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Why Fast During Lent?

Fasting has become more or less associated with dietary health, but it has a tremendously rich spiritual purpose.  Catholics are called to fast during Lent as a way of preparing spiritually for the celebration of Easter, which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a way of emptying ourselves out so we can be filled with God. Below is a brief insight into what Catholic fasting is meant to do.

  1. Spiritual Discipline: Fasting is a form of spiritual discipline, helping us to focus our minds and hearts on God. By denying ourselves certain comforts or indulgences, we seek to strengthen our relationship with God and grow in self-discipline.
  2. Identification with Christ’s Sacrifice: Lent is a period of reflection on the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, particularly His fasting and forty days in the wilderness as recounted in the Gospels. By fasting during Lent, we aim to identify with Christ’s sacrifice and to unite our sufferings with His.
  3. Repentance and Renewal: Lent is a time for us to repent of our sins and to seek forgiveness and renewal. Fasting can be a physical expression of this repentance, a way of acknowledging one’s need for God’s mercy and grace.
  4. Solidarity with the Poor: By voluntarily giving up certain foods or luxuries during Lent, we also express solidarity with the poor and marginalized, who may not have access to such comforts on a regular basis, which when united with prayer, creates empathy and compassion for those who are less fortunate.
  5. The Demons Hate It: The spiritual forces that assail us day in and day out want us distracted, satiated, and lethargic.  The more full we are of food, entertainment, noise, and comfort, the harder it is to hear the Father’s voice.  Our Lord Himself tells us that some demons can only be cast out “by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21).  Having a particularly hard time rooting out a sin?  Fast.  Fasting is intense spiritual warfare.

I urge us all as a parish to really embrace this rich spiritual practice this Lent.  We’ll all have the things we “give up” for Lent, but let’s also adopt a spirituality and mindset of fasting, constantly choosing the lesser, making small sacrifices here and there in every category of our consumption.  May the Lord bless our Lenten fast, help us to pray from the poverty it creates, and urge us to be as generous as His Sacred Heart is!

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!
All you holy saints of God, pray for us!

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Michael