Tales of a Failed Triduum Fast
For some reason, fasting is like Fight Club for Christians. The first rule of fasting is, you don’t talk about fasting. The second rule of fasting is, you don’t talk about fasting. I understand where this comes from. When Jesus talks about fasting in the sermon on the mount, he says:
And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Ok, fine. It seems that Jesus point here is that we sould not be fasting for the approval and praise of man. He doesn’t seem to indicate that we should never know when someone else is fasting. We can still talk about fasting. After all, just a few verses before, Jesus tells us to go into the closet of our room to pray. Does this make our prayer meetings sinful? What about the prayer meeting in Acts 12?
Ok, I digress. I am going to brake the seemingly cardinal and qualitatively unbiblical rule that you shouldn’t talk about fasting. I attempted the Triduum fast this year. The Triduum fast goes from communion on Maundy Thursday to after church on Easter. All said and done it is about a 60 hour stretch with only water to drink and nothing to eat.
I made it about 24. After a semi-busy day on Friday, taking care of the boys and running errands, I was out of gas. I broke the fast and ate some dinner. I (weakly) decided to call the whole thing off at this point. [Hindsight, being what it is, I am glad I did. I received a call late on Saturday evening. Our Pastor was sick and I was needed to preach on Sunday morning. I am glad I had a full stomach to work off of.] All that being said, I thought I would write out some things I learned from day I fasted.
- Fasting is hard, but having something to focus on helps. From Thursday evening until later Friday afternoon, anytime I got a hunger pang, I thought about where Christ would have been at that moment years ago. This was in and of itself a pretty profound experience. I was amazed as I contemplated how long Jesus was at each “station” of the Cross. I was especially moved as my hunger grew and I kept looking at the clock; Jesus would have been on the cross for a long time. The fast put the weekend, and especially good Friday into a perspective I had never had before. After the time when Christ was taken down off the cross and burried, I had a much harder time finding something to focus on. Not coincedentally, this is when I broke my fast.
- I am really not hungry for God the way I should be. Peter Leithart pointed out in a post about Lent, that our hunger during Lent points to our lack of hunger for Christ. I get it. By about hour 20 all I could think about was food. I can’t think of a time in my life where I was that focused on Christ and the Gospel.
- Turning hunger into prayer gave me a chance to really pray about some things. I really need to make fasting a more regular part of my spiritual disciplines. I have often done a solids fast, where I would only have things I could drink through a straw. This is nothing like a water only fast, and I need to do this sort of fasting more often. Do you have any sort of rhythm to your fasting? It’s ok to talk about fasting, remember?
- Having Holy week fall on Opening Week of baseball was definitely a struggle. Being reasonably thoughtful and somber regarding Good Friday when the Rays are hitting walk-offs is difficult. Probably some idolatry in there…
- This last thought comes from the “I-Don’t-Believe-in Coincidences-but-I-am-not-sure-how-these-things-are-related” department. As I mentioned earlier, I got a call at 8:30 Saturday night that I would be preaching on Easter. I haven’t preached on Easter in 5 years. I have no “go-to” Easter text. And yet, my text and sermon came together in a way I can only describe as divine. I read a text I had never thought hard about and the sermon almost felt like it was writing itself. Even as I read that last sentence, I am skeptical of myself. And yet, I don’t have any other words to describe it. The fact that this happened the day after my fast seems strange, and I am not completely sure they are related. But at the same time I am not sure they aren’t either.