“even our self-denial is an act of self-expression. Our submission to discipline is converted to act of will power.”
In a more robustly communal practice of the faith, my self-denial is not up to me. The practices of fasting and feasting are not a matter of choice: they are part of the spiritual architecture of the church. It’s not so much that I choose to abstain from meat; meat is not going to be served. There are communal commitments embedded in an environment that takes the emphasis off of my choice and will power and instead throws me into the formative power of the practice. My participation in the formative disciplines of Lent isn’t another chance for me to show something to God (or others). It is an invitation to have my hungers retrained.