Fasting & Abstinence


#1

Is it true that it was once required to fast a lot more than now, and that it was a mortal sin not to? Has that changed and what happened to the souls condemned to hell for commiting that sin if it has been changed?


#2

I think the sin involved was disobedience, and only God has the answer to your question.

I’ve always had a problem with fasting or “giving something up” for lent, preferring instead to take a positive approach by going out of my way to help others. To me, fasting is only half the equation. You should then take what you don’t eat and give it to the poor. See Is. 58 for instructions on the type of fast desired by God. It’s only two pages and is chock full of good stuff, most aimed at obedience to the second great commandment later given by Jesus.

A great deal of the Old Testament deals with loving your neighbor. Unfortunately, His people frequently followed the letter of the law and not the spirit, and the Scripture referenced above deals with this. Have you ever noticed that in the 2600 or so years since that was written, not much has changed. We go to Mass every Sunday, go to confession, etc., and think we have fulfilled our Christian duty. Then, we go about our daily lives with scarcely a thought of those around us who may be needy in some way. Have we really done what God has commanded?

To illustrate, let’s say that you planned to attend mass on Sunday afternoon. Shortly before mass, you find out that a neighbor was just rushed to the hospital and the spouse needs assistance with child care, a ride to the hospital, or whatever. To help would mean you would have to miss mass. What should you do? More importantly, what do you think God would want you to do.

I am firmly convinced that when we are judged. it will be more on how we have cared for others than on how much we follow the “rules” or profess to love God. We are told in the New Testament that anyone who professes to love God but does not love his neighbor is a liar. If we don’t love those whom we can see (who are made in the image and likeness of God), how can we claim to love God whom we cannot see? Just my :twocents:.


#3

[quote=FightingFat]Is it true that it was once required to fast a lot more than now, and that it was a mortal sin not to? Has that changed and what happened to the souls condemned to hell for commiting that sin if it has been changed?
[/quote]

if anyone was ever condemned to hell for not observing these disciplines when they were required, they are in hell for the same reason anyone else is: they rejected completely and for all time obedience and submission to God and union with Him at the moment of their particular judgment after death, not merely because they ate meat or had 4 meals one day in Lent.


#4

I think fasting has gotten a bad rap. People look at it and think…it doesn’t really do any good, giving up food or TV doesn’t make me closer to God. But the purpose of fasting is to remind us, to keep us in a state of awareness. Each time we feel a hunger pang, or desire, we remember we have set that aside…and then we remember WHY we have set it aside. Then we have God, and our faith practice in our mind…again! And with our mind on higher things, we can take time to pray, read scripture, do a good work, respond in gratitude for divine love.

Fasting is an excellant spiritual resource, not because there is an inherent good in eating less, but because it returns our focus to the divine, and our relationship to the divine. It reminds us what the source of all good things is!

cheddar


#5

[quote=cheddarsox]I think fasting has gotten a bad rap. People look at it and think…it doesn’t really do any good, giving up food or TV doesn’t make me closer to God. But the purpose of fasting is to remind us, to keep us in a state of awareness. Each time we feel a hunger pang, or desire, we remember we have set that aside…and then we remember WHY we have set it aside. Then we have God, and our faith practice in our mind…again! And with our mind on higher things, we can take time to pray, read scripture, do a good work, respond in gratitude for divine love.

Fasting is an excellant spiritual resource, not because there is an inherent good in eating less, but because it returns our focus to the divine, and our relationship to the divine. It reminds us what the source of all good things is!

cheddar
[/quote]

Not only that, but it can actually help us grow in self-knowledge that in turn helps us grow in virtue.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I fast or deprive myself of something I’m used to enjoying on a whim, I find myself getting grouchy. Why is that? It’s because I’m used to having my own way, indulging myself, and when I can’t do it, I get out of sorts. I then have to make an extra effort to not snap at people or lose patience at the little annoyances of life – easier to do when you are well-fed and indulged.

This has two effects. One, it brings me back to reality: no matter how nice a guy I imagine myself to be, it shows me how far I have to go to be a truly patient and detached person. Second, it gives me an opportunity to make myself be charitable and patient when I feel like being anything but. This is how natural virtue, which strengthens the infused virtues we recieve in the graces of the sacraments, are developed.


#6

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