Is fasting only applied to food?


I'm curious, not just about the requirements of Lent, but about fasting as a voluntary sacrifice. Is it only applied to abstinence from food, or are other abstinences also included? And is there some privileged position to abstinence from food over others?


Yes, when the Church speaks of fasting it means the quantity of food eaten in a day.

Abstinence is not the same as fasting. Abstinence means not eating a particuar kind of food but does not mean restricting the intake of food.


[quote="1ke, post:2, topic:312754"]
Yes, when the Church speaks of fasting it means the quantity of food eaten in a day.

Abstinence is not the same as fasting. Abstinence means not eating a particuar kind of food but does not mean restricting the intake of food.


Is there a specific grace from fasting or abstinence from food that is not associated with other sorts of abstinences or sacrifices?


When you fast the slight hunger is to remind you of the passion of Christ. Abstinence from foods you find pleasurable is particularly helpful to those who struggle with chastity or other indulgent behaviors.


I get that, but is there anything specific to fasting that can’t be gotten by other activities? It’s about the only thing I really hear about, but it’s also very dependent on other circumstances.


We can't fast from meat in my family, having recently given it up. For sure I do not make my favorite type of fishcurry on Friday of Lent as that seems to go against the spirit of fasting. Will be giving up all the foods my sweet tooth aches for: fairy cakes, cookies and chocolate and similar. Also will be limiting my time in internet in favor of reading spiritual books and praying more. Thats my approach but do not know if its the answer that op was looking for :rolleyes:


In my view, a wonderful idea would be to take part in say 40Days for Life or volunteer at local soup kitchen, take up any charitable work, mend ties with family, as well as to fast, in order to bring about a true spiritual conversion. I do not know for you guys but for me conversion consists of daily struggles: Him over Self :D


I believe that it is only reducing the quantity of food that fulfils the obligation to fast on days such as Ash Wednesday and Good Friday...

However, many people do "fast" from other things they enjoy as a form of mortification or penance. I've heard of several people having "media fasts" where they don't watch television or use the computer for a given period of time. This, of course, allows them more time for prayer and reading of spiritually beneficial works, so it becomes a doubly good thing to do.


Thanks. I keep hearing about the benifits of fasting and was looking for alternate ways for those of us that can’t do it.


Dark Light,
I have been thinking about fasting/abstinence a lot lately, with Lent coming.

I typically eat in a way that is now considered "fasting". The nature of my schedule, and the fact that I cook for other people for a living, means that a typical American Breakfast, Lunch & Supper schedule does not work for me. As a matter of fact, I cannot think of the last time I actually ate a **meal, **meaning more than one course/item at one time, sitting down, that was not grabbed in between running from one job to another.

I also typically do eat eat that much meat, as I cannot afford it- same with fish, except maybe for canned tuna. I do lots of pastas, cheeses & veggies, and fortunately, I do sometimes get left-overs from one of my jobs, which is about the only time that I really eat meat, and it it usually because it will get thrown out instead of eaten. :(

So for me, although I am obedient to the "rules", they actually really don't mean anything for me, becasue it's not really any different than how I live the rest of the year. So, a couple years ago, my spiritual director & I came up with a new way for me to customize my fasting/abstinence experience for Lent.

One year, I gave up coffee. For some, not a big deal- for me, I would have rather worn a hairshirt and used a cilice! :eek:

And it was not a lot of fun for the people around me, either! :bigyikes:
I will say though, my coffee drinkg habits are a lot different, and my prayer life is better, because I "sit still" easier.

One year, it was TV. I had a very bad habit of having it on all the time, even if just for background noise. So instead of watching TV, I read a book that my spiritual director suggested and followed a more intense Lenten prayer/retreat program inspired by the Spirtiual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

Again, a very difficult thing for me. It made me realize that I feared the silence, because it was when I was silent that I heard the stirrings of my heart calling me back to God. And that meant looking at how I spent my time. At the end of the day, was my day spent for God's glory or for mine. That was a very sobering Lent. And much good has come from it. I relish the silence now! :D And I make it a point to have at least a half an hour of it every day!!

Sorry to have rambled, but I wanted to give my experience and say that I understand where you are coming from. :)

Peace be with you on your journey!


Oneofthewomen, I definitely get that. I have a very low-cost vegetarian diet to begin with - there's barely any luxuries there simply because I'm flat broke. Plus I just have a lot of problems with eating - I don't eat enough to begin with half the time simply out of not feeling well, plus if my blood sugar drops too low I get nasty migraines.

It came up because of the fasting stuff on the Roe v. Wade anniversary. I really wanted to take part but I just couldn't think of anything to do!


The Holy Father gave a wonderful message for Lent of 2009 that concentrates heavily on the concept and object of fasting:

I particularly liked this paragraph, which indicates clearly that fasting is not just about food:

From what I have said thus far, 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: “Utamur ergo parcius, / verbis cibis et potibus, / somno, iocis et arctius / perstemus in custodia – Let us use sparingly words, food and drink, sleep and amusements. May we be more alert in the custody of our senses.”


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