Pax Christi Southern California is organizing a rotating week of fasting in solidarity with the Campaign Nonviolence week of actions, Sept 21-27 2014. Fr. Chris Ponnet, Pastor/Chaplain of St. Camillus Center for Spiritual Care invites others to join as individuals or as groups.
Fr. Chris stated, “When I became a vegetarian in 1989, it was in solidarity with the people of El Salvador at a time of war and with the USA funding lots of the weapons. I have not eaten any kind of meat or fish since. Fasting is so simple yet challenging. Fasting demands self-reflection. Fasting in solidarity requires education around the injustice and cause. Fasting nonviolently calls me to come to know the “other” or “enemy”—they are part of humanity—images of the divine that created us all. When I did extended water or liquid only fasts that led to being in a wheelchair or other physical effects, my reflections were on surrender, dependency on the Divine, getting the self to step back from the common good, awareness of food as a part of socialization and how to engage people and give them permission to continue their life while being self-reflective, and be in solidarity for justice.
As we join in fasting for 24 or more hours, on water or liquid only, make sure you have time for quiet self-reflection, time for education on the focus of Campaign Nonviolence at Pace e Bene and Pax Christi and for actions in support of others risking arrests or sending letters to political or spiritual leaders at a time in which wars are active in Palestine, Israel, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Iran let alone on our streets. During this time we take one week as a focus for a lifetime commitment: ‘to abolish war, end poverty, reverse climate change, and challenge all violence’ “
JOIN US and SIGN UP. Please be safe and only fast at a realistic level that you can handle. If you have health care issues, please speak to your doctor about what is possible for you. Know you are not alone and together we can transform our hearts and minds and that of the world.
Below you will find some quotations that I have found helpful for reflection and encouragement.
RESOURCES FOR REFLECTION
Rabbi Lynn, founder of Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence, has offered a prayer that speaks to our hearts:
As faith rooted people, we give witness to our belief that peace among people of all faiths and communities is possible.
As faith rooted people, we believe that peace among Palestinians and Israelis is possible.
We affirm the process of truth and reconciliation to achieve this goal.
As faith rooted people, we lament the loss of innocent life, especially the children who are victim to political and religious violence. Every child is a member of the human family which we embrace.
We pray for the safety and freedom of all people who suffer the horrors of war, incarceration, loss of land and livelihood and physical violence.
No more rockets, guns or missiles shall be fired; no more tanks shall destroy land and homes.
No more loss of life shall occur. No more calls for revenge shall be uttered.
In this time of violence, we call for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire.
We also call for an end to Israel’s military occupation of Palestine, which we view as the root cause of the violence.
As people of faith, we place our trust, not in military might, but in The Creator’s desire for acts of loving kindness and the pursuit of restorative justice as the true pathway to peace and security for all people. May Israelis and Palestinians create.. an oasis of peace in the middle east. And may peace spread upon the land.
“Not nakedness, not platted hair, not dirt, not fasting or lying on the earth, not rubbing with dust, not sitting motionless, can purify a mortal who has not overcome desires.” – “Make thyself an island, work hard, be wise! When thy impurities are blown away, and thou art free from guilt, thou wilt enter into the heavenly world of the elect. . .thou wilt not enter again into birth and decay. Let a wise woman or man blow off the impurities of her or his self, as a smith blows off the impurities of silver, one by one, little by little, and from time to time. Rely on wisdom, not on ordinary consciousness.”–Gautama Buddha (566-486 B.C.; “The Dhammapada“)
“Fasting is an institution as old as Adam. It has been resorted to for self-purification or for some ends, noble as well as ignoble.” – “True happiness is impossible without true health. True health is impossible without the rigid control of the palate.” – “A complete fast is a complete and literal denial of self. It is the truest prayer.” – “A genuine fast cleanses the body, mind and soul. It crucifies the flesh and, to that extent, sets the soul free.” – “What the eyes are for the outer world, fasts are for the inner.” – “My religion teaches me that whenever there is distress which one cannot remove, one must fast and pray.” – Fasting will bring spiritual rebirth to those of you who cleanse and purify your bodies. The light of the world will illuminate within you when you fast and purify yourself.” – “More caution and perhaps more restraint are necessary in breaking a fast than in keeping it.” – “Experience has taught me that it was wrong to have dwelt upon the relish of food. One should eat not in order to please the palate, but just to keep the body going. When each organ of sense subserves the body and, through the body, the soul, its special relish disappears, and then alone does it begin to function in the way Nature intended it to do.”–Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948; Indian Independence Movement leader)
“She or he who does good of her or his own accord shall be rewarded, but to fast is better for you, if you but knew it.” – “A woman or man, while fasting, must abstain from all bad expressions, and must not even resent an injury.”–Muhammad (570?-632? A.D.)
“Prayer carries us half way to God, fasting brings us to the door of His palace, and alms-giving procures us admission.”–Muslim proverb
“O ye who believe, fasting is prescribed for you. . .as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may safeguard yourselves against every kind of ill and become righteous.”–“Quran” (c. 651 A.D.)
“Fasting as a religious act increases our sensitivity to that mystery always and everywhere present to us. It is an invitation to awareness, a call to compassion for the needy, a cry of distress, and a song of joy. It is a discipline of self-restraint, a ritual of purification, and a sanctuary for offerings of atonement. It is a wellspring for the spiritually dry, a compass for the spiritually lost, and inner nourishment for the spiritually hungry.”–Fr. Thomas Ryan (Dir., Catholic Paulist Society’s North American Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, Washington, D.C.)
“Through fasting, let your mind depend on its own power. When that power manifests, the life force in the body becomes increasingly reinforced with the eternal energy continually flowing into the brain and spine from the cosmic energy around the body, entering through the medulla. Becoming detached from dependence on outer, physical sources of bodily sustenance, the life force sees that it is being supported from within, and wonders how this is so. The mind then says: ‘The solids on which the body used to depend are nothing more than gross condensations of energy. You are pure energy, and you are pure consciousness.’ Then, whatever command the mind impinges in the consciousness of the life force, it will manifest accordingly.”–Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952; “Man’s Eternal Quest“; Indian Kriya Yoga teacher and founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship
True Fasts and Sabbaths
…”Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself? Is it for bowing one’s head like a reed And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed? Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the LORD? 6“Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke? 7“Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?… Isaiah 58:6f
“If there is no element of asceticism in our lives, if we give free rein to the desires of the flesh (taking care of course to keep within the limits of what seems permissible to the world), we shall find it hard to train for the service of Christ. When the flesh is satisfied it is hard to pray with cheerfulness or to devote oneself to a life of service which calls for much self-renunciation.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
“The flesh resists this daily humiliation, first by a frontal attack, and later by hiding itself under the words of the spirit (i.e. in the name of ‘evangelical liberty’). We claim liberty from all legal compulsion, from self-martyrdom and mortification, and play this off against the proper evangelical use of discipline and asceticism; we thus excuse our self-indulgence and irregularity in prayer, in meditation and in our bodily life. But the contrast between our behavior and the word of Jesus is all too painfully evident. We forget that discipleship means estrangement from the world, and we forget the real joy and freedom which are the outcome of a devout rule of life. As soon as a Christian recognizes that he has failed in his service, that his readiness has become feeble, and that he has sinned against another’s life and become guilty of another’s guilt, that all his joy in God has vanished and that his capacity for prayer has quite gone, it is high time for him to launch an assault upon the flesh, and prepare for better service by fasting and prayer (Luke 2:37; 4:2: Mark 9:29; 1 Cor. 7:5).”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
What is the benefit of fasting in our body while filling our souls with innumerable evils? He who does not play at dice, but spends his leisure otherwise, what nonsense does he not utter? What absurdities does he not listen to? Leisure without the fear of God is, for those who do not know how to use time, the teacher of wickedness. –Saint Basil
Every one must study his own nature. Some of you can sustain life with less food than others can, and therefore I desire that he who needs more nourishment shall not be obliged to equal others, but that every one shall give his body what it needs for being an efficient servant of the soul. For as we are obliged to be on our guard against superfluous food which injures body and soul alike, thus we must be on the watch against immoderate fasting, and this the more, because the Lord wants conversion and not victims.
– Francis of Assisi
In March 1968, Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr sent a telegram to the fasting farm labor leader Cesar Chavez: “As brothers in the fight for equality, I extend the hand of fellowship and good will and wish continuing success to you and your members…You and your valiant fellow workers have demonstrated your commitment to righting grievous wrongs forced upon exploited people. We are together with you in spirit and in determination that our dreams for a better tomorrow will be realized.”