I need to fast more.  That’s probably a funny first line of a post entitled, “how to feast,” as well as an ironic way to begin a post on this beautiful feast of the Birth of the Blessed Mother.  But the thought came to me before Mass today, as my mind wandered about how I was going to celebrate Mary’s birthday.

It’s a big day, after all.  “Today God welcomes on earth the holy throne which He had prepared for Himself.  He who established the heavens in wisdom has fashioned a living heaven.” (Byzantine Liturgy)

“Before the birth of our Lord, all good men who lived in expectation of Israel’s Redeemer incessantly longed for His coming.  They ardently desired that the Eternal Father should hasten the hour of sending them their Deliverer; and the transports of joy with which they would have greeted the smallest sign that that hour was approaching may be well imagined by us.  Suppose them, then, to have known when the Blessed Virgin was born that she was to be the Savior’s Mother, what may we not conclude would have been their delight?”  (Jacques Benigne Bossuet)

How would I feast for Our Lady?  Well, extra prayers, a Rosary, etc, were of course in order, as those are the best ways to celebrate.

But we have an incarnational Faith — God has created the world for men, and He has sanctified it by becoming Man.  We are physical beings as well as spiritual ones, so we celebrate in physical ways too.

Like with ice cream.

Which brings us back to that mind-wandering of mine.  How would I celebrate her birthday?  With ice cream?  Maybe Coldstone Creamery?

And then I remembered that I had ice cream bars in my refrigerator.  And that I had eaten two yesterday, when I was sitting in my apartment in a bad mood, wishing I was at a cookout for Labor Day, but not wanting to exert the energy to go find one.

Hm.  So much for feasting on ice cream.  How could I feast on ice cream today when I had eaten it yesterday for no good reason?

And that’s why I need to fast more.  Not that you need to fast every day that is not a feast day– but you can never feast if you never fast.  I recently learned that a certain religious order fasts the day before their founder’s feast day.  Hard core fast– like the same fast they do on Good Friday.

Why? I questioned them.

So we can feast the next day!  was the answer.

The Church, in her wisdom, has laid out a calendar of fasts and feasts.  We fast so that we can feast.

But we mustn’t forget to feast.  One theologian pointed out that there are Catholics who are so diligent about fasting and mortification, that they forget to feast.  We may fast 40 days in Lent… but do we feast for the 50 days of Easter?

Balance.  It’s all about balance.

Which brings me to ice cream again.  Don’t eat two ice cream bars on Labor Day just because you’re bored and by yourself.  Because then what the heck do you do the next day to make the day extra-ordinary?

(Nutella crepes.)