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Fasting the weapon in Augustine's Daily War

"But now the necessity of habit is sweet to me, and against this sweetness must I fight, lest I be enthralled by it. Thus I carry on a daily war by fasting, constantly bringing my body into subjection..." - St. Augustine

Why Men?

By Steven C. Habisohn, e5 Founder

The actual significance of fasting for one's bride may not at first be obvious. However, the enthusiasm of which Christian men gravitate to this task is evidence that something quite important is at stake. When even briefly explained, men of good will, even of different denominations and levels of devotion, seem to gravitate towards this idea as being an important addition to their spirituality. For many, as I myself have experienced, it becomes a central part of their identity as a Christian male. When presented to Christian men of good will their eyes often light up as if they have found something that they didn't realize they were missing until they heard it. The idea of suffering, far from being the ultimate evil the world presents it as, becomes the weapon of choice in the dual with evil and brokenness itself. 

It took five years of contemplation for me to finally hit upon this simple idea of men fasting for their brides and for all women; especially those women sinned against by men. There were many things that lead up to this simple concept but one of the most important was when I heard a quote from Pope John Paul II concerning the role that men play in bringing peace to the war of the sexes. Building on the idea that the relationship between man and woman is centered on the giving and receiving of the gift of self, the pope stated, 

"that from 'the beginning' man was to have been the guardian of the reciprocity of donation and it true balance. Although maintenance of the balance of the gift seems to be entrusted to both, a special responsibility rests with the man above all, as if it depended more on him whether this balance was maintained or broken, or even if already broken re-established."

Do we not, as men, feel this in the depths of our hearts? Do we not want to protect and nurture our brides; and if not married, do we not want to find that one to nurture and protect? Every mature Christian man feels this in his heart. But the problem today is that we are told by this world that there is no difference between man and woman, between husband and wife. Christian men have been trying struggling to understand their vocation in this "new society." So often they feel helpless to step in where they see their families and society falling apart. They are rarely presented as the solution only the problem.

If we take John Paul II seriously, we can see that men do hold a greater responsibility in regards to safeguarding the relationship between men and women. If there are problems it depends more on men to bring peace and healing to the situation. The problem is most see men as the problem and therefore do not see men as the solution, hence pushing men farther and farther out of the lives of women.

The Pope recognizes that men are often the cause of the problems, but does not reject them as the solution; in fact he embraces the idea. Instead of rejecting men because they are so influential in causing problems for women, he asks men to take a leading role in ending the war of the sexes. It is precisely because of the influence men have on women that men are called to interject themselves into the problem between the sexes in a profound way. Our guilt as a sex should draw us into conviction and action not abandonment. Jesus did not abandon his bride even though she nailed him to a cross! 

How should men love? We need only look at the model for all grooms, Jesus Christ. He laid down his very body for his bride so that she would be "without spot or wrinkle." This is the essence of the e5 for men to be more like Christ so that women can receive healing through their sacrifice. In modeling their acts of self sacrifice on Christ and joining them to his suffering on the cross, the men of the e5 are transformed as well. They too become "without spot or wrinkle."