Spiritual Disciplines pt. 2 – Fasting, Confession and Simplicity

On January 30, Jill Weber wrote about the spiritual disciplines that New Monasticism interns in Hamilton were trying based on Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline. One of the cool things about the internship is that they post their reflections online for their community of interns to read. I love that they share with one another their joys and struggles as they experiment. With their permission, we are sharing some of those reflections on various disciplines from some of the interns.

Meghan Hers’ reflection on practicing fasting, simplicityand confession:

I’ve found this month’s assignment to be really impactful. I’ve felt myself being way more aware than usual of confession, fasting, and simplicity in my day to day life. Since confession is one of my disciplines for this month, I’ll confess here that I just started reading the book last week, but really love what I’ve read so far, and have gotten through all the chapters on my disciplines. I think the word “distilled” comes to mind when thinking of Richard Foster and his writing style-you can tell that he’s stripped all excess, anything unnecessary from what he writes, and cuts right to the heart of things. 

Since the night that we discussed our disciplines with Jill in early January I’ve been thinking a lot about Foster’s definition of simplicity: “If what we have we receive as a gift, and if what we have is to be cared for by God, and if what we have is available to others, then we will possess freedom from anxiety.” I’ve been thinking a lot about intentionality in how I live and how I interact with my possessions because I’m about to start a life with my fiance when we get married this summer, and it’ll be a good time to get into healthy patterns of simplicity in how we live and how much we own. In addition, we’ve been trying to figure out how to register for wedding gifts wisely, without accumulating unnecessary things, but also not impeding our guests’ generosity. It’s a challenge, but I’m grateful that he shares a similar attitude to me on this subject. 

Fasting all day this past Saturday from Facebook wasn’t hard, since I was out of the house and away from my computer all day. In reading more of the fasting chapter though, I actually want to try a legit food fast at some point in the future. I liked how Foster drew out the Biblical imperative for fasting in a gentle but firm way. I particularly liked the way that he explained that “fasting reveals the things that control us.” I think that’s been particularly true as I’ve struggled with a complete fast from Facebook. I don’t at all like the way that it controls me, or that I compulsively check it even when I don’t want to. 

Confession has happened here and there this month, and I’ve chatted with Jill about the dynamics of who we confess to and how it’s done. I like Foster’s observation that “penance is seen as an opportunity to pause for a moment to consider the seriousness of our sin.” That really resonated with me because paying particular attention to confession has revealed to me that I don’t take my sin as seriously as I’d like. I think that it’s never been a huge focus in any of the church traditions I’ve participated in, and I wonder about how that’s been the case for so long. 

 I definitely want to keep picking away at Celebration, but it is so dense that it seems to need to be eaten in small, manageable bites. 

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