Sunday, April 12, 2009

An Italian Holy Saturday (and some final thoughts on Lent)

So yes, again this Holy Saturday I ate the traditional Italian foods such as meat pie and macaroni pie, filled with eggs, cheese, meat etc.

I read something interesting recently regarding the Lenten fast. I always knew that in the old days, Catholics would refrain from meat, cheese and eggs for much of Lent, hence the reason Holy Saturday foods in Italian tradition were so filled with them. But why Lent itself? Obviously, some self sacrifice is good for you. But there may be practical reasons as well.

In pre-modern northern Europe, by February, food was starting to get scarce. No new foods would be harvested until spring of course, so the food from last fall needed to last longer. So Lent gave some religious meaning to the hungry season. And by spreading the burdens of the hunger, so that prince and peasant, priest and burger, felt the pangs together, it helped social cohesion.

It makes sense, but then again, I always find Catholicism eminently reasonable and practical.


Rodak said...

That's interesting--as were Parts 1 & 2 of your Holy Week meditations.
Please allow me to share with you my much less formal, but perhaps tenuously related Easter message.

Anonymous said...

I have always thought that the Catholic year makes so much sense--Lent is like God's diet plan after the Christmas feasting, a good reason to clear out the chocolate and other goodies, clean the mind and body.

Anonymous said...

Well, okay it made(!) sense. In the past. No doubt that religion gives advice to many peopla regarding many aspects of practical life.
But how can you conclude then that catholocism as such is rational?

For me, it merely shows that catholicism is just as good as any other religion/philosophy: i.e. it gives advice of how to life, but you cannot conclude that other teachings of it are right then too. (such as: there is a good, there is heaven and hell, etc)

The fact that lent was rational in the medieval times does not lead to the assertion that lent is good today. (a totally other argument is the self-sacrifice argument. Many religions/sects use it as a meditational means)


"Fools and Fanatics are so certain of themselves whilst wise people are so full of doubts"