Here we are, at the half-way point of the Great Fast. If you’ve been trying to fast, I’m sure at least once you realized how difficult it can be to maintain the fast when you are not at home cooking for yourself. Unless you research menus in advance, eating outside of your own home can be impossible. Many don’t’ even try, claiming exemption under the “I’m traveling” excuse. I’m sure you’ve heard about it. The ancient Church allowed those who were sick or traveling to be exempted from fasting. Thankfully in our modern world, we don’t really have to worry about exemptions. You don’t normally hear me speak in a positive light of our contemporary days when it comes to Church life, but when it comes to fasting, even I can change my tune.
You read that correctly. I’m actually speaking positively about the contemporary world. When it comes to fasting, with all the attention to healthy food options, and an ever increasing diversity of global diets coexisting in our American cities, we can still fast even when we are traveling….that is, if we want to fast.
In the ancient world, it was almost impossible to travel with the necessary supplies to maintain the fast. That, combined with the extreme physical exertion needed for travel, explains why the ancient Church allowed the exemption, always keeping in mind that fasting was never supposed to jeopardize our physical safety and health. Travel in our contemporary world no longer requires even a fraction of physical exertion, and supplies can be purchased at any number of twenty-four-hour stores. If we are still claiming the “travel exemption” it can only mean that we aren’t really wanting to fast.
I have the pleasure of traveling this weekend to Atlanta, GA for a few meetings, and was able to maintain the fast without any difficulties except temptation. Don’t get me wrong, I was tempted to claim the travel exemption, but thankfully around every corner was some sort of market or restaurant that provided a menu compatible with fasting.
Not all is lost in our contemporary world when it comes to our Great Lenten Journey, like every other era of Church history, it all boils down to desire. If we want to make the most of our Great Lenten Journey, we can and will. It only requires our willingness to seek out the proper market, study a menu. If you still find yourself in a place with nothing is available, I encourage not the through away the baby with the bath water. If you must break the fast, keep as much of the fast as you can. There is always tomorrow.