I’m currently competing with myself to see how many days I can go without grocery shopping. I’ve used food that has worked its way to the back of the pantry, previously hidden and overlooked. Reduced trips to my local co-op have helped me take stock of what’s already in my kitchen. Limited grocery shopping is just one of many changes that have dramatically increased the amount of time that I spend in my home. In turn, the challenges and gifts of staying at home have increased my understanding of the reason for the monastic vow of stability.
Every baptized Christian is directly responsible for the primary mission of the Church: evangelization. Pope Benedict XVI recalled this in an address in 2012, saying that lay people “should not be regarded as ‘collaborators’ of the clergy, but, rather, as people who are really ‘co-responsible’ for the Church’s being and acting.” Pope Francis has claimed that “in some cases, lay persons have not been given the formation needed to take on important responsibilities” (Evangelii Gaudium, §102), to the extent that every member of the Church is empowered as distinctly but fully called and co-responsible for the Church’s mission.
As dioceses across the country are beginning to re-open our churches and return to the public celebration of the Eucharist, some people are wondering what will happen. Will people have gotten used to staying home on Sunday? Will they wake up to the fact that the Eucharist never really mattered that much to them, since they so quickly got used to not receiving it? Or will they wake up to the fact of how much they value the Eucharist, because, once deprived of the opportunity to participate, they found they developed a hunger for it more quickly than they expected?
In the Gospel of Luke, we hear that as soon as the angel Gabriel departs from Mary, she travels to the hill country “in haste” to see her cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1:39). When Mary meets her cousin, and the unborn John the Baptist announces the presence of the unborn Lord by leaping in his mother Elizabeth’s womb, Elizabeth proclaims the fruit of Mary’s womb blessed, and Mary herself blessed among women. Mary’s response, the Magnificat, reveals how she has been glorified by God, who has always come to the help of the lowly, the poor, and those who fear him. In this canticle, Mary proclaims the greatness of God because of his mercy.
I started daily 16-hour fasts in July of 2019 after researching the benefits of intermittent fasting. When I was presented with a concrete plan for turning fasting into a more intentional spiritual practice, I discovered something much more rewarding than physical discipline.