Why I didn’t fast or abstain this Good Friday

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Having been raise Roman Catholic and still considering myself very much a practicing one, the Easter Triduum sits at the core of my religious upbringing. My parents were not very strict about fasting the entire Lent, but they were strict about abstinence on Fridays, no television or radio from Maundy Thursday until Easter Sunday. As soon as I turned 12, I fasted for the entire Easter Triduum alongside my parents, and they also encouraged me to do little sacrifices during Lent – e.g. no chocolate or sweets, no swearing, no parties, etc. (giving up chocolates , sweets and parties were the easier ones, no swearing was always a challenge… ). There was even a time when I would fast for the entire Holy Week, getting grumpier by the day, until my mother reminded me that instead of fasting I would be better off doing corporal works of mercy. Lightbulb moment!

The more I got got involved in inter-faith dialogue and got more involved in intermittent fasting on a regular basis throughout the year, and certainly doing corporal works of mercy alongside it, I began to question the relevance of fasting just for Holy Week or Lent. It is pretty much up there with my reluctance to donate to charity on Christmas, when there are 364 other days to do so. Believe me when I tell you that the charitable institutions would much prefer donations spread throughout the year with matching active involvement and not just lump sums during Christmas for tax rebates!

This year I feel that Lent the sacrifices that ordinarily accompany the period have been outdone by #lockdown2020. Asking entire nations to stay home quarantined for over two weeks, or for some, a month, with additional restrictions on top is a far greater sacrifice than any fasting and abstinence that any church or religious institution can ever ask of a person.

I had absolutely no qualms this morning about frying sausages for brunch, as I began my third week of social distancing, and my daughter her fifth. When the choice is taken from you to remain home or not, to refrain from visiting friends or loved ones, to come and go as you please from shops, or even have a picnic in the park, then I would say we, as a collective whole, have sacrificed so much more than just meat and meals for life and the redemption of our souls.

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