The purpose of fasting and abstinance is to learn to discipline oneself and tame the passions. Going without the luxury of a full meal can be difficult in a culture like ours where we have an abundance of food and rarely go without. Fasting should make us view our relationship to food in a new light and should also result in a true hunger for God. Being hungry should make us grow in realization of our dependence on God and knowledge that:

“man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”(Matthew 4:4)

Fasting is closely connected to almsgiving.  Having made ourselves go hungry we should identify with the poor and needy, and true charity for our neighbor should grow out of our lack of contentment and satiety. The poor must fast all the time from lack of food.  This Lent, try to voluntarily go without, out of love of God and neighbor.

Here are some suggestions for the practice of fasting during Lent:

  • Wednesday is the day Christ was betrayed by Judas. Friday the day He was crucified. This is why we fast on these days.  Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence. Abstaining from meat traditionally links us to the poor, who could seldom afford meat for their meals.  For members of the Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.
  • Many often choose something to give up during all of Lent—not just on Fridays—as a way of fasting. The spirit of penance primarily suggests that we discipline ourselves in that which we enjoy most. Maybe it’s that cup of coffee in the morning, or maybe that favorite TV show. Practice self-discipline and challenge yourself to give something up that you really enjoy until Easter.
  • Fasting does not need to mean giving up something physical.  Challenge yourself to fast from speaking any negative or critical word on Fridays.



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