Canisius | 26 February, 2009 18:50
Gueranger's introduction to the Lenten volume (V, 1-19) stresses the importance of real, serious fasting, and how this practice had fallen by the wayside before the author's time. Of course, fasting even in Gueranger's time was much than now, because now we have a something lenient fast only two days out of the year. Gueranger is no doubt rolling in his grave.
In previous years, I have always found fasting extremely difficult. I wondered how men of bygone eras could function through forty days of fasting when I would grow weak, headachy, and sleepy in less than one day. How did they do that?
This year, a couple of months before Lent began I gave up snacks between meals. I gave myself permission to eat as much as I wanted during meals, but I did not eat anything outside of the standard three meals per day. It was hard for a few days, but I got used to it and now it does not feel much like a penance.
Yesterday, on Ash Wednesday, the fast was not really very hard. It was a little hard, of course, as one would hope, but I functioned just fine through an entire work day and even had energy in the evening. This makes me wonder: is fasting really hard for us today because, as a culture, we "graze" or eat frequently instead of only at meal times? In most times and in most places, people have not eaten between meals; the frequent snack is a relatively recent invention of an affluent people.
Now, I'm not saying that skipping snacks is healthier than grazing or that grazing is healthier than skipping snacks. I don't have any medical expertise. I'm just wondering whether there is a connection between our cultural habit of grazing and our amazement at the penances of long ago.