Let me tell you what Fast Sunday is all about in the Mormon world. It was the one weekend a month that I hated more than any other, it was dread, it was the pain and suffering that can only come from the directives of a vengeful God.
My father never did anything halfway when it came to adhering to the principles and precepts of the gospel until after I had moved out of his house. I hear he softened a bit for the younger kids but I'm not in touch with them enough to know if this is true. However back in the day, when it came to Fast Sunday there was no softness in the old man.
We were always busy doing this or that for the church on Saturdays. Sometimes it was helping people move – Mormons move more than any other group of people on earth: excepting perhaps Gypsies and Mongolian Herdsmen. Sometimes our Saturdays were spent working at the Ward's welfare farm or in the Stake cannery where the food storage items are prepared. Sometimes it was Home Teaching – which is where a pair of Mormon men (the pair must have an adult, but sometimes the junior companion can be as young as 12) visit four to six families in the ward and teach them a lesson about the gospel, offer to help them an (usually with moving I discovered) and generally see how they're doing.
After a full Saturday working for the Lord, we'd go home and eat dinner. My father would bless the food and dedicate the fast. Then it was on . . .
No food or drink, not even water for the rest of the night. In the morning – nothing. We were fasting. We'd awake, get ready for church and go. If we were caught going toward the water fountain at church it was a whipping later for disrespecting the Lord. All through church, hungry.
Church consists of Sacrament Meeting which is the main meeting of the church, in the chapel with everyone in attendance, followed by Sunday School which is then followed by Priesthood Meeting (for the men, of course).
On Fast Sundays the Sacrament Meeting is renamed Fast and Testimony Meeting and for some reason, missionaries love to bring their marks (investigators) to church during Testimony meeting.
It begins with a hymn and a prayer, then announcements by the Bishop or one of this counselors, then the sacrament is passed out by teenage priesthood holders. Sacrament is one tiny, torn piece of Wonder bread (no larger than a bird's crumb) and a condiment cup of water – this is the blood and body of Christ – he's Wonder Bread and tap water in case you were curious. Then the real part of the meeting begins. All these hungry people stand up from the congregation, one by one, and tell the rest of the members how much they believe in the church, in Joseph Smith, in the current prophet, and the Gospel. Then they usually recount some personal experience where the Spirit, or Holy Ghost, has given them guidance and helped them overcome some obstacle that Satan placed in tier path. This is a prime indication that the church is true. Usually that spirit guides them in something stupid, like finding their keys when they were late for a church meeting and really felt desperate to find the keys so they prayed and Viola – keys. That spirit is an amazing thing. My key hook beside the back door isn't shit compared to the Spirit.
I was great at Fast and Testimony meeting, I have to say. I could tell a key-finding story with the best of them. I'd get up and deliver a roaring tale that would leave half the congregation in tears – the other half was too far gone with hunger and fatigue to notice if Christ himself were crawling around under the pews looking for his own keys.
We'd go to the other meetings and then we'd stand around the foyer and while my dad talked – and talked – and talked – and talked with anyone who has ears. The man could talk about anything with anyone and it was all to keep us from eating.
Well, I was cranky from lack of food and on the way home I'd whine. This would start the yelling and the fighting would ensue. When everyone was good and angry, we'd arrive home and dinner would start.
Start, I said. We couldn't sit down to it until at least 24 hours had passed from the last time we'd eaten anything except the Christ Almighty, who is Wonder Bread and tap water, of course.
I always had a headache by then. I felt miserable.
Then we'd dig in – after an interminable prayer lasting several long minutes which seemed like hours.
We'd dig in, and eat while my father explained in great detail how he was disappointed that we weren't using Fast Sunday to become closer to the Lord instead of complaining about hunger.
- rick, going to have a sammich now.