Catholic Fasting, a Dialogue

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The Roman Catholic Church requires all Catholics to abstain from meat every Friday, except in the United States, where the Bishops have agreed that it’s cool to eat a cow so long as you do something else to punish yourself, like giving up TV or saying the Rosary. I know this because I read this article on Wikipedia.

Not doing this, apparently, is a mortal sin, I.E. if you intentionally eat a burger on a Friday, watch a TV show, and go to bed without even glancing at your Rosary, and then you die in your sleep, then when you wake up, it’s going to be a Hell of a lot hotter.

But more importantly, another thing that caught my eye from that article was the description of the Catholic fast. When I think of fasting, I think of Ghandi, slowly wasting away, nourishing himself with nothing but small sips of water, or–to be more Christian with my examples–Jesus in the dessert for forty days, drinking cactus water and hunting the occasional coyote (I didn’t look this up on Wikipedia, so I could be wrong about the coyotes).

This, obviously, is not how the Catholics view fasting. To them, fasting means (and I quote from Wikipedia:) eating “only one full meal during the day” plus “up to two small meals or snacks.” The article is careful to clarify that “Church requirements on fasting only relate to solid food, not to drink, so any amount of water or other beverages – even alcoholic drinks – may be consumed.”

How did this come about? Well, it all happened a long time ago when the Pope and God got together and worked out all the rules of the afterlife, and what’s good and bad and what’s not. Through a Freedom of Information Act request, I was able to gain access to transcripts of the snippet in question.

As a visual aid, here is the Pope, seen wearing one of his trademark crazy hats:

And here’s God, appearing in his usual burning shrubbery form:

We join them, already in progress…

POPE: Okay, all right, we’ve got the Secret Santa rules all situated. Now we need to talk about fasting.

GOD: What’s to talk about? No food.

POPE: Well, you see, that’s the problem. I’ve been talking with some of the Bishops, and we think that might be a little too strict, you know, for the kids. You know, some of these kids don’t eat all day, they’re liable to keel over, you know?

GOD: Okay, well, then you don’t have to start until you’re 15.

POPE: Well, what about the old farts? An eighty year old guy gives up food, next thing you know his blood sugar’s all over the place and he dies, and then who’s to blame? You. That’s who.

GOD: Fine, fine, you don’t have to do it after you turn 60, either.

POPE: All right, so now that we’ve cleared up those minor details, I want to know, specifically, what you mean by “no food.”

GOD: Umm…

POPE: You see, because, I mean, sometimes I have a stick of gum or two, and I don’t really count that as food, or I’ll eat a candy bar, you know?

GOD: Well, what would you have in mind, then?

POPE: Three meals. No less.

GOD: Three meals?! And you call that fasting? That’s ridiculous. (Beat.) Two meals.

POPE: Two?! I can’t believe you’d insult me like that, highballing me like that. But here’s what I’ll do, all right, your two meals, right, but we split one of the meals into two smaller meals.

GOD: Okay, all right, I can except that.

POPE: And, of course, since water is necessary for life, you won’t be restricting beverages, I assume?

GOD: Of course not.

POPE: All right, lemme right that down. [Gets out notebook, mutters to himself:] As much water and booze as necessary.

GOD: What was that?

POPE: Oh, nothing, and, all right, so what’s the punishment if you break these rules? I was thinking, maybe, cut off a hand? Or maybe you have to give your daughter up to your enemy, I don’t know, those don’t really seem to have the poetic feel to them. Sigh. All right, how ’bout the usual? Straight to Hell?

GOD: Sounds good to me.

POPE: All right,


Written by Greg Karber

May 31, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Posted in Ramble

One Response

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  1. Un blog muy interesante, me ha gustado mucho. Agur

    Miki Kyler

    October 10, 2010 at 11:32 pm

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