Stop criticizing fasting, please


#1

Every Lent we get bombarded with messages in parish bulletins, religious newspapers, and sermons, about how fasting is less important than lots of other things. We hear about supposedly we have to choose between fasting and loving people. Or there are exhortations “don’t give up chocolate, give up gossip” or whatever.

Sometimes there is almost a stereotype presented, of the prim and proper Catholic, who considers fasting (and purity) important, contrasted with the renewed, loving Catholic.

The reality is that we know from the Christian tradition that our bodies, minds, and souls are connected. We remember the Incarnation, and the Person who fasted before we did, even while we avoid hypocritical fasting He condemned.


#2

Counting my blessings that in our little nook of the world, fasting is still fasting. As the bulletin lady for our parish, I promise you no squishy articles (we are so busy with events that there is not space for articles anyway!)


#3

These people who devalue fasting are fighting against a standard that really no longer exists. Very few people have any sort of corporal discipline here in the decadent West where we can get pretty much whatever we want whenever. God knows most Americans can use some fasting.


#4

I have never heard that… I’ve always heard priests expressing the importance of fasting.

I wish they stressed it more, because I never developed fasting habits when I was younger, so I’m basically starting from scratch as an adult. I definitely think we lost something when we got rid of mandatory fasts throughout the year.


#5

I’ve never gotten the impression that the value of fasting was being diminished. I think there has been a push to make it more meaningful. A lot of times I have heard people, and have said myself, that I would give up something like a favorite food with the idea that it would be good for my health along with “giving something up for Lent”.
I had neglected the spiritual aspect of using this opportunity to work on something that was separating me from God. I was just checking a box. It was only until later in life that I began to realize the purpose and have found things to give up that will be of spiritual benefit.


#6

Never have heard that. However, adding the importance of moral/spiritual issues does not, IMO, “devalue” physical fasting. Both are important.


#7

“We” do? I think you are speaking only for yourself. This is not my experience.


#8

Matthew 17:21 Jesus warned certain demons are only defeated by prayer and fasting


#9

Fasting is good for spiritual health and for physical health.

We really need to get away from the habit of perma snacking that a lot of Americans have.

The constant presence of insulin as a result of snacking all the time can lead to insulin insensitivity a precursor to diabetes which is now an epidemic.


#10

To a certain extent, I thing some believe that giving something up is superior to taking on more responsibility.
Giving up food as opposed to serving some people who are in need of foot.
Fasting is great, but buying a homeless person a meal is just as great.


#11

Thank you for starting this thread, OP. I was thinking the exact same thing the last couple days, after having been bombarded with similar sentiments last year. I get tired of the priests always seeming to talk to the lowest common denominator. brace%20yourselves%20lent%20meme


#12

To be fair I have to say that the priest this morning, who happened to be a very scholarly member of an order who teaches at the Catholic university nearby, gave a decent homily that managed to tie together fasting, penance, and building our relationship with God. He did not talk down to the congregation, and probably has better skills at homiletics than the average parish priest or deacon who pitches his subject matter more on the level of a Matthew Kelly book.


#13

THANK YOU.
The reality is, for at least we westerns, we are gluttonous. Fasting is a good way of self-denial to help with this sin.


#14

I am not one to question the Holy Father himself


#15

We should be doing all of those anyway, everyday, and it shouldn’t end after Lent is over
Fasting is different. It’s for 40 days, not everyday


#16

The difference between Pope Francis’ advice and a food fast is that we’re supposed to be doing those things he says EVERY day of the year, not just during Lent.

It doesn’t hurt to be reminded of it at Lent time, and it might be good for a person to pick out one or two of those things and work on them as a Lent project, if for example they find themselves having a regular issue with anxiety or grudges. I know a few years ago I tried to work on forgiving my enemies for Lent. But you don’t just “fast from hurting words” for 40 days and then back to your normal unkindness.

There is also nothing penitential about just acting like you’re supposed to be acting in the first place. The penitential aspect of Lent is important, and some kind of self-mortification is usually involved. Being prayerful, kind, patient etc are good things but they aren’t self-mortification.


#17

Thank you! I’ve been trying to find the words for a good counter to that image that’s been floating around and you’ve said it better than I ever could!


#18

Actually, sometimes they are. Being patient with someone who annoys you, kind to someone who has wronged you – according to the saints, these can indeed be important self-mortifications. And trying to be more mindful of these things during Lent is entirely appropriate.


#19

I have long said that there is no such thing as fasting without taking on something. It’s kind of an interaction of physical and spiritual “physics”.

Some people fast from food and take on grumpiness and irritability. The net outcome here is not what we ought to be aiming for by fasting.

When fasting from food it is better to take on something positive to replace whatever the spiritual hole was that we were filling up with food.


#20

I didn’t say it was inappropriate, but I myself don’t think it’s a very good penance unless it’s some kind of long-term situation you can’t escape, like having to care for an angry, demanding elderly parent for years.

If someone cuts me off in traffic and I restrain myself from being impatient and yelling, and instead offer the inconvenience up to God, that’s a good thing. If I am mindful of this fault during Lent, that’s also a good thing. But I don’t think it’s much of a penance, especially during Lent, to just say, “I’m going to offer up every time somebody cuts me off in traffic and I won’t get angry.” Because it’s a momentary thing and ti’s also like I said, what we should be doing every day anyway, not something extra I’m doing to observe Lent. That is just my opinion and someone else is free to do something different if it brings them personally closer to God.


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