Whilst you all face the traumatic Christmas quandary of whether or not to break with the traditional turkey and finally try goose this year, the Anglo-Saxon Monk continues his lonely struggles with Christmas fasting. Have a little compassion, please!
Well, what a blessed kerfuffle! This fasting business for Yule-tide Lent – the forty days before Christmas – is proving to be rather problematic, as you already know if you were one of the compassionate readers of my previous post.
OK, I only have myself to blame. Trying to get back on track with my fasting seemed such an honourable endeavour, but I’m beginning to have qualms about my methods.
As I informed my blessed readers, I’m attempting to find a greater purpose, or motivation, for fasting. I don’t know why, but the fact that fasting should allow me to devote myself more fully to my spiritual duties just isn’t cutting the mustard (and German sausage).
It’s been suggested to me that attempting to draw inner strength by imagining the sin of vomiting due to gluttony and drunkenness – which attracts 7 days of fasting as penance – was, quite frankly, ridiculous logic. But that’s what absence of food does to you. It addles your brain. And mine, I can tell you, has been just like scrambled eggs these last couple of days. (I like them softly scrambled, by the way, with no stinting on the butter, and well seasoned.)
So, I’ve moved direction with my sinning – my imagining of it, that is. And here’s what I’ve come up with through my careful reading of my scriftboc, my handbook of penance:
‘If a little boy steals or eats carrion, and he understands this, he should fast seven days. If he’s twenty winters old and does such a thing, he should fast twenty nights.’ (Scriftboc, my own translation)
So, as you see, for this sin I need to imagine myself as a little boy, probably some ruffian or village urchin. Any older, and I would have to fast for another twenty days, and I don’t have enough days left before Yule to do that.
Now, I know you’re thinking that this is another case of me falling to another eating-related sin, but please take note: I am just imagining stealing the carrion, not eating it!
And what would I want anyway with mangled, putrescent carcasses when some nice cheese, a few softly boiled eggs, a hunk of roast lamb and a flagon of mead is to be had – in my imagination, I mean?!
Oh, this is no good! I have to get my thoughts away from food! But what is a poor, fasting Anglo-Saxon monk to do? There’s only one thing for it. No more food-related sins. Instead, I must think about ... sex.
The trouble is, will I be able to find a sexual sin in my scriftboc that attracts less than a year’s fasting? Well, it would be most educational to find out ...