Fasting, besides its undying value, for aiding the soul of the priest to be Christ-centred, stimulating the mental alertness brought about when the soul’s sluggishness brought about by sensuality and enslavement to the body is overcome, also has a very important relevance for the beginning of the Third Millennium.
The Ignatian priest is called to form creative Catholic minorities in a society now under the “Dictatorship of Relativism”. This is the natural outcome of a centuries old movement with roots in the ideology of the French Revolution of 1789 and most recently in that cultural revolution we call the “revolution of ‘68’”.
1968, unlike the socio-political upheaval of 1789, aimed at a cultural revolution within man himself, in the very depths of his soul. It utterly rejected the remnants of the Christian civilization still lingering in Europe, the Americas, and wherever else it had been implanted. These remnants were above all the sense of absolute moral values (the Natural Law), the nature of marriage, the role of the family as the primordial institution in society, the importance of parental authority.
Since man is not merely a “brain” but a psychosomatic reality of soul united inextricably in this earthly life to a body, any cultural revolution has an engine driven by the psychic forces not only of ideas but of passions, instincts either under the dominion of God’s laws or hostile to them. As the philosophers and “engineers” behind the mass-movement of ’68 clearly asserted, their engine involved unrestrained letting loose of man’s instincts through lust for whatever gave pleasure through the senses – food, drink, pornography, sexual licence. ’68 proclaimed that the senses should have whatever they wanted – the only restraining factor would be the minimal conditions to enable one from impeding other individuals from obtaining their sensual pleasures.
The triumph of the ’68 Revolution is evident. Sex is no longer integral to the “packet-deal” established by the Creator: sex-marriage of man and woman-children-family. Instead, the contraceptive mentality of sex as primarily pleasure now reigns with abortion as a backup to impede unwanted effects. “Marriage” is whatever you name it. Children are merely other individuals not subject to parental authority beyond mere legal requirements. “Family” is just another socially-constructed institution to be altered at the whim of the state.
There is need for a counter-revolution. But a counter-revolution that does not, like any revolution, merely create another novel upheaval, but one that restores what is natural. Quote or paraphrase De Maistre. This counter-revolution, since it is a restoration of the natural order inside the heart and mind of man must restore the harmonious order of his faculties, empowering his intelligence guided by the divinely revealed truths of the Catholic Faith and the Natural Law to reign supremely, guiding his will, and channeling his passions and instincts.
Within this order, fasting is key. It will vary in shape and degree depending on one’s age, health, state of life, vocation, climate, and other circumstances. But its role is strategic. It is a liberator of the soul from inhuman enslavement by the body. It alerts, frees. It enables man to pray as he should, as a soul that is God-centered and Heaven-centered, not egocentric and earth-centered.