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Thursday, February 07, 2008



Is Al Gore preaching the Lenten reflection at Westminster Abbey?


During the homily I heard on Ash Wednesday, the priest emphasized that fasting is a way to unite ourselves with the poor and the hungry. Not much about penance or purification or preparation. Am I wrong to feel that the priest was a bit off?


I firmly agree that fasting in a Christian context is fundamentally about "purification and preparation"; through fasting we create space within ouselves and within our lives for God's presence. Fasting from food in particular provided an excellent reminder of how our spirit hungers for God.

I wholeheartedly disagree with your criticism of cutting carbon emissions as a ligitamate and holy method of fasting in this lenten season. In the Western culture we are generally blinded by materialism and excessive consumption at the expense of not only the planet and other people, but also of our communion with the Lord. This materialism is directly connected to the overuse of carbon fuels and other resources and to environmental effects such as climate change. It is relatively easy to cut your food intake on a couple of days, but it can very difficult to change one's lifestyle. It surely cannot be a less worthy sacrifice to prayerfully make room for God in ones life by fasting from excessive consumption in the name of convenience, entertainment, or comfort! I venture that separating ourselves from a culture of consumption gives a far greater opportunity for spiritual growth than eating tuna this Friday!

As you say, we must not forget why we fast, and in doing so we should reflect on what it is that we are least willing to leave behind for the Lord, remembering that food is not the only thing that One goes without if One spends 40 days in the desert.

Carl Olson

It is relatively easy to cut your food intake on a couple of days, but it can very difficult to change one's lifestyle.

Perhaps I should have noted that, since I attend a Byzantine Catholic parish, my family and I attempt to go vegan (at least vegetarian) for the entire Great Fast—every day, not just one or two days a week. And maybe that is part of the reason I have such a negative reaction to the story. But my main point still remains this: it smacks of reactionary political correctness, not authentic Christian spirituality.

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