Posted by: cmittermeier | December 23, 2011

Austerity, Fasting, our modern world

Today a friend sent me the daily “Saint of the Day”, a daily email subscription from  Tomorrow is the last day of Advent, as the dusk falls I will be no longer in a penitental season.  I am eating another breakfast of soup as I type.  It is hard eating soup at 8:22am.

It is a good bowl of soup, if statistics are right 925 million people in this world do not have such bounty.  My soup is a tomatoe base, with cabbage, rice, beans, carrots and both red and green peppers.  It is hearty, flavourful, colourful and shows how ungrateful, spoiled, and self-righteous I am.  I have plenty – we all have plenty!  Yet what have we done with it?  What have I done with it?

As I eat I fight against a lump in my throat.  How often in my life have I given a token gift while keeping the good ones for myself?  How often have I satisfied my conscience with a bag of used clothes or a donation that doesn’t interfere with our rewards?  We don’t have cable, we watch DVDs instead and boxing day is coming… what new series will we find? How many children will die of malnutrition while we indulge our “need” for entertainment?

Outside of my family “we”, I see a world that knows little of austerity, or sacrifice.  “I want it all, and I want it now” was one of my favourite lines sung by Queen, now I fear it is a very real truth about our world.  I remember my father teaching me about ancient civilizations, Rome, Greece, Egypt – and how they fell.  I can’t help but ponder.  I read an article last year on sexuality in Rome before Christianity.  It was eerily familiar.  Where are we going?  Who will rescue us?

Two days till Christmas, two days till my fast ends, till I can eat my beloved toast for breakfast instead of beans and cabbage soup.  Two more days of anticipation.  Two more days of austerity in a world of gluttony.  Here is a quote about the Saint of the day.  I am ashamed how true it is, how what was once considered normal practice (fasting) is the summit of my journey so far.  Once again, I have walked over a bar set horribly low to the ground.

John of Kanty is a typical saint: He was kind, humble and generous, he suffered opposition and led an austere, penitential life. Most Christians in an affluent society can understand all the ingredients except the last: Anything more than mild self-discipline seems reserved for athletes and ballet dancers. Christmas is a good time at least to reject self-indulgence.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: