Fasting during Lent

Spiritual Warfare
Material diversions are smothering our spiritual life, leaving a void in our soul. Our  transient and virtual desires are on the increase, carrying us further and further away from the spiritual life. As our entertainment and pastimes increase, so do the distractions that keep us from God.

It seems abundantly clear that fasting represents an important ascetical practice, a spiritual arm to do battle against every possible disordered attachment to ourselves. Freely chosen detachment from the pleasure of food and other material goods helps the disciple of Christ to control the appetites of nature, weakened by original sin, whose negative effects impact the entire human person. Quite opportunely, an ancient hymn of the Lenten Liturgy exhorts: ‘Let us use sparingly words, food and drink, sleep and amusements. May we be more alert in the custody of our senses.’ Since all of us are weighed down by sin and its consequences, fasting is proposed to us as an instrument to restore friendship with God. [Pope Benedict XVI ].

By degrees we are brought down, until, we are left lost and desensitized, with a stifled conscience and little or no remorse. Our descent continues, stopping only when everything we profess and all our principles are merely rhetorical echos lingering in the back of your mind.

Fasting as a religious act increases our sensitivity to that mystery always and everywhere present to us. It is an invitation to awareness, a call to compassion for the needy, a cry of distress, and a song of joy. It is a discipline of self-restraint, a ritual of purification, and a sanctuary for offerings of atonement. It is a wellspring for the spiritually dry, a compass for the spiritually lost, and inner nourishment for the spiritually hungry. [Fr. Thomas Ryan].

Our fasting should extend beyond food, It should include abstaining anything that impacts our awareness of the Divine Reality, from technology dependence to transient pleasures. Spending time cultivating humility and gratifying our spiritual needs should become paramount, at least during Lent.

Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, and kindles the true light of chastity. Enter again into yourself. [St. Augustine, “On Prayer and Fasting,” Quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas].

Filled with God
The reason for the scarcity of fasting is that too few people want to detach themselves from the pleasures of the world, to be emptied of self and be filled with God. They prefer the ephemeral to the Divine.

As bodily food fattens the body, so fasting strengthens the soul. Imparting it an easy flight, it makes it able to ascend on high, to contemplate lofty things, and to put the heavenly higher than the pleasant and pleasurable things of life. [St. John Chrysostom].

Fasting during Lent
Fasting during Lent should be about your hunger for God not your hunger for food. The Mardi Gras reveler has not tasted the joy of mystical union and does not know ecstasy of the Divine Presence. 

The faithful practice of fasting contributes, moreover, to conferring unity to the whole person, body and soul, helping to avoid sin and grow in intimacy with the Lord . . . 

Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God. [Pope Benedict XVI].


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