The adventures of fasting

A small group of men I am privileged to affiliate with has recently started to explore the discipline of fasting. It’s been difficult to make sense out of a practice so deeply embedded in the Christian tradition for it is glaringly absent in my own. We prefer feasting to fasting. But despite this obstacle, I’m excited to hear of others’ first steps down this road. The following passage seems particularly applicable.

WHEN A PRUDENT CAPTAIN casts off from the coast, when he enters the deep to journey across the sea, he puts aside his concerns for his home, his country, his wife, his children; and he is so totally consumed in mind, body, and emotion with the tasks of sailing that he is able to overcome the perilous waves and, victorious over danger, enter the quarters of a profitable port. So we too, my brothers, having set out along the route of abstinence, on the sea of fasting, on the journey of Lent, let us cast the ship of our body off from the coast of the world, let us renounce our concerns for our earthly country, let us fully unfurl the sails of our mind on the mast of the cross; let us secure the safe passage of our vessel with the ropes of the virtues, with the oars of wisdom, with the rudders of discipline; and having set forth from the land let us gaze upon the sky, so that by the guidance of the signs of heaven along the clear and narrow paths of our hidden journey we might hold our course unobstructed.
And so with Christ as our pilot and the Holy Spirit providing the wind, when the foam of the pleasures has been overcome, the waves of the vices have been conquered, the storms of misdeeds weathered, the rocks of sin evaded, and when we have steered clear of the vessels of all the offenses, then let us enter the port of Easter, life’s reward, the joys of the resurrection.

Peter Chrysologus. (2004). Selected Sermons of Saint Peter Chrysologus. (W. B. Palardy, Trans., T. P. Halton, Ed.) (Vol. 2, pp. 42–43). Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press.


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