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Posts Tagged ‘alms-giving’

Next week Wednesday, March 9th,  is Ash Wednesday.  Fasting does not mean eating fast food!  It also does not  mean a divine diet.  It is part of the trinity  including alms-giving and praying.  The Gospel for Ash Wednesday is the Lord Jesus’ teaching on this trinity in Matthew 6:  please read it.  A couple of comments

  • Notice that this discipline covers three aspects of everyday living very near and sometimes too dear to us in the wrong ways:  food, money and words (fasting, giving to the poor and praying).
  • Our Lord says When you fast etc.  not if.  It is not restricted to Lent!
  • St. Augustine said that the two wings of prayer are alms-giving and fasting. Our reward is the Lord and in the fullness of all things will be.
  • Notice that the Lord does not want us to talk about our fasting, etc. with others and why. Well, why?   The article below, “Fasting from Fasting?”,  is from cyberbrethren, and it speaks to our Lord’s teaching especially about “talking about it”  and  other good points:

I just read a blog site that was sarcastically observing that fasting is nothing but works-righteousness and has no spiritual benefit, at all.

Now, granted, fasting has been turned very much into a “brownie point with God” kind of thing among many who practice it. I was observing recently the horrendously complex regulations, rules, requirements and even food choices that some Eastern Orthodox folks are subjected to by way of fasting. Aside from being entirely ridiculous and absurd, it is downright heretical to lay such a legalistic burden on folks. Why take all the joy out of a blessing by creating codes of canon law about it?

Fasting is fasting. You choose not to eat a meal or two during the day or abstain from something else for a period of time. I’m not a big fan of “fasting” from non-food things. Fasting means not eating. But that’s another discussion. I mean, fine, if you want to “fast” from watching TV, ok, but…don’t think you are actually fasting, you are abstaining from something, not fasting. Here’s a hint. When you fast your stomach will let you know it. If you don’t feel hunger pangs, you aren’t fasting.

It strikes me there are two problems with fasting though.

First, what’s with all this talking about our fasting? When we fast, says Jesus, we are to do so in such a way that nobody can tell we are fasting! But I often read posts from people declaring that they are fasting and from what they are fasting. That’s not right. So, please, when you fast, we don’t have to know about it. It’s between you and God. Talk to Him about it, not us. So, when you fast, anoint your face and do not act like the hypocrites who disfigure their faces to be seen by others. Prayer and fasting have always gone together in the Bible and in historic Christian piety. It’s ok to fast, but just don’t talk a whole lot about your fasting, ok? Talking about fasting is fine, talk about *your* fasting, no-no.

Secondly, there is another problem. When Lutherans rightly blasted Romanists for their legalistic views of fasting that was very well and very good. But…we have nearly lost sight of an important sentence in the Small Catechism. “Fasting and bodily preparation are certainly fine outward training.” Read that again. “Certainly fine outward training.” And please note what the Blessed Apostle St. Paul said, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” 1 Corinthians 9:27.

So, what about fasting? In our haste to avoid any problems with it because of mistaken practices, have we thrown out the baby with the bath water? I sure think so. Let’s get fasting under control, but not by fasting from fasting.

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