Just this past week, I happened to come across the below words from the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, a religious institute of the Roman Catholic Church located in Nashville, Tennessee. I thought they were powerful, particularly as we prepare for Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. May these words both bless and convict us, reminding us of the true meaning of the Easter season.
“As Christians, we know, at least theoretically, that we are meant to take up our cross and follow Christ. There is a breaking, a death that must occur before we can experience resurrection. Easter is not about Christ returning to the same old life; it is about new life, Eternal Life. The same is true of our own resurrection, on the Last Day, but also the resurrections that follow our daily deaths to self.
But do we attempt to assuage the pain of those daily crosses by seeking comfort in the goods of this world? Food, alcohol, entertainment and numerous other pleasurable goods can easily be used as pain killers or may act like decoys, which lure us away from the eternal good to which the Cross leads, by presenting passing goods that are more immediately within our reach. That is not to say that the goods of this world are evil; the problem is that we tend to turn goods into gods. We seek comfort and consolation in these things rather than in God who is our Comfort and Consolation.
The Catholic tradition of fasting directly counteracts this tendency. We recognize the goodness of created things, yet at certain times, such as Lent, we deny ourselves these earthly comforts in order to refocus and recommit ourselves to following Christ on the Via Crucis which leads to Life and Resurrection. Fasting is not about losing weight, not even about increasing our self-mastery, although it certainly can have these and other positive side effects.
The reason for our fasting – be it from food or drink, T.V. or radio, social media, etc. – should be to increase our hunger for “the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:32-33). Jesus is the Bread which sustains us in our journey through life, so whatever form of fasting we can take on to help us recognize our deep need for him is worth the sacrifice.”