Today the series returns. The topic is discipline and self-control.
In my opinion, and I know that doesn’t count for much, self-control is one of the quintessential qualities that makes a man a man. Without it a man will be hard pressed to achieve anything, whether in this life or the next.
Part of this development of self-control relies on self-denial: to deny yourself things you might otherwise have, for some good cause. Sometimes it is because putting it off will yield greater rewards in the future. Other times it is because a more fulfilling path is available by giving something up. And yet other times denial can help one build mental fortitude- the will to resist, the will to say no.
This final reason (of those listed, others exist) is what drives me to post today. Today marks the beginning of the Great Lent in the Eastern Church, at least according to the Gregorian Calendar. The Byzantine fasting tradition is considerably more… serious than that of the West, at least nowadays. Whereas in the West one is to lightly eat on Fridays, and not eat meat at all, in the East (or at least the Eparchy where I live) fasting is done on Wednesdays and Fridays, and no meat, dairy or egg products are allowed.
This is the first time that I’ve attempted the Eastern fast. Giving up meat is something I have practiced for a long time, but giving up those others will be a new experience. Especially for two days every week. But all the same, I think it is an important effort on my part. I have had to deny myself a number of things over the years, some of which are known to my readers. I can look back now and see where that helped me build discipline, discipline that has helped me in numerous areas of my life.
So if this post is to have any lesson, it is this: men, consider fasting. While not easy- especially when you take it all the way, it pays off in the end. It helps put *you* in control of your life, and not your Appetites and instincts.
You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 Take your share of suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to satisfy the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will grant you understanding in everything.
(2 Timothy 2:1-7)