Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lent 2013, XXVI

XXVI. Mother Teresa did not allow her nuns to fast. In many religious communities, fasting is a normal part of the spiritual development of the individual, and monks and nuns, and even lay persons have a long tradition of voluntary fasting in reparation for sins. Mother Teresa, however, categorically forbade any voluntary fasting. So here you have one of the holiest women of the last century forbidding a practice that centuries of spiritual directors have regarded as essential for the pursuit of spiritual growth. Mother Teresa, however, was well aware of the pedigree of this discipline, and had practiced it herself during her pre-MC days. She forbade it not because it is bad, but because it was not what they were called to. The charism of the Missionaries of Charity is service to the poorest of the poor and to accomplish this they needed to be healthy and strong. The diet of the MC’s is plain to the utmost, but Mother Theresa insisted that whenever possible it be enough to sustain the sisters for a full day out in the street, and no nun was allowed to turn away her portion in the name of spiritual growth. They were meant to find spiritual growth in the exercise of their vocation, and nowhere else.


  1. I did not realize that the MC did not fast regarding food, but it makes perfect sense. Obedience is probably a greater sanctifier, as is living out one's vocation. Sometimes that is the most difficult thing to do!
    By the way, your last post brought up some interesting points about love of God, and how our love of others and ourselves is part of loving God. Great analogy about the hugs, it is so true that parents are honoured by the love between siblings. I never though of it in terms of "I hug my siblings/parents/friends, I am hugging God," but what a though... and it really makes you think twice about how you treat/respond to other people.

    Happy Feast of St. Joseph!
    God bless,

    P.S. If you don't mind me asking, who are Fr. Dwight Longenecker and Charles Williams? I found a bit online about them because I was curious, but I had never heard of them before.

  2. Wow, great point about the nuns. I'm convinced that choosing between objectively good things (that is, choosing one and revoking the other, i.e. choosing the good of being healthy and well-fed over the good of fasting) is the hardest thing to do, one that requires the most trust. It's so easy to listen to an inner voice say "but fasting is good, shouldn't you just suck it up and fast and then offer the additional difficulty it adds to your daily service up to God?" This is the principle difficulty of my life right now - choosing between good things. It's pretty deadly because it can paralyze you.