What comes from fasting is a much needed detachment from things, and ordering of our passions, and ultimately an avenue that welcomes a much necessary closeness to God.
It is not easy, nor should it be. It is a radical way of attuning ourselves to living more presently in the presence of our Lord and purifying ourselves. It liberates us from the temporal things, albeit not without much enduring.
Most Catholics are perhaps more traditionally familiar with fasting from meat on Fridays, many still do practice this within their homes. But often fish Fridays can take on an even more gluttonous reality than a fast would suggest. For example, being Italian-Canadian extremely rich and battered calamari fritti is surely a beloved favorite of a Friday fish menu, but is perhaps even more lavish in indulgence than my breaded chicken. Therefore the heart of my fast is not pure in it's intention nor sacrificial. I'm sure it would be an interesting thing to dialogue about.
When we talk about fasting we are talking about a sacrifice, and not something that is easy or enjoyable for us. It should shed us, and prune us, and unearth some of the vices that we battle with. It can be a tremendous and necessary helper as we strive to live a life of virtue. As our western world progressively climbs toward more consumption, more indulgence, and more self gratification, a fitting and crucial response by the faithful at the face of all of this is much needed temperance and self denial.
I am not trying to foster a population of "sour faced saints" of sorts, but to help cultivate the recovering of encountering true joy and true peace belonging to a heart completely abandoned to God. To be mindful of sacrifice is an authentic aspect of following Christ. To be present enough to encounter His presence, even in the face of others, means that we must be willing to unplug ourselves quite literally from time to time.
In our world today there is a lot of talk about the prominence of social media and technology and a complete loss of strong/healthy human interactions and attentiveness to people. Last night on Twitter I was reading a thread regarding this very concept and it invited further reflection. I also had the privilege of chatting with Arleen Spenceley for my humble podcast some time ago and she brilliantly shared even more on this subject (which will be posted in the near future).
We are consumed by screens locked in everywhere we go. How much we boast about free wifi in some locations at coffee shops and such, only to see people out for coffee, which is arguably a lovely pastime, now sitting across from one another tweeting, chatting, and youtubing away with everyone but the person before them. We are seemingly more connected, but truly people are starving for more genuine connections and authentic friendships.
While our social media can be implored for some good, no doubt. It is a refreshing idea to think of implementing a fast from phones. To limit use within the day and do so drastically. Perhaps even choosing one day completely to shut down. Detachment should not belong solely to time away in retreat, or the feeling that you need to have an excuse of sorts to not answer your phone. Simply select time and be obedient to it to be unplugged.
I remember well my first ever retreat I shut my phone down as soon as I had text home about my safe arrival and off I went phone free. I can't begin tell you how many times I looked for my phone almost shamefully on numerous occasions desiring to check it and did not. I had to work up to a sense of peace with the idea that it was not there. It was extremely liberating, but also more concerning to me was my dependency upon this device.
Eventually, and not too long into retreat that instinct faded and I was absorbed in the most important. Yes, the environment was obviously more favorable in some ways of having this occur, but here I am amidst the daily grind of things and I can recognize that there is a dependency still lingering for sure; a habitual reliance upon a device that I think can be purified, and even must be purified if I am to be present to the most important within my day.
I can not boast of having a TV in our home and this is a wonderful thing. That itself seems to be a heroic endeavor in today's world, so I have absolutely no idea what is hip or happening in TV land, and I couldn't care less to be quite frank, but more than this I have come to see that though the absence of TV is profound, my phone can very well make up for lost time, time that many lose in front of the tube.
And so, I am challenging myself, and even maybe some of you out there to fast from phones as you would fast by eating fish. It can be as structured or unstructured as you would like. You may choose to simply shut down completely for a day, a morning/ afternoon whatever, or to limit your use of what you use your phone for.
I am officially launching the phone fast challenge and to be attentive to how this deepens your self awareness, and also your relationship with God.
I am not expecting there to be magnificent Moses mountain top type of elaborate enlightening, but there will be growth, there will be clarity. I am joining in this too.My phone is off, and has been for the entire morning. (CC)