To tell the truth, I’ve never really gotten the point of fasting. I know it’s supposed to help you detach from material things, but with me it tends to have the opposite effect: I spend my whole day thinking about food. But I had a little insight into it a few weeks ago, when I was up late with the baby.
Being up by myself in the silence of the night makes all my anxieties louder, and I was praying for mercy when I suddenly felt the presence of Jesus. Nothing really specific or profound–just a comforting presence. Baby fell asleep, and I lay down in bed, feeling peaceful. Then she started to fuss again. My first reaction was “ah, I can get up with her and go out into the quiet living room and feel that presence again!” But my second reaction was “or…I could stay here in this warm bed.” I was pretty surprised at myself. It wasn’t just some potential spiritual experience that was competing with comfort and sleep; it was something that had already happened, and it felt wonderful. But it still had trouble overriding my desire for bed.
I’ve always been able to see that my weakness for too much food, or too much sleep, was a bad thing; but this was the first time I saw it clearly competing with my spiritual good. Because I’ve formed the habit of lingering in bed, that habit kicks in even when I really want to get up and do something else. If I “fast” from staying in bed–maybe by getting up immediately every morning, at St. Josemaria Escriva’s heroic minute–perhaps I’ll be able to build a habit of self-denial instead, and I’ll be ready next time Jesus comes.