Dear Father Z in the tradition of the Church could one have two small meals and for your full meal have a full meal including dessert?
Should we not have a spirit of penance? How can fasting include dessert.? My husband talked to a lay Franciscan and read the Catechism and insists desser for example a bowl of chocolate ice cream topped with strawberries is still fasting! How can this be? Don’t we try to model ourselves after Jesus? The way He fasted? [Other than the time that He ate nothing for 40 days, and other than the time that He delayed drinking the final cup of wine until He was on the Cross, do you know how He fasted? Moreover, in Matthew 12:1 He and the disciples were hungry, so they ate grain plucked from wheat fields as they walked along… on the sabbath, yet!] Aren’t we supposed to have penance an mortification as part if the fast? Isn’t full just refering to size not number of courses? I feel confused and disappointed. My husband says if I can find in writing that as part of tradition of the church or somewhere in the Catechism it says than fasting does not include dessert that he will stop doing it and teaching our children this way. I looked and hve not found anything! How can this be? Can you teach me and / ir help me!! Please I NEED THIS
One thing that people can surely give up for Lent, and this will be a major sacrifice for some, is looking down their noses at what others choose to do.
I am not convinced that you “need” this from me: common sense does the heavy lifting here.
Let us all stipulate that Lent should be taken seriously. Can we do that?
Fathers of the Church were convinced that the discipline of a season of fasting was of apostolic origin. Hence, we cannot ignore Lent. For example, Caesarius of Arles (+542) teaches:
Aliis diebus ieiunare aut remedium aut premium est, in quadragesima non ieiunare peccatum est. Alio tempore qui ieiunat accipiet indulgentiam, in his diebus qui potest, et non ieiunat, sentiet poenam…. On other days fasting is a remedy or a distinction, but in Lent not to fast is a sin. In another season one who fasts receives an indulgence, but in these days, whoever can fast but doesn’t, will experience punishment. (s. 199)
The reference here is, of course, to fasting.
Fasting means the reduction of food.
Fasting does not mean the reduction of the goodness of the food.
Fasting could include eating simpler food.
Fasting certainly means eating less food.
Fasting doesn’t mean that we must eat bad food, insipid food, or revolting food.
NB: While”fasting” is a technical term, it is also used loosely. Some people say “fasting” and they mean all manner of mortifications, as if they “fast” from, say, watching TV. That’s a penance or a mortification, but it is not, technically, fasting. Fasting really concerns the quantity of food. Don’t confuse fasting with mortifications. Just as a square is a rectangle, not all rectangles are squares. Fasting is a mortification, but not all mortifications are fasts. So, we want to know how we are using our words.
Food can taste good during Lent. Just eat less of it. It could be a help for someone to cut back on the quantity of the food he eats (= fast) if the food he has is a) good and, at the end of a meal, he can b) have something that pleases (= dessert).
Lent doesn’t automatically mean rejection of desserts, or other foods that taste good, or foods that are sweet. Someone might freely choose to give up desserts. That’s fine.
What is it with some people and their war on good food? I post something about cooking and I get hate mail. All I have to do is make something extremely simple and inexpensive look good and the hate mail comes. Put a chive across something and it must be extravagant. Frankly, I find those notes equally pathetic and amusing. If anyone doubts that there are Jansenists around…. But I digress.
Not everyone is a slave to sweets. GOOD GRIEF! How many people for Lent choose to give up chocolate (and that’s it)? It’s a bit trivial. However, we also must recognize that some people in this modern materialistic age of comforts and instant gratifications are spiritually behind the curve: chocolate is about all they can handle. It’s a start. As Paul describes the conflicted Corinthians, some people are spiritual adults and some are still spiritual infants: “I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, for you are still of the flesh.” We all understand that some people are at different stages of their development. However, if people choose to remain spiritual infants rather than grow up… that’s a problem. I also think this applies to the form of the Roman Rite that they attend by choice… but I must close that rabbit hole now.
Giving up certain foods can be a good mortification, a good chosen penance. It is praiseworthy when mortifications offered for the right reasons. Cutting back on the quantity of food during Lent is certainly in the spirit of Lent, especially in places of abundance and for those who are able to do so. Taking on other mortifications during Lent (avoiding certain foods, activities, adding hours of prayer, even performance of works of mercy which involve unpleasantness) are praiseworthy.
On an amusing note, back in the day when I was living with quite a few priests, one guy who didn’t especially like sweets and never ate desserts started eating them during Lent to help everyone else do more penance. A final digression just to sweeten the sharper edge of this response.
Let us all take Lent seriously. It could be a good thing for some of the readers here to start slowly in Lent and then add some mortifications along the way, perhaps week by week.
Now, since it is Sunday, I think I’ll have some raspberries after I eat whatever it is that I’m going to eat for supper. Maybe I’ll put some cream on them.