1917 Fast Observance Today*: Fasting, maximum food intake is one meal, along with two small meal (that together don’t equate to another full meal). No snacking in between and no alcohol consumption today. No high-caloric “drinks” like milkshakes, smoothies, etc.
*Applicable to healthy adults between ages of 21-60 (some exemptions exist – see 1917 Fast: The Specifics)
1917 Abstinence Observance Today**: Partial abstinence, meaning that meat can be eaten only at the principal meal on these days
**Applicable to all age 7 and over.
Potential Prayer(s): The Liturgy of the Hours and the Sorrowful Mysteries Rosary
Potential Fast Intention: All those homeless, especially those suffering in the cold
Potential Give: Consider donating to the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless: https://www.mahomeless.org/donate
Fasting Inspiration of the Day: Saint John the Baptist. Saint John is venerated not only in Christianity, but also in Islam, the Bahai faith and others.
From Matthew Gospel, Chapter 3: The Preaching of John the Baptist
(3:4)John wore clothing made of camel’s hair and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.
Depiction of Happy Saint John the Baptist eating locusts and honey
Comments of the Day: In Matthew 3, we find John the Baptist in the desert of Judea, akin to our time now, imitating Jesus’ time spent in the desert. As it says, John’s diet was locusts and wild honey. Many scholars debate whether John really did eat locusts, which are a “certain species of short-horned grasshoppers … that have a swarming phase.”
For many years, the Greek: ἀκρίδες (akrides) was interpreted as referring not to locusts, the insect, but rather to the seed pods of the carob tree. But the Greek word is not used this way, and this notion is generally rejected today. Locusts are mentioned 22 other times in the Bible and all other mentions quite clearly refer to the insect. Locusts are still commonly eaten in Arabia. Eaten either raw or roasted they are quite nutritious and a source of many vitamins. While most insects were considered unclean under Mosaic law, Leviticus 11:22 specifically states that locusts are permitted. Portraying John the Baptist as eating seed pods rather than insects is possibly due to squeamishness about having such a revered figure eating insects and also a belief that a true ascetic should be completely vegetarian. What is meant by honey is also disputed. While bee honey was a common food in the area at the time, Jones believes that it refers to the tree gum from the tamarisk tree, a tasteless but nutritious liquid, rather than the honey made by bees.
According to Wikipedia, locusts “are also edible insects; they have been eaten throughout history and are considered a delicacy in many countries. The word “locust” is derived from the Vulgar Latin locusta, meaning locust or lobster…
Human insect-eating is common to cultures in most parts of the world, including North, Central, and South America; and Africa, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Over 1,000 species of insects are known to be eaten in 80% of the world’s nations. In 2005, some 2 billion insect consumers worldwide according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.”
In fact, entomophagy as it is called, which is the word for humans that eat insects as food, is considered one of the great potential renewable food sources worldwide. It has been said if practiced rigorously, it could stave off hunger for many food insecure populations worldwide.
Given John the Baptist ate locusts, he likely did for their high-protein content. In addition, bee honey was commonly sold at that time, and that would have sweetened his diet.
However, his diet has to be one of the most austere ever recorded and apparently played an important role in the development of Christian monasticism and ascetic practices.
Obviously John the Baptist’s daily diet reminds us just how good we have it, even under the 1917 fast. Take heed and remember should there be any difficulty moving forward today and this week!