I attended a meeting with some friends the other morning and one person said she would like to have a future meeting to address the question: “Why fast?” She justified the question with: “After all, lent is coming.” I thought to myself, yes, and while we’re at it, we might address, why suffering, injustice and the cross. For me, they are all intimately bound one to each other.
Bryan Stevenson in his TED2012 talk We need to talk about an injustice says: “Ultimately, you judge the character of a society, not by how they treat their rich and the powerful and the privileged, but by how they treat the poor, the condemned, the incarcerated. Because it’s in that nexus that we actually begin to understand truly profound things about who we are.”
That last phrase, at least for me, contains the answer of why I fast (less than two normal meals per day and not eating between meals): “…it’s in that nexus that we actually begin to understand truly profound things about who we are.” I suspect that you are not too different from myself in that when life is going along fine, i.e. my bills are paid, there’s still some money in my bank account, and I even have some left over to drop in the “Poor Box” at church that I fool myself and think: “I’ve got this life business down–I know what’s it all about.”
On the other hand, when I’m hungry and there’s no dinner on the table to satisfy me or I’m broke and still have a pile of bills to pay that I’m brought immediately to the present moment, the moment where I can find God. That’s a scary moment for me. At first I realize how totally inadequate I am to satisfy the injustices of the world, I can’t even satisfy my hunger or need for money. I experience my neediness. It’s also at that moment, if I am willing to actually face it and not run away through some addiction, that I realize, “we” can. We can fill the hunger in each of our bellies. We can satisfy the hunger for justice. We can give sight to the sightless. We can set the downtrodden free. In short, I can’t; we can.
So for me the answer to why fast, is to wake myself up the present moment. When I’m hungry, I don’t think about tomorrow, or yesterday. I am totally in the moment. That moment is filled with many good things, but it is also lacking in many good things. When we work together, we address that hunger, that suffering, those crosses, and we find new life.
Posted by Dan O’Donnell, a layman who has covenanted with the Chicago Community of Passionist Partners. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey
We are a community of laymen and laywomen who, with vowed Passionists, seek to share in the charism of St. Paul of the Cross through prayer, ongoing spiritual formation, and proclamation of the message of Christ Crucified.