Pillar No.5: Fasting


In general, Fasting means abstinence from food or drink. Some derive the word from a root whose primary signification means to hold, to keep, to observe or to restrain one’s self. Such abstinence varies according to the measure of restriction circumscribing the use of food and drink. Hence it may denote abstinence from all kinds of food and drink for a given period.

I want to talk some more about Catholic fasting and how The Lord uses it to purge and speak to us. The whole point of this discussion is to go beyond any type of dogma or religious ritual and talk about fasting as a means to penetrating the spiritual world for revelation, deliverance, freedom and a true encounter with the Almighty creator of the heavens and the earth.
Catholic Fasting is a powerful practice that places you face-to-face with the Spirit of the Living God. It ought not be trumpeted to all that you are fasting. It is a very personal and sacred time of prayer, worship and meditation.
A time of reviewing our lives and the challenges we are facing. Catholic fasting is a time when we realize that without Christ himself we are very limited. That HE is and should always be the center and source of our lives in every way, shape and form.
If you reached this page it is because, in some way or another, The Lord may be trying to pull you into an even more intimate relationship with Himself. Christian and Catholic fasting can definitely take you there if you are willing to undergo a little sacrifice. While weight loss is a byproduct of any type of fasting, in this case the main focus is spiritual growth and closeness with God.

Tradition and external religious practices are very positive and give us a sense of spiritual discipline and behavior. The problem is when the external practice becomes the whole end of spirituality in itself, at which point it can be empty and even judgmental and destructive. I love the passage in Matthew 6:16-18 where Jesus clearly speaks about the PROPER and IMPROPER conditions of the heart while fasting. Our Lord says:

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17) But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18) so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.

Catholic fasting is NOT a time to ‘show off’ or to be letting others know of what we are doing ‘to impress’ or to somehow let people know how ‘holy’ or religious we are. As Jesus said, if this is the attitude, then the reaction of other people, in and of itself, will be the ONLY reward that such fasting will produce.
The correct way to fast, Our Lord emphasized, was to take care of our appearance and behavior in such a way as to NOT make what we are doing evident to others. It is the condition of our hearts which God is after, and the TRUE spiritual rewards come when we practice Christian and catholic fasting with humility and reverence before the Living God. What others think, say or do not say is, in truth, irrelevant.

Religion for the sake of religion WITHOUT INTERNAL SUBMISSION AND SPIRITUAL AWARENESS may look good ‘on the outside’, but it produces ZERO results in the human heart, which is – by far – the place where God’s presence, healing and guidance is MOST needed.

I have discovered that catholic fasting is best spent when the emphasis is placed on prayer and reading the Word of God. Bowing our hearts in front of Him who has All power, and allowing Him to cleanse us and empower us to do His Will.
IT’S ALL ABOUT HIM, NOT ME
Catholic fasting as we are discussing here is Not to get God to do what WE want. Rather, it is so that we can become more like Him. That, of course, is not to say that one should not have petitions while fasting or a particular need or challenge that needs God’s intervention.
After all, He is our Father and loves us more than any of us can possibly understand. What I am talking about is people who use fasting as a “spiritual shopping list” without any desire as to what God may want from them, or even giving Him the Glory just because He is who He is.
Everything else should be set aside as you are able. If you are unable to separate yourself for this purpose, then try to maintain a prayerful state-of-mind as you go about your day.

Many Catholic believers tend to believe that fasting is not necessary anymore because in the bible Jesus’ disciples did not fast. Therefore, they say, fasting is a practice from the Old Testament and “does not” apply to present-day individuals. Also, they say, Jesus in various parts of Scripture said the Pharisees that fasted were hypocrites seeking the approval of men. Although Jesus often taught on Fasting (Mark 2:18; Luke 2: 37), and He, Himself, Fasted (Matt. 4:2), He did not insist on it.
He berated the Jewish leaders for talking bad about His disciples for not fasting. So why didn’t they fast then? They did not fast because Jesus was there with them in person. As long as the Son of God was present, there really was not need for fasting. Yet, Jesus said, one day the Bridegroom (Himself) will be taken away and “then they will fast.” I had to become personally convinced that Christian and Catholic Fasting WAS relevant and important. I hope you come to that realization as well!

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