The fasting dilemma
One of the things that pious booklets sometimes say about Lenten fasting is that one should put aside the money one saves by fasting and give it to the poor.
The difficulty I find is that Lent usually involves more expense.
Fasting food often costs more than ordinary food. The following illustration is taken from the USA, but it applies in other places too.
Fasting food includes fish without backbones, like shellfish, but excludes fish with backbones. Perhaps in the fourth century, in St Basil’s time, shellfish, octopus and calamari were cheaper. Perhaps they were the poor man’s food, because they could be gathered along the shore by poor beachcombers, whereas fish with backbones were caught by professional fishermen who went out in boats, and so cost more. I don’t know, I’m just speculating. But certainly prawns and calamari cost a lot more in Gauteng than the ubiquitous hake (which is dyed orange to masquerade as haddock too).
Another thing about Lent is that there are more services.
And that’s cool in Orthodox countries, where for most people there are plenty of churches within walking distance, at least in the cities. But here it requires a (sometimes long) car ride, and this year we haven’t seen much of the Presanctified Liturgy, because just about every road is being dug up, and travel is something to be avoided as far as possible. But even when travel is possible, it too means additional expense.
I’m not complaining, mind. It’s just that when I see these things about the money you save in Lent I think they are misleading. You actually need to save money during the rest of the year to be able to afford Lent.