The title of this post is the title of the 4th chapter of St. Benedict’s Rule. As the title suggests, St. Benedict lays out what is necessary to get ourselves ready to do good works. Among other things he says, “Renounce yourself in order to follow Christ; discipline your body; do not pamper yourself, but love fasting.”
That alone, is a message for the world today, and for the Church in particular. Most people today seem to feel entitled to a good pampering if they have had a rough week. That is to be expected from the world, but so many Christians think that way too. I fall into that trap myself at times (that’s part of why I am re-reading the Rule). “Oh I worked overtime this week. I really deserve a nice long weekend at a bed and breakfast.” It’s really just expected these days. Look at what a (seemingly) booming industry the massage business is. I see new parlors open up all the time. Heaven forbid a week goes by without an hour long massage. Or how often do we pick up a big slab of cake and say, “why not, I earned it.”
Notice that St. Benedict does not just encourage us to fast. He says we should love to fast. Why? Because we can offer our fasts up to the Lord, and join ourselves to him more fully. Our fasts give us discipline so that we are better able to resist temptation to sin.
There is one week of Advent left. Let’s put the Christmas cookies down, and take St. Benedict’s words to heart.
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