Monday, November 15, 2010

On The First Day Of Fasting, My True Love Said To Me...


...that two whole months of total sexual abstinence await us...

4 comments:

godescalc said...

Like the more critical commentator in that threat, I'm slightly bemused by how this squares with stuff like "it was for freedom that Christ has set us free" or "my yoke is easy and my burden light." Or is it not so much "compulsory" as "strongly recommended"?

(I ask in the hope of getting an answer, rather than to snark.)

(...what am I disclaiming snark for to you? :)

Lvka said...

Christ freed us from any sort of compulsion. And it's good to be free.

godescalc said...

I'm not quite sure how to respond, because I'm not totally seeing the relevance. So Christ's yoke isn't, in fact, easy and his burden isn't light but it's all OK because Freedom is Awesome? The Pharisees' schema of excessive rules and regulations made people "weary and heavy laden", but having an even harsher regimen of fasting and abstinence counts as a light and easy burden because it's associated with the name of Christ, and we're assured that He sets us free from the slavery of the Law, so Church discipline can't possibly be anything other than freedom even if it's harsher than the Law?

I assume there's some good reason for having required fasts, because (a) the early Christians did it and (b) Christ talked about fasting as if it were a given and also (c) the (apparent) tension between freedom in Christ and the sometimes-onerous nature of Christian morality and discpline reflects the cheerful contradiction between "my burden is light" and "take up your cross and follow Me." But I'm not sure what that reason is yet, and it also seems really insane to take freedom in Christ as license to try to outdo the old Law in harshness and heavy burdens.

Lvka said...

I was talking about sexual compulsion. [I'm not aware of anyone being addicted to fasting.. :-) ]

Regarding Christ's light yoke, to quote a former priest-monk (now bishop): "Following Christ is not hard: it's impossible". And yet, what's not possible to men is possible for God (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27). The same Bible that tells us that without God we cannot do anything (John 15:5), also tells us that we can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

Circumcision does not save, being neither a virtue, nor a good deed, but merely a symbol of things that are such (sacrificing oneself unto God, cutting off the excesses of the flesh, and keeping one's soul pure from uncleanness). -- That's why Saint James mentions the sacrifice of Isaac, and not Abraham's circumcision, as proof of his true faith in God (proof, and not a mere sign of something that -in actuality- might or might not be really present there in its bearer).

And yes, Christ DID "burden" us with "an even harsher regimen" of commandments that concern truly good and far better things than those contained in the Law of Moses: not lusting, not hating, giving alms to the poor and the needy, forgiving our enemies, doing good to those that do us harm, blessing those that curse us, loving those that hate and despise us, etc.

Specifically, fasting consists in putting to rest the "works of the flesh" and "deeds of the body" that are spoken of in Romans 8 & Galatians 5. This is obviously done by "temperance", which Saint Paul counts among the fruits of the Spirit in the same chapter: and bear in mind the fact that he calls the Law "carnal", and opposes the Spirit to "the letter of the Law". And the money saved by not buying food is given to the poor, according to the word of God spoken by Isaiah the Prophet (58:6-7).

Purity and love (which is what we seek to embody and exercise through our fasting) are NOT "works of the Law". By emptying ourselves of passions and abstaining from all things carnal, we are filled by the very real presence of the Holy Spirit. By renouncing flesh and its by-products (milk and eggs), we're cleansed and made able to partake of the body of the Lord. By giving up the beauty and pleasure of the carnal union with our beloved spouses, we're enabled to become one flesh with Christ the Bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13; Mark 2:18-20; Luke 5:33-35; John 3:29) in Holy Communion. By bitter tears of repentance for our sins, we're capable of entering the joy of the Feast.

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