Sinead Moriarty: Fast food, fast cars and fast broadband – no wonder fasting seems outdated
AS Lent begins again for another year and millions of people around the world decide what to give up or sacrifice for 40 days, it is a small wonder that this Christian tradition is still respected and followed.
In a world of instant gratification where children freak if a game or movie takes more than five seconds to download, where there is a pill for every ill, an ice-cream flavour for every mood and injections to preserve eternal youth, it is reassuring to know that some traditions are still sacred.
While the actual sacrifices have diminished over the years (does giving up red M&Ms really count?), it seems that there have always been disputes on how long the fast should last for. As far back as the 3rd Century, in 203, St Irenaeus wrote to Pope St Victor I, commenting on the celebration of Easter and the differences between practices in the East and the West: "The dispute is not only about the day, but also about the actual character of the fast. Some think that they ought to fast for one day, some for two, others for still more; some make their 'day' last 40 hours on end . . ."