Lenten Reflections: Part III – Mary Jane Vigil, OSB continues….
We constantly use phrases like “I’m starving”, or “I could eat a horse” but when we really examine our state of life we are surrounded by food. There is a disadvantage to never really being hungry. It can make us immune and insensitive. It makes us satisfied and contented. Knowing the empty feeling of hunger is rare in our everyday existence. When there is no food and no way to get it, then we can feel our dependency on God and others. Life kicks into a different gear for those who are hungry, those who live on the hard edge of survival. The traditional Lenten observance of fasting or abstaining from particular food or drink is a ritualized way of displacing our self-satisfaction, and reveals our poverty and dependence on God and others. It puts us in solidarity with others who find themselves in a similar situation, though not by choice. Historically people’s lives were dictated by the climate and the end of winter meant a scarcity of provisions. Preserved food stores got depleted. Meat that was frozen or salted, was in danger of spoiling when the occasional warm days came, so rather than eating periodically people had one big festival and ate all the rest of the meat. That’s where the word “carnival” comes from. Originally applied to the end of the winter holiday, it literally means “goodbye to the meat.” Thus the practice of abstaining from meat during Lent.
Have you ever been truly hungry?