Saturday, March 15, 2014
Revealing bones and sinews
Those of you 'traddies' following a traddie Lent have probably already got boils, mouth ulcers, headaches, possibly migraine, at the very least have a constant sense of giddiness are maybe having difficulty focussing whilst saying the office or Mass, and all the time there is that constant sense of hunger, you are tired all the time and your limbs are heavy and you tend to pick up any illness that is going the rounds. You become tetchy and irritable.
Fr Z had a fascinating post presenting the regulations for Lent from an American diocese of 1873, it is severe but several things are mitigations (was quite normal in the pre-Concilliar Church), dairy products are allowed and meat is permitted not just on Sundays but Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
In some places Lent was even more severe, without the mitigations. The severity ended generally in the Church with the Second World War, when no food was available for feasts, fasting made little sense. I remember an Italian women telling me of children going on a wartime hunt for cats for the Easter breakfast but all the cats in the village had already been eaten! Severe fasting made soldiers useless for fighting and labourers useless for heavy labour.
Patristic and medieval writers speak of 'subduing the flesh' with fasting, suggesting that fasting was severe enough that that it lowered the libido. Therefore Dante places certain sexual sinners in the same circle of hell as gluttons.
Coptic friends boast of their 210 fast days a year and I am told that McDonalds in Athens faced financial disaster in Lent until they came up with the McLent Bean Burger.
Fasting and corporal penance were very much part of 'the Tradition', it was seen as offering great spiritual advantages not only for the individual Christian but for the Church as a whole. Fasting lays bare the bones and sinews of the soul.
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