Friday, March 4, 2022

Do not let your fast be another person's penance?


“Your Fast ends in quarreling”


I had heard the phrase a lot these past couple of years – “Do not let your fast be another person’s penance”.


What I think this phrase gets correct is that we should not allow our fasting to end in quarrelling as the first reading from Isaiah puts it.  We should have enough discipline not just to abstain and fast from something, but also the discipline and spiritual strength to not let that fast deteriorate us to the point where we are irritable.


But if by the phrase “Do not let your fast be another person’s penance” one means there are certain things that a person should not fast from, that is problematic.  An example might be “If I give up caffeine, because I know that it will make me irritable, I should not give up caffeine.”  But I think that is wrong.  What we should do is give up caffeine AND have the strength to not allow that fast to become another person’s burden.

I am not saying that we should set ourselves up to fail...if we are new to giving things up for Lent certainly we need to be patient with ourselves.

The Catholic Church does not even require us to fast during Lent other than Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, but if we fast from something, perhaps it should be the thing we are most afraid to go without.

Isaiah chastises those whose fasting ends in quarrelling…may that not be said of us, no matter what we are fasting from.

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