Sunday, January 13, 2013

Fast Diary Day #2 (Pray-Cana Post)

My husband is much better at fasting than I am. He actually gained some notoriety among friends and family for his self-developed corn diet, which involved eating only corn on the cob for about a month. "How many ears of corn per day?" "Two." "With butter?" "With butter." (Don't try this at home. My husband is a corn-diet professional.) So, when someone hacked his Facebook account and sent out messages that my husband had lost 10 pounds eating only raspberries, a lot of his friends and family "liked" it.

Given his past history, my husband not surprisingly decided to join me in answering the bishops' call for fasting every Friday during this Year of Faith for the cause of marriage. Unfortunately, this caused a mild marital dilemma. I would prefer to eat my one meal in the middle of the day, neatly bisecting my hours of hunger. But my husband likes to eat his one meal at night. This difference in fasting preferences left me with a vexing choice. I could either wait until evening so we could dine together, or eat my meal earlier and then cook my husband a yummy vegetarian (or pescatarian) dinner and sit there and watch him savor it. I decided to wait to eat dinner together. Score one for marital unity through fasting.

Unfortunately, my first hunger pang started at around 7:15 a.m., a bit earlier than expected. Six pieces of dried apricot took care of that. In mid-morning, apple juice got me through. That fasting headache hit again around lunchtime. One hard-boiled egg to the rescue. Plus, coffee, of course. Only five or six hours to go until dinner.

My kids didn't notice that I was barely eating, even though they had a full breakfast, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, and early dinner before I sat down to eat my first full meal. My kids' attitude reminded me of the rich man in the Bible who "feasted sumptuously every day," while ignoring the beggar who lay at his door. (Lk 16:19-21). Of course, kids don't notice much. But sometimes adults don't notice much either.

In 2011, the U.S. bishops recommended that families fast on the First Friday of every month by eating only as much as one day's worth of food stamps would buy. They hoped that this fast would help people to "walk in solidarity with all those for whom access to adequate, nutritious food is difficult." More broadly, "voluntary fasting from food creates in us a greater openness to God's spirit and deepens our compassion for those who are forced to go without food. ...Fasting should bring to mind the sufferings of all those for whom Christ suffered." (USCCB, Penitential Practices for Today's Catholics, 2000).

Despite my honest desire to suffer in solidarity with the less fortunate, the smell of the seafood-stuffed tilapia that had already been baking in the oven for an hour was rendering me semi-delusional.  When my husband finally came home at 7 p.m., I was already waiting at the table, fork in hand.  After we said grace together, I ate like someone trying to win the famous international hot dog-eating contest, held annually in Coney Island.  Not very elegant.  Goal for next week: more self-control!

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  1. The trick to food stamps is buying in bulk and prep time. (Luxuries that many on food stamps don't have.) Check these folks out: