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               Wednesday, November 7 2001  

No fast/no feast - 2

It may be ironic that my protest yesterday about jumping the gun on Christmas preparations may have added up to the first Christmas piece of the year. Sometimes the introduction takes over the piece, especially when trying to stay within the postcard format. Sometimes that's a good thing, and I don't apologize for yesterday's entry, though it strikes me in retrospect as very Christmasy and, in that, was ironic.

The real intended topic was fasting as preparation for a feast. Fasts and feasts have ancient traditions in many religions, and certainly in Judaism and Christianity. But these days, few people seem to observe fasts. Traditional Jews practice a constant fast from certain foods, keeping to those blessed as kosher. Muslims also observe constant dietary restrictions and fast from dawn to dusk during Ramadan. Hindus and many Buddhists abstain from all meats.

The traditional Christian fast (apart from totally abstaining from food and drink except for water for some days at a time, which has been widely though not universally practiced) is abstaining from meats including fish, and dairy products, olive oil, wine, and eggs every Wednesday and Friday. The same fast was kept for centuries in Christian cultures through the forty days before and also during Holy Week (called Lent in the west), and forty days before Nativity (Christmas/advent).

There were other fast periods also for lesser feasts during the year, so that just over half of all the days of a typical year are fast days for some Christians. Eastern Orthodox trace their fasts to the first generation of the church and say they are a New Testament reworking of Jewish fasts, including the vegetarian diet of the pious during the Babylonian captivity (as recorded in the book of Daniel), and the diet of John the Baptist and the forty-day fast before His triumphal entry into Jerusalem of the Lord. Fasting is partially based on the fact that the first human sin was eating something the Creator had proscribed. It is also and primarily a physical discipline meant to teach spiritual lessons and to learn through difficulty that the flesh, though weak, can be tamed.

I still intend to get back to the meaning of all this for Christmas preparations.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

How to achieve true inner peace

A therapist told me that the best way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished two bags of chips, a chocolate cake, and a half gallon of chocolate ice cream. I feel much better already....

—Sent by Sally Covolo


He who walks in justice, he who speaks fairlyhe who rejects the spoils of robberyhe who throws back a bribehe who blocks his ears against murderous counselshe who shuts his eyes against evil sights this is he who will dwell on high, secure in a fortress of rocks. Bread is provided him; his water supply is secure.

From Isaiah 33
Daily Canons for Catholics

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