Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Commercialisation of Fasting

One of the things that annoys me is that Lenten discipline; fasting, abstaining, even almsgiving, has been taken over by Catholic aid agencies. Despite sharing many people's problems with Cafod, I have to ask where else do we send money for emergency relief?
I do resent the notion that fasting and abstainence should be presented, especially in our schools, in terms of the cash value to aid charities. "I fast in order to save, in order to give to an orgainisation that gives to the poor", has a hint of commercialisation, literally the cash value of fasting.
Primarily fasting and abstainence are acts of worship, they go together with prayer. A by product is a strengthening of the will, a cutting loose of ties that bind us to Self, much less important might or might not be more spare cash, health benefits etc. Almsgiving is important too but Jesus expects us to use it as a way of getting involved with the poor, using a "agency" of some kind seems a bit like "buying in services" to distance ourselves from face to face giving.
Worship and obedience to Christ, should be an end in themselves. We fast because the Lord told us to do so. One can, and the Gospel encourages us, to fast for a particular intention, to overcome a particular "demon" in our lives. TheFathers speak about fasting to subdue the flesh, for example an addiction to pornography, which seems so prevalent and not just amongst the young.

3 comments:

RJ said...

Aid to the Church in Need seems like a good alternative. I believe they also deal with disaster relief.

Then there's the Little Way Association.

Richard said...

Ah, Father, that reminds me of a business idea that I had but never got off the ground.

It was for a fixed menu restaurant, taken to extremes. There would be no choices, and no catering for faddy diets or allergies - you would simply go in, sit down, pay a fixed price and be served that day's meal and wines.

But on fast days it would be an appropriate meal; no meat, no wine, no pudding. Same price.

Would that have been terribly wrong of us?

Fr Seán Coyle said...

RJ, you may be interested in this article on Mary Doohan, the founder of the Little Way Association http://misyononline.com/new/mar-apr2009/The-Little-Way. Two of her brothers, Fathers John and Michael,became Columbans and were sent to Negros, where I'm based. Father John, ordained in 1947, died and was buried here in January 2009, while Father Michael, ordained in 1952, is still working here