73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God – 13

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. The previous are posted below among the other posts and last week’s archives. Here is the thirteenth step:

(13) To love fasting.

Most of us are not familiar with fasting, but we are with dieting. They are not the same thing. Dieting has to do with vanity, fasting has to do with a higher good. We all feel so many needs that are not real but remain unaware. Fasting is a traditional means of gaining the wisdom of what we truly need.

Notice that St. Benedict’s counsel is not simply to “fast” but rather to “love” fasting. He wishes that the monk’s desire be– to do without.

I am reminded of an old distinction made by Archbishop Fulton Sheen on his Life is Worth Living series. We have little choice over what we like, but love is an act of the will. We can choose to love something and we usually do learn to love both things and people that initially we may not have liked. We can also learn and choose to hate.

In a society such as ours fasting happens often enough but not for it’s own sake. People traveling or involved in work regularly skip meals for the sake of whatever has their focus. The problem is that in the long run we tend to be like camels and when we do sit down to eat, we gorge ourselves in case it might be awhile before we set down again.

What if we choose rather to only eat what we need? This has been suggested in numerous weight loss books as the most effective way of losing weight. It seems simple and reasonable. Notice that it essentially involves an act of will—but also notice that it is based on another truth that we tend to take more than we need.

What we need is the issue here. We seem totally out of touch with what we need to live healthy and productive lives versus what we are constantly being told we need to be happy.

It perhaps is wise in this environment to modify St. Benedict’s counsel to a more moderate course of action. We should love to fast from all excess. Since most of us are so caught up in a life of excess and are bombarded with messages that seek to convince our wills that we need more in order to survive, perhaps what we need to do first is to simply convince ourselves that we don’t need as much.

A simple meal will suffice. Does something in the back of my mind tell me that I need more?

Yes, I tell myself I need God. God is the “more” that I need and desire at all times!

Yes, I need the Bread of Life, but thank God this meal has given me the nourishment that my body needs and now I am ready to go on to the next part of my day.

I am not talking about dieting here, but I am talking about an attitude adjustment. A metanoia, “a complete turning around”, is what is necessary here. Years of being told we need more and more have left us unsatiated no matter how much we have acquired or have placed before us.

To “love” fasting is to fall in love with the feeling of incompleteness that only God can fill.

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