• image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
Tuesday, 09 March 2021 13:33

Lent and the Gift of Fasting

 2021.10.Lent.Fasting.Main Blog Image

In his Lenten Message for 2021, Pope Francis reminds us that Lent is a time for believing, for welcoming God into our lives and allowing him to “make his dwelling” among us (cf. Jn 14:23). We are invited and challenged to grow closer to God and to allow him to draw nearer to us. He also reminds us that "Fasting, prayer and almsgiving, as preached by Jesus (cf. Mt 6:1-18), enable and express our conversion. The path of poverty and self-denial (fasting), concern and loving care for the poor (almsgiving), and childlike dialogue with the Father (prayer) make it possible for us to live lives of sincere faith, living hope and effective charity". In this three-part series, we will consider the place of prayer, fasting and almsgiving in our Lenten journey to Easter and beyond. Today, in part one, the focus is on fasting.

Like it or not, fasting is one of the invitations we are given to grow in intimacy with Christ, particularly through the season of Lent.

Today, we turn to some giants of the faith to hear what they have to say about fasting. I invite you to read through the quotes below and then spend some time reflecting on the one that the Holy Spirit most leads you towards. As you pray, you might like to consider these questions:

  • What is God saying to me through these words?
  • What is the invitation or challenge that I am being presented with?

We must be careful not to practice a formal fast, or one which in truth “satisfies” us because it makes us feel good about ourselves. Fasting makes sense if it questions our security, and if it also leads to some benefit for others, if it helps us to cultivate the style of the Good Samaritan, who bends down to his brother in need and takes care of him. Fasting involves choosing a sober lifestyle; a way of life that does not waste, a way of life that does not “throw away”. Fasting helps us to attune our hearts to the essential and to sharing. It is a sign of awareness and responsibility in the face of injustice, abuse, especially to the poor and the little ones, and it is a sign of the trust we place in God and in his providence.

— Pope Francis

 

Fasting of the Body is food for the soul.

— St John Chrysostom

 

Fasting is a virtue only when it is accompanied by conditions which conditions which render it pleasing to God. Thus it happens that it profits some and not others, because it is not undertaken by all in the same manner.

— St Francis de Sales

 

Fasting is to reaffirm to oneself what Jesus answered Satan when he tempted him at the end of his 40 days of fasting in the wilderness: “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4). Penitential fasting is obviously something very different from a therapeutic diet, but in its own way it can be considered therapy for the soul. In fact practiced as a sign of conversion, it helps one in the interior effort of listening to God.

— St Pope John Paul II

 

Our Lord does not so much look at the greatness of our actions, or even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them.

— St Therese of Lisieux

 

Mel Edwards