Dear Friends in Christ,
Many people simply cannot understand the whole concept and behavior of fasting. They think, "Why in the world would anyone want to deprive themselves of food, or at least a decreased amount of food during one's day"? During the Lenten period, Catholics imitate Christ's own fasting for forty days in the desert and His resistance to the temptations of Satan that He encountered in the desert. When we humbly imitate Christ in our own self-denial, we purify our hearts, and our heavenly Father is pleased with us. Our souls receive spiritual benefits when we refrain from a variety of food, drink, and other negative temptations.
When Catholics fast during Lent, we do so as a willing penance for our offenses against God. We go beyond simply asking for forgiveness in our prayers or through the Sacrament of Penance. If we feel that little hunger pain by eating twice a day instead of three (or more) times a day. . . we can offer up that discomfort and share in Christ's suffering, thus helping our souls a little bit more as well.
The glory of these forty days
We celebrate with songs of praise;
For Christ, by whom all things were made,
Himself fasted and has prayed.
Alone and fasting Moses saw
The loving God who gave the law;
And to Elijah, fasting, came
The steeds and chariots of flame.
Then grant that we like them be true,
Consumed in fast and prayer with you;
Our spirits strengthen with your grace,
And give us joy to see Your face.
Hymn, The Magnificat, February 27, 2009, p. 371
Today, Lord, grant me Thy grace to fast in a way that is pleasing to You.
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