Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Thomas Aquinas Responds to the Carob/Chocolate Controversy

From last time.

Dear Communion of Saints,I resolved to give up chocolate for Lent and am having a hard time of it in this last week. I stopped by the local co-op and bought some carob to eat instead. Was this a sin? Or even a breaking of my Lenten fast?--Elizabeth

St. Thomas Aquinas responds:
And so, my sister, the primary question is...
Whether substituting carob for chocolate breaks a personal Lenten fast?

Objection #1: The practice of fasting from a particular substance usually demands some substitution for another substance. As Anselm argued in Cur Deus Homo, substitionary atonement was good enough for God, and therefore substitution in principle is good enough for humanity. Therefore it does not break the personal fast.

Objection #2: Carob is mentioned in the inter-testamental literature (The Works of Daniel and Esau) as a good and a delight, especially when mixed with dates and figs. Therefore it does not break the personal fast.

Objection #3: St. Paul argued it is better for man to marry than "to burn" (1 Corinthians 7). Analogically, it is better to unite with carob than to succumb to chocolate. Therefore it does not break the personal fast.

On the contrary, The Philosopher argues, "I think Socrates was forced to drink carob in his death potion." (Ars Rhetorica Duo, XXXVII.23)

I answer that, as all creation has its ordained place in the created order, and all share being, any substitution of a luxury food for a luxury food in a personal fast may be understood as partaking of the same being. Therefore ingesting carob does break a personal Lenten fast of chocolate.

Reply to objection #1: While substitution can be a good in principle, it is ordered to the greater good of sacrificial love for others. Eating carob is not oriented to any definition of love.

Reply to objection #2: The inter-testamental literature is not canonical, and is rife with apocalyptic fervor, which explains why they thought the carob/fig/date mix was attractive.

Reply to objection #3: It has been proven that no man wants to marry carob.

My sister in Christ, I encourage you to look at my earlier work for your second question, whether substituting carob is a sin. I deal with that question, albeit indirectly. Now go eat a dry crust of bread. God bless.



Florian said...

Dear Thomas Aquinas,

might you consider to consult another member of the communion of the saints, the esteemed Pope Pius V. In 1569 he decreed that cholocate does not break the fast, since it is liquid, thus follows "Liquidum non frangit jejunum,".

So is it actually a valid sacrifice to give up chocolate for lent ? And if not, on which grounds do you then object to the substitution of carob, since the original asker was not giving it up for lent.

angelmeg said...

Florian, you are assuming that the writer was consuming chocolate in its liquid form, and not in its solid form, say as ghiardelli squares.

Florian said...


you are so Dominican....

but as the Jesuits argued, chocolate melts on its way to the stomach, so it is a liquid

as confirmed by Gregor XIII., Clemens VII., Paul V., Pius V., Urban VIII., Clemens XI. and Benedikt XIV

(and now I just hope that this food websites I am stealing that stuff from is actually right...)

Anonymous said...

Jeeves, er, I.C., you've done it again! My favorite post so far!

The Ironic Catholic said...

Dear Jesuits and Dominicans:
Thomas told me that such fasting from luxuries (and liquid chocolate, before or of after ingestion, is such) for penitential reasons is entirely valid.

He also said "Go Dominicans!" Rooting for the home team even in heaven, I guess....


Martin said...

I asked Padre Pio and he said he saw the person in question sneak a Milky Way to wash the carob down.