On Wimpy Catholicism and a Return to Manly Fasting



The following is a talk I recently gave at a Catholic men's group:

Let’s begin by examining the secular “wokeness” on fasting. Gone are the days of weight loss programs like Weight Watchers… where you simply eat less each meal! Sounds simple, right? Fewer calories means you lose weight. The problem is that it never worked that well. The reduced number of calories per meal also reduced one’s energy as well, dipped into muscle storage, and offered frugal results.

Science now shows that full out fasting is the perfect method for proper health. The secular world’s latest trend is intermittent fasting. One builds up how long a person can go in between meals. The ideal is to eat one meal a day. The meal could consist of almost your regular day’s intake (say 75%). What happens is that your body, when full out fasting, actually dips into fat storage for energy. You maintain your energy, lose weight, and it’s perfectly healthy, if not natural. Science shows that intermittent fasting done twice per week is ideal.

Long story short, intermittent fasting is a great success story in the secular world, and has science to back it up… And it makes us Catholics look pathetic.

How much more, not just for physical but especially spiritual reasons, should Catholics be fasting! And I will especially focus on Catholic men here.

The truth is that Catholicism is running headlong in the opposite direction when it comes to fasting.

Formerly, say in the 1200s, Lent involved no meat, dairy, or eggs. A person would fast completely until 3pm every day as well, with only water allowed. Later on the Lenten requirements were lessened (particularly in the 1890s for men who worked in a mine all day), but they still have some vigour. The idea was that Lent was a spiritual tithe. You gave up one tenth of your year to such a bodily sacrifice. Even on non-Lenten seasons, the traditional Catholic practice was to fast (no food) on Wednesdays and Fridays, and then of course to feast on Sundays. Why Wednesdays and Fridays? Jesus was betrayed, and died on those days.

What do we have since the 1960s, particularly post-Vatican II?

We “fast” 2x per year, only, on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. This “fast” is one meal plus two snacks which do not equal one full meal. So you could have a piece of toast on Good Friday for breakfast. Maybe a couple of eggs at lunch. And then for supper we can have a full plate of haddock and heaping load of fries… this “fast” would’ve been the equivalent to a feast in olden times.

As for abstaining from meat… this technically is no longer a requirement. We can “do an act of charity” now instead. This should be a no-brainer. We MUST remember the day Christ died for our sins. This wimpy Catholicism specifically attacks men. Men need discipline, and they need a challenge. What are the results of a weak approach to the faith?

Well, men no longer pray and fast. They are not the spiritual leaders in their house. And they have fled from going to Mass. Though in fairness to men, the Mass is utterly feminized - such as with those insipid, sappy hymns like, “Make me a channel of your peace…” or as we used to sing growing up, “make me a channel of your TV…” Could we sing stop singing about ourselves and sing about God just for once? And without John Denver folk tunes? Or can we finally shed the pathetic, ugly felt banners, chattiness, altar grandmas, and busybodies running all around the sanctuary? Admit it: this does nothing for men except chase them away.

And what happens when men are not actively living, and suffering for, their faith?

The percentage of men addicted to pornography is staggering. 73% of men regularly view porn. 98% have viewed it in the past 6 months. One porn website (just one) boasts of over 1000 hits per second. And there is no difference between Catholics and the secular world with these stats. Violent video games and movies are rampant among men as well. I heard one psychologist who said he works with some men who wear diapers so that they can play video games through the night and not have to stop to go to the bathroom. Contraception, which is a mortal sin, is practiced by over 90% of Catholics. And families are falling apart. I’ll tell you, as a teacher, I see the effects of this first hand. What is a divorce? As one Catholic commentator says, “divorce is when the parents remove their cross and place it on the shoulders of the family. Satan has attacked the men, and the family fell with them. Don’t believe me? When a mother attends Mass but not the father, there is only a 2% chance that his kids will when they grow older.

What do we do? As a start, let’s return to my initial point on fasting. Jesus requires prayer and fasting. The Gospel does not say that Jesus went up a mountain for forty days to “pray and give up dark chocolate…” No! He fasted, completely.

We fast and pray to be crucified with Christ, and be strengthened for the spiritual fight. We fight off evil inclinations, and the promptings of the devil. We atone for our sins, and we lead our families to Christ.

Let’s look at this atonement more closely.

St. Paul curiously says that “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Col 1:24).

Christ doesn’t need our sacrifice. He is infinite, and His sacrifice on the cross perfectly atoned for our sins. But He allows us to participate in His atoning work for our own good.

We’ll use the age old example: If my son Joseph smashes a window, clearly he can’t afford to repay the cost. While he can say he’s sorry, I’m the one who will have to pay the $1500. But perhaps he pays what he can, say $10. Further, maybe he even helps out around the house a bit, voluntarily. What he does, then, is to offer satisfaction for what he’s done.

Satisfaction. By satisfaction I mean prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. From the Roman Catechism:

1)      Satisfaction atones to the Church – Meaning it shows our sorrow for our sins, and helps build up the Mystical Body of Christ. A stubbed toe affects the entire body. So too with the Church. One sin affects all.

2)     Satisfaction deters us (and others) from sin – Regulating our lives with penance and prayer corrects our bad habits and vices.

3)     Satisfaction makes us like unto Christ – If we die with Christ, so too shall we live with Him (2Tim2:11,12).

4)     Satisfactions heals the wound of sin

5)     Satisfaction disarms Divine vengeance

6)     Finally, one can satisfy for another – We can pray and fast for others. This is the Mystical Body of Christ. In a special way, the father of a home has a special role in praying and fasting for his family. The exorcist Fr. Ripperger urges all men to take on this crucial responsibility.

Fasting is a means of satisfaction. And so I would like to end by proposing a real return to the Catholic tradition of fasting. Science tells us that fasting twice a week, while having a weekly feast (Sunday) is what’s best for our bodies. The Catholic faith tells us that fasting as such is what’s best for our souls, our families, and the entire Body of Christ.

Let us rediscover fasting. Starting with Fridays and then grow to Wednesdays as well. It could be fasting from media, or other attachments of life. But it should also include, must include, fasting. Skipping a meal, or two, if possible. It will be difficult. It will be worth it.

Rediscovering fasting is a necessary step for becoming true men of Christ, and true leaders of our families.

Comments

  1. PART ONE:
    1 John 2:15&16 read: "Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him. FOR ALL THAT IS IN THE WORLD, IS THE CONCUPISCENCE OF THE FLESH, AND THE CONCUPISCENCE OF THE EYES, (See St. Matthew 5:28: "... But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.") and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world."

    St. Paul tells us in Galatians 5:16: "... Walk in the spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh." (V17) "For the flesh lusteth against the spirit: and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary one to another: so that you do not the things that you would." (V19) "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, ..."

    Our Lady of Fatima told St. Jacinta "more souls go to Hell for sins of the flesh than for any other reason".

    In your article, you say you spoke with men and admonished them to "manly fasting". You also speak of Fr. Ripperger and point out that he is an Exorcist. The common denominator in the above is LUST. Asmodeus, Prince of demons/demon of lust; the antagonist of the Book of Tobias who killed Sara's first seven husbands, is the reason why Fr. Ripperger, being an Exorcist (as I am), is important to my point.

    If you will talk about manly fasting, the above quotes from scripture and Fatima have a direct bearing. And since the class of sin is sexual sin or sins of the flesh, most mentioned in the Bible and about which a whole book of theology is written (Moral Theology), from a spiritual standpoint would be a bigger bang for the buck when talking about manly fasting. The majority of sins spoken of in the sixth commandment are mortal. The Book of Leviticus prescribed a "mortal punishment" of stoning for the most egregious of these sins.

    St. Augustine teaches, like Tobias 8:8: "Thou madest Adam of the slime of the earth, and gavest him Eve for a helper"(not a sex toy or someone to gratify his lust). (V9) "And now, Lord, Thou knowest, that not for FLESHLY LUST do I take my sister (distant cousin) to wife, but only for the love of posterity, IN WHICH THY NAME MAY BE BLESSED FOR EVER AND EVER."

    St. Augustine, in keeping with Tobias, says that the fleshly excitement that is necessary for the process of insemination so that a child can be born is a sin, but only venial. He also teaches that the conjugal act not done for the purpose of conceiving a child is a mortal sin and invites Asmodeus as a participant. This includes any activities prior to the conjugal act or subsequent to it without the expressed desire that it conclude with an act meant to conceive a child is mortal sin.


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    1. You cite one of the (very few) instances where St. Augustine erred. As the Catechism (quoting Pius XII) says, "The Creator himself . . . established that in the [generative] function, spouses should experience pleasure and enjoyment of body and spirit. Therefore, the spouses do nothing evil in seeking this pleasure and enjoyment. They accept what the Creator has intended for them. At the same time, spouses should know how to keep themselves within the limits of just moderation" (CCC 2362).

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    2. I referenced that quoted section in the CCC and saw no reference to Pope Pius XII and I am not at all surprised. Until Francis I came to the Papacy, no Pope dared change Scripture, Holy Writ. Secondly, Tobias chapter 6 verses 16~22 give detail on that generative process and what is "limits of just moderation". Tobias 8:3~10 give us the rest of the story.

      The Archangel Raphael gave them those limits as much by what he didn't say, as by what he did say.

      Contrary to what many people try to hold God to, it is not true that if God doesn't specifically forbid it, it's okay.

      Tobias' statement in chapter 8 verse 9: "And now, Lord, Thou knowest that not for fleshly lust for I take my sister to wife, but only for the love of posterity in which Thy name may be blessed for ever and ever."

      If you, Mr. Millette, were in the position, let's say of Lot's daughters, and the only chance that you had to keep the human race going was to have a baby with your sister, how would you behave with her, especially if you had an Archangel looking over you and giving you detail of what is acceptable and what is not? Keep in mind, that the Archangel Raphael had to bind the demon Amadeus (the demon of lust) in the desert of upper Egypt (8:3) so that you could generate with your sister and live.

      Is not any baptized woman your sister in Christ?

      Your part in the process is to plant the seed that God gave you in your body. Her part in the process is to allow her body to accept that seed. That is all that is required in your part of the process. By the function of the male and female body, some lubrication is necessary. The mechanism by which that happens causes pleasure to cause it to happen. Not so that you can enjoy your wife's body or your wife's yours. But only to facilitate the generative process. Watch a cow and a bull sometime and you will see what I mean. Cows and bulls act only on instinct. There is no thought process involved and they get the job done and it only occurs... she will only let it occur to her ... when she has ovulated and when she can conceive. There is no foreplay or after-play.

      ST. AUGUSTINE DID NOT ERR. AND ST. AUGUSTINE HAD EXPERIENCED THAT PROCESS. PIUS XII DID NOT.

      Since you are presuming that he is the one that said that and you're not giving any detail, if we knew the real story, we would probably see that he said: "See Tobias."

      The Protestants call Tobias Apocryphal and have deleted it from their Canon of their Bible. In so doing, they're in denial of St. Raphael and therefore have absolved themselves from any limitation of the pleasure they can get from that generative act. If the truth were known, that is the very crux of their protest against the Catholic Church. One of the results of which was a Priest with a vow of celibacy married a nun with a vow of celibacy and no holds barred.
      Is that what you want?

      Did not God tell us right from the beginning and show us in St. Luke 1:27~35, and again in Isaias 66:8&9, does He not repeat that it's His prerogative to generate His children in the children of men?
      (V9) "Shall not I that make others to bring forth children, Myself bring forth, saith the Lord? SHALL I, THAT GIVE GENERATION TO OTHERS, BE BARREN, SAYS THE LORD THY GOD?"





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    3. The quote from Pius XII is very clear. Again, found at CCC 2362: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P86.HTM
      For what it's worth, the Catechism also draws from Tobias in CCC 2361.

      I would add that you please check out St. Thomas Aquinas on the matter, Summa Theologiae, II-II, Q. 153, Art. 2 - http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3153.htm#article2

      And further, from the Catechism of the Council of Trent, on the section titled "The Three Blessings of Marriage" - http://www.catholicapologetics.info/thechurch/catechism/Holy7Sacraments-Matrimony.shtml

      The Church is clear on the matter.

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    4. If I may interject my prayerful and studied observation in this discussion, please, I am seeing the great gulf between the forgotten (deliberately) constant and ancient teachings of the Church versus the Nouveau "Trad" Church, or the reformed reformed Church: take it away, make up something that resembles it and call it the same and bring it back as though it was the true offspring and not a usurper.

      The Book of Tobias in it's entirety is a perfect example of the Christian/Catholic life God would have for us. In chapters 6&8, specifically, we find the timeless template for the married/conjugal life under the protective guide of God's representative, St. Raphael.

      To simply reference Tobias to support a husband and wife enjoying each other's bodies is a grave abuse of the Scripture, God's word, indeed. In fact one contradicts the other.

      To whit, I am a spouse of Christ in my vocation. The Book of Tobias, especially chapters 6&8 are written in such a fashion as to cover my espousal to Christ ... a non- sexual relationship, in fact a celibate relationship ... applied to me in such a way that I can read and practice then without arousing prurient interest. The quote from the Catechism of the Council of Trent that johnjohnii presents even refers to a three day fast from the conjugal act before receiving communion. Not a problem for me for I am the lover and He, Jesus, is my Beloved (St. John of the Cross). I can receive Him any day of the week!

      The demon referred to throughout Tobias, in my studies come to understand, is the demon Asmodeus who in "Judeo/Islamic lore is the king of earthly spirits and specifically in the Book of Tobias is the demon of lust" (Wikipedia). This is the demon that killed seven of Sarah's suitors before they could consummate the marriage. And the same demon that the Archangel Raphael had to "bind in the desert of upper Egypt" so that Tobias and Sarah could consummate their marriage without Tobias being killed.

      Surely we must recognize this from the teachings of the Commandments, the 6th one specifically, as a mortal sin that kills the life of Grace in the sinner. (Another reason Pope John Paul II said that a man could commit adultery with his wife in his heart.)

      These facts from the Book of Tobias are no doubt the scriptural underpinnings for St. Augustine's teachings on this subject. In chapter 8:9, Tobias boldly states: "And now, Lord, Thou knowest, that not for fleshly lust do I take my sister to wife, but only for the love of posterity." Thus, for the right reason, the worst that would befall either spouse would be a venial sin which is gone with the act of contrition and perhaps even with such a proclamation ahead of time similar to the Sacrament of the Eucharist where the Priest must have the perfect intention to transubstantiate for their to be a valid consecration.

      Further in 8:5 Tobias says to Sarah: "For we are the children of saints, and we must not be joined together like heathens that know not God..." the same as anyone going to Communion with mortal sin on their soul according to St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:27: "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgement to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord." After all as in St. Matthew 25:40: "Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these My least brethren, YOU DID IT TO ME "

      Does that tell you what mindset you should have to approach the conjugal act with, so as to be pleasing to God? Also the eyes that you should look through in reading the scriptures .... from God's perspective?

      This teaching points directly to the original sin and to the fact that we are still all under its dark cloud.

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    5. In fact, in Tobias 6:16&17 the Archangel Raphael tells us all about the Church's pre-Vatican II teaching on birth control in telling him: "..over whom the devil can prevail. For they who in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust (Asmodeus), as the horse and mule (a man-made conception), which hath not understanding, OVER THEM THE DEVIL HATH POWER." A scary thought!

      Armed with these facts, I see absolutely no way that any human being, no matter how holy they should be, contradicting this scripture. Certainly if done to please man, one must be concerned about that person's soul and where they will spend eternity.

      I can only imagine what you say being in strict compliance that is only for the purpose of child bearing, strict compliance with Tobias and the word of God, and St. Augustine in his interpretation which also requires a perfect intention that the act be fruitful and give the couple a child. The pleasure would be that they are in complete union with the will of God.

      Mr. Millette, is there any way that NFP CAN FULFILL THIS TEACHING FROM GOD AND HIS SCRIPTURES AND HIS SAINTS?

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    6. Thanks for your comments. But to be clear, I never once mentioned NFP, nor surmised about married couples who engage in relations sinfully (which obviously is possible, think object, end, circumstances). I only state, along with Aquinas, the Council of Trent, Pius XII, and even the new catechism, that the marital act is not always sinful. I would ask that you engage these authoritative texts.

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    7. Lesson from Jeremias the Prophet. "Thus saith the Lord God: Cursed be the man that trusteth in man and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like tamaric in the desert, and he shall not see when good shall come: But he shall dwell in dryness desert, in a salt land, and not inhabited...." (Jeremias 17:5&6 from the Epistle of today's Mass; Thursday of the Second Week of Lent)

      "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord." (Josue 24:15)

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  2. PART TWO:
    With this and all the above, it's relatively easy to understand how Pope John Paul II could say with all confidence, and in keeping with the Church and its constant teachings, that a man can commit adultery with his own wife.

    It also explains why The Catechism of the Council of Trent in its section on the Sacrament of Matrimony, teaches thus:
    "That marriage is not to be sought from motives of sensuality, but that its use is to be restrained within those limits ... that are fixed by God. They should be mindful of the exhortation of the Apostle: 'They that have wives let them be as though they had them not.'" And further states: "What greater turpitude than that a husband should love his wife, as the seducer loves the adulteress. But as every blessing is to be obtained from God by holy prayer, the faithful are also to be taught sometimes to abstain from the marriage debt, in order to devote themselves to prayer (1 Corinthians 7:5). This religion continence, according to the proper and pious injunction of our predecessors in the faith, is particularly to be observed FOR AT LEAST THREE DAYS PREVIOUS TO COMMUNION, AND FOR A LONGER TIME DURING THE SOLEMN AND PENITENTIAL SEASON OF LENT."

    This obviously is a subject that is not fit for children to hear, but as in the Old Testament where the Temple had both a men's court and a women's court, with the men being closest as "the head of the woman", the man was to go home and teach his wife. Then this delicate subject could govern the couple in private.

    The above is no doubt what St. Paul was talking about in 1 Timothy 2:13~15: "For Adam was first formed; then Eve. (V14) And Adam was not seduced; but the woman being seduced, was in the transgression."
    (Genesis 3:11,12,13: "And He said to him (Adam): And who has told thee that thou wast naked, but that thou hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat? (V12) And Adam said: The woman whom Thou gavest me to be my companion, gave me of the tree, and I did eat. (V13) And the Lord God said to the woman: Why hast thou done this? And she answered: The serpent (Asmodeus?) deceived me, and I did eat.")

    1 Timothy 2:15: "Yet she shall be saved through child bearing; if she continue IN FAITH and LOVE and SANCTIFICATION with SOBRIETY."

    Since "more souls go to Hell for sins of the flesh than for any other reason", manly fasting would serve man and God much better unto salvation even, if it were from anything associated with the conjugal act. Especially in conjunction with receiving Christ in Holy Communion, and not in sacrilege.

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