Thought of the day
Friday, March 7, 2014

Friday after Ash Wednesday

"Then they will fast"

Blessed John-Paul II, Pope from 1978 to 2005 
General Audience of 21/03/1979 (trans. © copyright Libreria Editrice Vaticana)
"Then they will fast"

Jesus answered the disciples of John the Baptist when they asked him: "Why do your disciples not fast?" Jesus answered: "Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast" (Mt 9:15). In fact the time of Lent reminds us that the bridegroom has been taken away from us. Taken away, arrested, imprisoned, slapped, scourged, crowned with thorns, crucified. Fasting in the time of Lent is the expression of our solidarity with Christ...  "My love has been crucified and there is no longer in me the flame that desires material things", as the Bishop of Antioch, Ignatius, writes [at the end of the 1st and beginning of the 2nd centuries]... 

Food and drink are indispensable for man to live, he uses them and must use them, but he may not abuse them in any way. The traditional abstention from food and drink has as its purpose to introduce into man's existence not only the necessary balance, but also detachment from what might be defined a "consumer attitude". In our times this attitude has become one of the characteristics of civilization and in particular of Western civilization... Man geared to material goods... very often abuses them.

It is not a question here lust of food and drink. When man is geared exclusively to possession and use of material goods—that is, of things—then also the whole civilization is measured according to the quantity and the quality of the things with which it is in a position to supply man, and is not measured with the yardstick suitable for man. This civilization, in fact, supplies material goods not just in order that they may serve man to carry out creative and useful activities, but more and more... to satisfy the senses, the excitement he derives from them, momentary pleasure, an ever greater multiplicity of sensations, [for example through] audiovisual media... It is seen from this that modern man must fast, that is, abstain not only from food or drink, but from many other means of consumption, stimulation, satisfaction of the senses.

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