Movies like “Chocolat” make it hard. That’s the one where the lovely Juliette Binoche (as Vivienne Rocher) rescues the people of a small French Catholic town out of their dull, repressed lives. Her secret? She lures them from their Lenten fast with chocolate. And not just any chocolate. Hers is “tailored to their deepest desires … [with] power to unlock hidden yearnings,” she says.
It’s not a movie I recommend for Lent.
Or maybe it is perfect for Lent because it gets fasting so wrong, it makes me want to “do it right.”
The moral of the story comes at the end, delivered by the priest: “we can’t measure our goodness … by what we deny ourselves, but by what we embrace.” Wait! I want to say. You’re missing the point! Fasting has nothing to do with measuring goodness — it’s about helping us embrace real goodness. Desires are wonderful things. They make life rich and exciting. But when we try to satisfy them with created goods, they are never enough.
Our souls are meant for more! They are created for God himself. To be filled with God, we must remove whatever’s in the way: Sin. Indulgence. Activity.
There’s no end to what can clutter up our souls. But the traditional practices of Lent — fasting, prayer, almsgiving, with repentance — do a great job of cleaning them out. Fasting, in particular, helps us with unruly desire. If we deny ourselves chocolate (or wine, or new clothes, or the internet) for a time, our hunger comes into focus, where we can direct it toward Him who alone can satisfy.
Come, let us return to the Lord from other loves!
WINE Lenten reflection
© 2020 Sarah Christmyer