Fasting Tips


It would be interesting to know how others successfully remain in obedience to the Church in matters of fasting and mortification. The post Vatican II rules became more relaxed as far as the meat issue goes, but how does one go about truly fasting as a means of sacrifice and self denial. Mortification of the appetites is really a lost art these days. We didn’t hear one word about it growing up with 12 years of Catholic education during the late 1960s and 70s… Ideas anyone? :shrug:


Well… rule #1 is: don’t overdue it. You really shouldn’t fast more than maybe one day a week without a spiritual director overseeing you. And, a “fast” can be something like just bread and water.

Basically, if you’re feeling a little bit deprived, you’re doing it right. If you’re endangering your health, you’re doing it wrong.

If you break a fast and feel guilty about it, you’re doing it wrong. (It’s OK to feel a bit abashed or sheepish that your resolution to fast only lasted as long as it took for a coworker to bring in donuts. It’s not OK to beat yourself up over it.)

I think you’re supposed to start small. And, it shouldn’t ever interfere with the happiness of other people. If you are going out to eat for someone’s birthday, smile and eat and enjoy your meal. Have a piece of cake, too. Unless it’s Ash Wednesday or Good Friday, in which case you can just say “Well, I have to obey cannon law” and try to be discrete about it.

The rule for Fridays is that we’re supposed to do some form of penance. I personally find abstaining from meat to be the easiest way to do it - much better than worrying about whether or not it’s “enough” to do something else.


I fast very occasionally until dinner, with the fast broken somewhat with vegetable and/or fruit juice (and water).

I have noticed that fasting moderates concupiscence that day and for a few days afterwards, so it is something I should probably be doing more of myself, but I want to echo HOPEFUL_IN_UK and say don’t do anything to endanger your health. Diabetics should check with their doctors.

Some traditional views on fasting:

We read in Genesis that it was by eating that we entered Satan’s dominion. May fasting help us to leave it!


I don’t know if this still hold but I once heard anything that can be taken by a straw is considered a liquid

I am not saying it is true, it is just something I was once told …It seems like it could be abused…what if you decided to drink a malted?..I don’t know I am not much of a faster ,except during lent


Is your question specifically about Ash Wednesday or Good Friday, or just fasting in general? Because if it’s just fasting in general, then you get to make your own rules.

I’m not sure if a protein smoothie or malted is OK on Ash Wednesay/Good Friday or not. You can have one regular meal and then two partial meals (not to equal more than a meal combined.) I would think that a protein smoothie would make an ideal partial meal.


I am not able to totally fast without getting ill. My DH can go without any food or water for an entire day with nothing more than a bit of fatigue. I, on the other hand, would have horrible blood sugar issues, even though I am not diabetic.

If I follow the rules and have the two very small meals, mostly of protein, during the day, and drink milk, then I can fast a bit. If I do any less than that it just turns into a horrible and scary experience that totally takes away from any spiritual benefit - for me at least.

So - short story for me is just be healthy whatever you decide to do. Don’t push yourself too far. It’s penance, not torture.



The fasts of the Byzantine tradition are quite strict, but because of diabetes and other medical issues, I simply cannot observe them any more.

In fact, I’ve been directed not even to observe the traditional Eucharistic fast from midnight (as I used to for decades).

So I do what I can (usually avoiding meat during the principal fasts and on Wednesday and Friday), and take my meds as an act of obedience to God, with the attitude that THIS is the asceticism He desires of me.


nobody ever passed a law that says one cannot fast and abstain according to the traditional practice, so what is stopping you? or me, or anyone for that matter. A person who is diabetic, pregnant or nursing, ill, or infirm because of old age was never bound by the law anyhow. If one cannot fast from food because of illness, there are plenty of other sacrifices one can make, so that is not an excuse for failure to do penance. Generally when one is ill or infirm, that alone supplies plenty of opportunity for mortification and penance without going out and looking for it.


Background to following OPINIONS. I am age 64, so not required to fast. I do so anyhow, BUT only with permission of myPhysician, and she gave me strict guidelines to follow. One should also consult your spiritual Director.

Now as a member of the CFP, I fast frequently, but here is the golden rule for us penitents…

“8c. The amount of food eaten on fast days will be particular to the individual penitent who should feel hungry but not debilitated, drowsy, or ill. The penitent should consult a spiritual director, confessor, or, if needed, a physician regarding the amount of food to be eaten.”

Got that? The days when St. Francis was allowed to die of malnutrician are over. :frowning: Our bodies are Temples of the Holy Spirit, not to be damaged. Being hungry at times is OK, and you will be amazed at how soon it doesn’t bother you once you get over “the hump”. But starvation is out, and so is malnutrician.:mad:

The current fasting rules of the Church are one moderate meal and two smaller snacks. That is what I follow. Due to my being a shift worker, I eat only two meals a day…dinner and supper, or lunch and dinner. Dinner is the big meal, the other is the collation. :thumbsup:

I avoid over-fasting due to the danger of spiritual pride. I try to remember that Jesus wanted us to fast without making a big show of it. None of my coworkers needs to know about my fasting. If I refuse a snack or treat, I just say I am on a diet. Which is true enough in its way.:rolleyes:

Again, talk it over with your Spiritual Director and Physician. If they give you the go-ahead, start moderately. Best wishes from me and my cats.

(My cats do not fast. I value an unpunctured skin)


What I learned this past Ash Wednesday is that if you feel a bad headache coming on from lack of food, it’s okay to take an Excedrin and that does not break the fast or count as a “partial or small meal” … according to a priest I spoke to. In my case, I didn’t take the Excedrin. This led to me getting a migraine and having to go home sick from work (really I shouldn’t have even been driving at that point).

~~ the phoenix


My own opinion (and it is only that) is that a bad headache is reason enough to break off the fast altogether and consume some nourishing food. :coffeeread:


Good point. Actually, you agree with my priest. After what he told me in my post above, he went on to say that if someone is sick from lack of food (such as reacting with a migraine), at that point, food becomes medicine and is allowed.

I suppose this shows that I still feel tempted to tough things out. Or else, I don’t want to encourage anyone else to be too lax and use what I post as an excuse to go the other way and be more lenient than the Church would want. One reason being, I grew up reading all these stories of the saints who went to extremes with fasting and penances, and for their troubles … They ended up in heaven, so they must’ve done something right? :confused:

~~ the phoenix


But that was then, this is now. Back then, much of that over-fasting smacks of spiritual pride. St. Francis and many others essentially died from malnutritian.:frowning:

Nowadays, our bodies are Temples Of The Holy Spirit, and it may be that some have to swallow their pride and accept that respecting the Temple comes before the spiritual pride of fasting more and better then others. It is a subtle temptation, to be sure.:o

The fact that age 64 I can still fast is a GRACE. And it remains up to me to work together with my Physician and Spiritual Director to keep it within spiritualy healthy bounds:blush:


As to the saints of old, who always seemed to be battling their spiritual directors who called for moderation, in a thread on the topic about a year or so ago I was relieved that the consensus seemed to be that the saint and his or her disagreeing spiritual director both were right … That God calls some people to sacrifice more than others.

As for your fasting at age 64, yes it IS a grace. :slight_smile: Am not sure if I will fast if I reach 64.

With me I think it’s more a matter of scruples than spiritual pride. I still wonder about the time I added sugar to black coffee on a day of fast, whether the sugar counted as a “small meal.” A relative told me I was being ridiculous because almost any kind of drink on the planet contains sugar. But in my case, I was the one who had chosen to add it …

There are other types of mortification not involving health or age at all, such as not listening to the radio in the car.

~~ the phoenix


*Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed art Thou among women and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen. *

Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well beloved spouse. Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well beloved spouse. Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well beloved spouse.

How about prayer, the most Holy Rosary is the hardest prayer to say well because (1) it is repetitive and (2) it is an extremely powerful weapon against the enemy and so one is plagued with temptations while saying it. St. Padre Pio, who only slept about 2 hours a night some nights, suffered stigmata, and sometimes at only communion - extreme fasting - also prayed the most Holy Rosary repeatedly. According to Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, President of Human Life International, St. Padre Pio would say as many as 90 rosaries in a day in a special form for which he received ecclesiastical permission. Here is the article that cites this: **The Rosary Batters the Gates of Hell **

Some of St. Padre Pio’s quotes on prayer: * “The Rosary is The WEAPON” “Prayer is the best weapon we have; it is the key to God’s heart.” “Pray the Rosary frequently. It costs so little and it’s worth so much.” “The one who prays a lot saves himself. The one who prays little is in danger. The one who does not pray loses his soul.” *

If one has to limit the amount of fasting due to spiritual guidance, maybe one can instead spend the time devoted to the Blessed Sacrament and Sacred Heart of Jesus in the method recommended by Father John Croisut in Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus or in prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the method recommend by St. Louis Mary de Montfort in True Devotion to Mary and Secret of the Rosary

May we and this thread bring glory to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary!! May we be gifted by the Holy Spirit through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mediatrix of all graces!! Jesus, I trust in you!!!

Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well beloved spouse. Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well beloved spouse. Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well beloved spouse.

*Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed art Thou among women and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen. *

Devoting oneself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin
Secret of the Rosary
**Preparation for 33 day consecration to the Blessed Virgin **
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of



I have had problems with scruples and my priest says that scrupulosity is pride.


If you have a priest in your parish… who seems especially spiritual… I think it would be a good idea to ask his advice on the subject of fasting.

But, I would be happy to share my own “method”. When fasting, I will usually fast (water, alone) from sundown the previous day… to the Hour of Mercy (3:00 p.m., when Our Blessed Lord gave up His Spirit)… the next day.

Then, I have one meal (usually, meatless).

I don’t know where I got this. I can’t remember if I read it somewhere… or what. But it works for me. I’m not one of those strong people… who can fast round the clock.:o


After reading most of the posts here, I was taken aback to learn that St. Francis died of malnutrition!:eek: Is this true? I only read that he was ill and died with no mention of malnutrition. (Legend also has it that his donkey cried when he died. I believe it!)

My take on fasting: I’m 66 (chronologically, it’s only a number you know) but I fast anyway. I normally have soy protein mixed in milk in the morning, then a lunch and a lite snacking for dinner. However, I have a huge array of nutritional supplements.:wink: I also read somewhere that one can drink wine when fasting because it has no nutritional value. Is that right? (I don’t but I’m wondering).:confused:

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