by ENZO BIANCHI
As human beings we are nourished not only by food, but also by the words and gestures we exchange with others
In Western Christianity today we are observing a de facto elimination of the ecclesial practice of fasting. Although fasting was practiced by the people of Israel, re-proposed by Christ, and incorporated into the great ecclesial tradition, it is less and less present today, and often our churches no longer request it. Yet if we want to discover the truth of who we are, the truth of our humanity which, with grace, becomes Christian truth, we need to think, pray, share what we have, and recognize the evil that dwells in us - but we also need to practice the form of oral discipline that is fasting. Eating belongs to the category of desire, because it goes beyond the simple function of providing us with nourishment and takes on highly significant affective and symbolic connotations. As human beings we are nourished not only by food, but also by the words and gestures we exchange with others, by relationships and love, and by everything else that gives meaning to the life food sustains and builds up in us. We also eat together with others, in an atmosphere of conversation and conviviality. Eating, speaking and kissing are all forms of oral expression, and since they are connected to the biological, communicative and affective dimensions of human life, they involve the entire person who receives life through these dimensions. Fasting carries out the basic function of helping us identify what it is that we hunger for, what gives us life, and what nourishes us, so that we can set our different appetites in order in a way that allows what is truly central in our life to remain central.