Trust in Him

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fasting


"Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."

When Jesus spent forty days in the desert, in fasting and prayer, the devil tempted him to turn a stone into a loaf of bread... and this was the Savior's answer. Why did Jesus fast in the desert? He was preparing Himself, body and soul, for His ministry. He was also setting an example to us to deny ourselves so that we may better partake of heavenly food. During Lent, the Church calls for fasting specifically. She believes that this method of preparation is not only one of the oldest, but also one of the most sacred sacrifices man has to offer God.

Fasting is a form of prayer and penance that brings abundant graces. When one fasts, he abstains from food to dispose his body and soul to give something to God and to receive something from God. When we fast, we do so to recognize that only God fills... only the Bread of Life will bring us sustaining life that will not pass away. Fasting also frees us from ourselves and our gluttonous desires. By denying ourselves of food we discipline our bodies so that they do not dominate our lives, and this frees our spirits to come closer to our Lord. As the Catholic Encyclopedia so brilliantly says: "Every rational creature is bound to labor intelligently for the subjugation of concupiscence."

Fasting does not just have temporal value, however, it has spiritual value as well. In this denial of ourselves, in this giving of ourselves to Christ, we are giving Him an act of love. Fasting also enhances spiritual hunger for Christ through the bodily hunger we experience, disposing us to pray and to receive the sacraments. It gives us the opportunity to be poor in spirit and to apologize for our many faults in a tangible way. Through fasting we obtain strengthening graces that help us in both bodily and spiritual trials. Thus, fasting during Lent is not only a required practice, but one which should desire for our own wellbeing.

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