THE “SPIRITUALITY” OF FASTING


“Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” (Gen 3: 1-3)

As the Nativity Fast continues, I’m thinking about the “place” of concrete, physical food (and drink) within the “spirituality” of our Church’s tradition of fasting. Because one hears, sometimes, the opinion that it isn’t, or shouldn’t be, “really,” about food (and drink), but about “more spiritual” considerations. Perhaps this is because of the misleading connotations of the words “spiritual/spirituality,” which seem to exclude the “body” and all things material, including food, from the “spirit.”

But if by “spirituality” we mean our connection with God, then the Judeo-Christian tradition offers a far more physical understanding of the term. It includes the whole human being, taken on by our Lord Jesus Christ in His Incarnation, when “the Word became flesh” (Jn 1: 14). Not only was our “Fall” connected to physical food, or how we chose to nourish our bodies, contrary to God’s commandment, (see the quote above), but so is our Redemption connected to the Eucharist, at which we choose to “take and eat,” and also “drink,” of the Body and Blood of Christ, as He commanded (Mt 26: 26-27).

So let me pay attention to my food-choices today, and take tender-loving-care of my body, as I take care of my soul, in this joyous fasting-season before Christmas. Because God has paid attention to the entire me, His beloved creation, setting healthy boundaries both for my soul and my body, since the beginning of time.

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