Friday, April 5, 2019

Pope Francis Tweets that Lent is about "Fasting from Sin"

Fasting from sin? Does that mean I can do two venials as long as they don’t equal a full mortal?

One wag added:

Unlike his nemesis Donald Trump, Francis does not make his own tweets. I believe he signs off on them but usually does not compose them.

But someone seems a bit confused about fasting.

I should point out that another Twitter user found something like the "fasting from sin" terminology in Catholic tradition:

At least one other Father referred to "true fasting" in a similar fashion. My own feeling, based on the examples I've seen, is that this sort of usage is more metaphorical or poetic than directly illustrative.

Steve Skojec and Trent Roman got into a friendly argument about what St. John Chrysostom meant or was saying. With respect to Trent Roman, I agree with Steve on this:
Francis is talking about fasting from sin. One cannot fast from a thing that is evil. The purpose of fasting is to deprive a legitimate good in order to bring the appetites under the control of the will and strengthen virtue. 
What Chrysostom is saying is that the POINT of fasting -- the honor of it; why it attains merit -- is not because food is bad, but because it helps us to stop sinning because by it, we gain self control.
Granted that doesn't seem to be quite how Chrysostom put it.

But Jorge Mario Bergoglio is no John Chrysostom.

One could make a few additional points. Of course we should always abstain from sin, not just during Lent. And, all things being equal, we should usually abstain from occasions of sin. A glutton might be advised to engage in a bit more "fasting," at least of a sort. And so on.

One of the reasons we fast for Lent is to honor and imitate Jesus' fast in the Judaean dessert. Jesus wasn't fasting from sin (which would have been a bit pointless for Him) but from food. And the angels ministered and attended Him in part because He was "hungry" not because He was suffering from sin deprivation.

So does "fasting from sin" by @Pontifex have any significance other than being yet another example of weird pop theology from the Vatican?

This Twitter user saw more sinister implications:

I agree.

But I would also make a different claim: Francis and, to be fair, much of the Church since Vatican II has often disparaged traditional Catholic practices - praying the Rosary or saying "rote" prayers in general, fasting and abstinence, confession, even the Sunday Mass obligation - as being mere hollow rituals - examples of only "going through the motions." The true Christian should be primarily concerned with just loving other people or whatever. Becoming fixated on following "rules" can often get in the way of that.

Thus they speak of giving up sin, not giving up food. At least they use the word "sin."

It's very Protestant but you can't have everything.

Another way of putting it is that externals are not that important. You have to really feel it, man.

I give up meat for Lent, and let me tell you: I really feel it, man.

I'd gladly trade two venials for a steak.


  1. I guess I understand it, but I am a person who doesn't pay much attention to food. But on Mardi Gras, I begin craving all manner of yummy things and crave them throughout Lent.
    Anyway, I'm with Steve and you on this one: those statements are meant to make us fast from food so that we will strengthen the will against sin. Very wise of God, I think. ;-)

  2. Being that Pope(?) Francis is an admirer of Luther perhaps his statement about giving up sin should be interpreted literally. Here is Luther going on about mercy and sin.

    "If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.

  3. I do want to chime in and say that @BenedictStockOp in the above IS abusing St. John Christendom, if the individual is trying to harmonize @Pontifex with the Church Fathers.

    Read #13 here

    The Saint is trying to make a point that simply refraining from food does nothing if one does not also stop their sins. He is not meaning to "fast" as in refrain now start again later as what one does when one fasts.