Fasting is a sharp reminder that there are more important things in life than food. Authentic Christian fasting helps to release us from our attachments to the things of this world. It is often these worldly attachments that prevent us from becoming the-best-version-of-ourselves. Fasting also serves as a reminder that everything in this world is passing and thus encourages us to consider life beyond death.
Go without food for several hours and you quickly realize how truly weak, fragile, and dependent we are. This knowledge of self strips away arrogance and fosters a loving acknowledgement of our utter dependence on God.
One of the main purposes of fasting is to help us become aware of God’s presence in our lives and in the world around us. Fasting also makes us aware of God’s absence in different areas of our lives. Since Jesus–God and man–was already in their presence, the disciples did not need to fast as we do while Jesus was with them.
As with prayer and almsgiving, Jesus calls us to remember that fasting is a spiritual exercise, and as such is primarily an action of the inner life. We do not fast to impress other people. We fast to cultivate the inner life. Fasting should be an occasion of joy, not a cause of sadness. Authentic fasting draws us nearer to God and opens our hearts to receive his many gifts.
You are a delicate composition of body and soul. Fasting is to the body what prayer is to the soul. Indeed, fasting is the prayer of the body, and bodily fasting leads to spiritual feasting.
Copyright © 2010 Beacon Publishing. Used with permission.
You can receive a free copy of Rediscover Catholicism, by Matthew Kelly, as well as explore the other books and resources available from Dynamic Catholic, at DynamicCatholic.com.