LIVING IN THE DESERT (GOOD
We fast to remove our attachments.
God fasted the Jewish people in the desert for forty years to remove
whatever attachments they developed during their stay in Egypt.
Christ showed us how to remove all attachments during His 40 days of
fasting in the desert. And Scriptures has it that Christ fasted from
all attachments only once; if done well, these attachments do not
Christ commanded us to be detached
from the world; this is done through fasting. Because Christ fasted
for 40 days and 40 nights, faith demands that we do likewise. And he
who disregards this duty is guilty of negligence and arrogance
because he violates a law divinely given for his salvation.
Christ went hungry for our
salvation and we cannot go hungry for our own salvation. So, the
Jews were made to fast during their 40 years sojourn in the desert.
Yes, God fed them with manna; but that was almost it -- manna and
water. And those who took more manna than needed discovered that
their manna had turned into worms.
To fast during the whole liturgical
year is profitable. St. Benedict describes the life of a monk as a
permanent Lenten observance. But to fast during Quadragesima
is obligatory. The former is voluntary, the latter is necessary. The
first comes from free choice, the other from the law. To one we
are invited; to the other, we are obliged. Not to do the first
is an imperfection; not to do the second is a sin.
Quadragesima, i.e., the 40 days of
fasting during Lent, is liturgically living in the desert; a time
wherein we ought not to think of worldly delights and bodily
pleasures. Though we live in cities, we must dwell in the desert of
Christ fasted for 40 days and 40
nights. He denied Himself of all worldly attachments. . .until all
the attachments were gone. Of course, Christ had no attachments but
then He was demonstrating to us how to fast. It is a sacrilege not
to fast and abstain from your attachments.
Lent invites us to fast from sin,
from indifferent things and even from good things. For fasting is
the friend of virginity and the enemy of lasciviousness; while
satiety is the friend of wantonness and the enemy of chastity.
St. Maximus of Turin