Attending to the daily round of the Divine Office the prayers of the psalmist start to make sense and have a certain impact on the soul. Trust in the words of the psalmist is not based on sentiment –that would be a waste of time– but on relationship between faith and reason viz. our relationship with God. We reach out to God and God bends down to touch our hearts. Moreover, the various hymns we sing, especially the ones we frequently sing during a particular liturgical season, begin to have an impact on our spiritual and human life. If they don’t, then we’re wasting our time: empty words lacking conviction and human desire.
Fasting has never made any sense to me unless I made did it with the reasonableness of all of what I believed about the presence of Christ my life, and the relationship I share with Him. Fasting also lacks meaning unless it is rooted in sacred Scripture, of both Testaments, especially and essentially looking to Christ’s own example as a model for me. Now I am a weak man and I rely on grace for much. I suspect this is true not only for me, but for others as well. Furthermore, feasting on sumptuous foods and fine wines is rather meaningless unless there’s been a discipline fast from things that draw our hearts, minds and bodies which opens up our senses for the best the Lord has to offer. Of course, I am not advocating the doing of things that are impracticable, for Aquinas tells of the art of the possible.
A 6th century Latin hymn at Lauds today made me think of fasting given that the Lord had done so when he walked this good earth. The hymn’s author states: “for Christ, through whom all things were made, himself has fasted and has prayed” and then he petitions the Lord: “Then grant us, Lord, like them to be full oft in fast and prayer with thee; our spirits strengthen with thy grace, and give us joy to see thy face.” First we acknowledge the fact that the Lord engaged in fasting to focus His attention on the Divine Will and to ward off temptation. The implication is that we are to imitate the Lord’s example while asking for the grace of strength in an attempt to do spiritual battle with the certain hope of beholding the face of the Redeemer.
To that end, I was pleasantly surprised to see today’s essay on the First Things blog on fast and feast. Peter Liethart’s essay “Keep the Fast, Keep the Feast” is a superb reflection on the meaning of a Christian’s fast and feast in Lent.
What banquet are you are preparing to eat? Or are you going to eat from the dumpster? What does the fast and feast mean to you? Are you patterning your life according to Christ’s example? In what ways is the Lord preparing you to fully enter into beatitude? Do these Christian practices bring you closer to Christ and the Christian proposal to fully live?