Jack’s Lent

Feastday of St. Constantine of Cornwall, the Eighth year in the Reign of Richard II  

medeival pottageI can see for myself that Young Tucker has scarce taken the sacraments nor observed his religious duty in other ways. Today we fast but Jack complains of it. “Why should we fast today when we fast so many times before? And us with food in the pantry for a change!” he laments.

Must I be priest as well as guardian to the knave?

I kept a sharp eye on him and made certain he only took water, for when we went to church, I saw how slick and clever he can be. I did catch him with bread in his pouch and he’d pop a morsel into his mouth whenever he becrossed himself, thinking I didn’t notice. Once outside on the steps I made him surrender it to me and told him to give it to yon beggar. He did, most reluctantly, but I needed only to remind him that he was in such a state only two brief years ago. With that, he vowed repentance and it seemed for the rest of the day, he was behaving himself.

When he made our weak pottage for supper, he did not even use the dried fish we had, but told me that the peas and barley would suffice. I agreed and we sat down to our supper with scarcely full bellies but with clearer consciences. I forget that he was on his own for years with his own rules and scant religion. But it seems he longs for a normal life between four walls and the hand of the Church carefully guiding him. But it falls to me to teach him the difference between faith and foolishness.

For now we fast for the betterment of our souls. For the rest of the time when we go hungry, well. We learn to take it like penitent men and patiently await its end.