I’ll admit it, I’m not always the best Catholic (who is?). When Ash Wednesday and Good Friday come around I eat less but I don’t usually go for the out-and-out fast. Sure, I could tell you that my metabolism is freakishly fast and that if I don’t eat I get a migraine that doesn’t go away for days and that migraine inhibits my ability to eat and then I lose weight that I didn’t have to lose. But here’s the reality: when you make an act of faith, God comes through.
In the book of Daniel, the prophet tells of how he and his companions did not want to defile themselves by eating the king’s food. Instead, they opted to eat only vegetables and to see who looked healthier: those who ate only veggies or those who feasted at the king’s table. Daniel and his friends made an act of faith, believing that it was better to eat only vegetables rather than defile themselves with the king’s food. Guess who looked healthier at the end of ten days? Daniel and his friends. Rather than get into the specifics of a healthy diet (which is really not my area of expertise anyway), the point here is that Daniel and his friends trusted the Lord and came out victorious.
One Monday, a few months ago, as a penance I decided to eat only bread and water. I went to Mass that morning and the story of Daniel and his friends was the reading for the day. The priest gave a homily about how awful he is at fasting but perhaps this story illustrates that when we take a leap of faith, God blesses us in more ways than we can imagine. He told us, “You know that thing that you think you can never do? Do it today.” So I only ate bread and water. By the end of the day bread, even wheat bread, which I’m not usually a fan of, was sweeter than it had ever been before. By foregoing my usual eating habits and surrendering the hunger to God, I was able to see that even things I don’t like can become sweet. By the end of the day I longed for plain bread, not just because it was all I could eat, but because by cleansing my palette, I was able to taste the sweetness of that which I had been missing.
At the end of the day I didn’t have a migraine, but in its place I had learned a valuable lesson: it is in simplifying things that we can experience the richness of life that so often goes by unnoticed. The next morning the Eucharist tasted sweeter and more fulfilling than it ever had. Isn’t that how it should be?