Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A Reflection to End Fat Tuesday

(I was once in New Orleans soon after their Mardi Gras celebration and besides wonderful memories of fresh pastries, trolley car rides and evening waterside strolls, I have this silly memory of a man coming up to my companions and me on the street only to place some left-over Mardi Gras colorful plastic necklaces around our necks. He put a green necklace on my neck, "because it looks like you really like money." Well, apparently he liked money, because as soon as he bestowed his gifts, he expected reimbursement and he wouldn't take the necklaces back. An odd way to do business!)

Do you want a sure way to think about food a lot?

Don't eat. Fast.

Isn't it ironic that as soon as we reject a normal part of our daily routine to turn our minds Heavenward, we find that our thoughts are more consumed than ever with our longings for the comforts of this Earth?

So why fast? Our Lord practiced the discipline regularly and thought it an important one for us. I guess that is reason enough.

Bishop John Allen (qtd. in E. Elliot's Discipline: The Glad Surrrender) adds other reasons to practice the discipline of fasting:

1. It helps us to identify with the hungry, who we are commanded to serve.

2. It reminds us to pray.

3. It makes us open to God's call.

4. It prompts us to reflect on the outworking of His call.

5. It is a mysterious instrument of the Holy Spirit's work.

I especially like that last reason. When we do without what we want most, the Holy Spirit somehow has room to form us, to mold us, to use us. Why or how? I don't know; it is a mystery.

May the Season of Lent open our eyes anew to the power and mystery of the Spirit's work that comes uniquely along the path of prayer and fasting.