Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pope Benedict on Fasting (speaking as Cardinal Ratzinger in 1983)

Twenty seven Lents ago, our Holy Father himself gave the Meditations at the Lenten Spiritual Exercises for his beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II. Whilst waiting for this year's meditations to be published I've been reading the first part of 'Journey to Easter'. This was published in English translation by the then Cardinal Ratzinger in 1987. It reproduces all the Meditations he gave during that week in 1983. The short extract below is from the Meditation for the first Sunday of Lent on the Gospel text of that day dealing with the Temptation of Jesus in the Desert..

"Jesus' road begins with the forty days of fasting, as did those of Moses and Elijah. Jesus told his disciples that a certain kind of demon is not to be cast out in any other way than by prayer and fasting..................................

The primacy of God is not really achieved if it does not also include man's corporality.The truly central actions of man's biological life are eating and reproduction, sensuality. Therefore virginity and fasting have been from the beginning of the Christian tradition two indispensable expressions of the primacy of God, of faith in the reality of God. Without being given corporal expression also, the primacy of God remains with difficulty, of decisive moment in man's life. It is true that fasting is not all there is to Lent, but it is something indispensable for which there is no substitute. Freedom in the actual application of fasting is good and corresponds to the different situations in which we find ourselves. But a public and communal act of the Church seems to me to be no less necessary today than in past times, as a public testimony to the primacy of God and of spiritual values, as much as solidarity with all those who are starving.Without fasting we shall in no way cast out the demon of our time."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, fasting from food and drink is a vital component on our journey with Jesus through the desert of Lent. Blessed are those who are able to fast, in whatever shape or form.
God bless. PG