting usually fell flat, though, in large part because there’s no real impetus, no reason. Then I met my husband who absolutely disdains the practice of abstaining from meat as a holdover from medieval days when that practice was supposedly instituted on the peasants (but not necessarily the nobility or those who could give a contribution to the church). In any case, I had never encountered a good reason for the practice of abstaining from meat. I understand the spiritual tradition of fasting, and while in part I can buy in, when I’m hungry, shaky, and grumpy fasting doesn’t seem like such a good spiritual practice. Then several years ago when doing JustFaith, I first heard the proposition to fast in solidarity with the poor around the world. I immediately latched onto that, it made so much sense and really just felt like the right thing to do!

So back in 2007 I decided that fasting in solidarity with the poor would be a Lenten practice of mine. Yeah. It’s 2012 now and I still haven’t figured out exactly what that means. For the first few years I just interpreted it as small simple meals (no fancy ingredients and no/limited expensive animal products), with no high-calorie processed snacks in between. That’s fine, but it doesn’t involve doing anything different from normal, and for the last few years I’ve been restless. Normal for us is vegetarian stir fry, rice and beans, meatless dinner salads, basic pasta, potato/onion/egg, etc. Mostly simple meals. Last year I discovered that Catholic Relief Services includes recipes from various third world countries in their Operation Rice Bowl packet, and I thought that would be a better way to make this a specific practice. But I got lazy and didn’t go hunting for recipes. This year I went to the CRS website to get the recipes and discovered that several of them are dishes I can’t cook right now in season. Tomatoes and bell peppers may be in season in the global south right now, but not in the global north. And I don’t see how eating produce shipped from the other side of the world is solidarity with people who don’t have that luxury. I’ll stick with this theory of simple meals on Fridays in Lent, but just acknowledge that it still feels somewhat hollow of a commitment.

I’m back to the idea of fasting as reduced quantity of food, in solidarity with people around the world who cannot afford multiple filling meals each day. So far I’m 0-for-3 on eating fewer than three meals, but at least they are small not-filling meals. Unfortunately, that is also normal for me as I usually eat to no-longer-hungry as opposed to eating until full. And again, I have no self discipline and tend to give in and eat something when my stomach growls at me and my legs feel shaky. How Muslims get through Ramadan is beyond me! I’ve been trying to get down to 2 meals this year, and I’ll keep trying. Since this is a spiritual practice it is the thought, thoughts, prayers, and intentions that count, right?


Posted March 2, 2012 by mayakey in spiritual practices

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Lenten Fasts   Leave a comment

The season of Lent is a season of sacrifice, formation, and renewal. Lenten sacrifices get a bad rap, in my opinion. It seems that it is popular for people to give up things like chocolate, wine, desserts, smoking, etc. with no intention to use this period of sacrifice to bring about personal renewal. Without a purpose, what good is sacrifice? Sacrifice for the purpose of sacrifice seems rather pointless. But last year I had the realization that those very same sacrifices, even if made only for the 40 days, can be part of a very positive spiritual experience even if they are not meant to be permanent sacrifices. It is interesting that the sacrifices that have become synonymous with Lent in popular culture are actually not explicitly a part of Catholic dogma. Catholics are called to fasting, and that fasting can include many things. For years I have been distracted by the need to come up with something to sacrifice during Lent, and as a result completely missed the point and ended up sacrificing nothing, really. This year is different. Granted, I’m not on a good start since the first week fell flat, but this is a work in progress.

By fasting instead of sacrificing, I can make a connection beyond myself, and not just stay caught up in myself. Fasting helps to reduce the distractions that keep us from truly connecting with ourselves and our spiritual nature, and provides a means for solidarity with the majority of the world that have less than ourselves.

Food related fasting has been a challenge, since I live and eat with someone who has no desire/intention to join me in the fasting. Note that I’m talking Catholic-style fasting here, which means limiting food to three simple meals on fasting days. The idea of fasting in solidarity with the third world has long held appeal to me, and has usually meant that we eat a lot of rice and beans, or just cobbled together vegetable dinners during Lent (and the rest of the year as well, really). I really need to formalize it, and I love the CRS idea this year of making a meal each week that is representative of a typical meal for a poor family in a third world country. Maybe that way I can have my sacrifice and solidarity, and my husband can avoid any fasting or abstinence, all in the same meal! Of course, I missed the first Friday, and I’ll be out of town spending time with my aunt and grandma for the second Friday so this won’t start until week 3.

In addition to attempting to do solidarity meals, I am fasting from television this year, meaning no TV on Fridays and less TV the rest of the week. The purpose is not actually to watch less TV, but to remove that distraction that keeps me from truly connecting with my own life, self, and loves. My hope is that by reducing that artificial stimulation, I can better be stimulated by the things that I really love like my mind, my husband, good food, beautiful plants, etc. With the exception of the 1 and a half TV shows that I actually enjoy watching (I miss more CSI episodes than I watch, due to choir, so it only partially counts), when the TV is on I have to admit it is usually just making my head spin and not really adding much value to my life.


Posted March 13, 2011 by mayakey in spiritual practices

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