Fasting is an ancient form of mortification, commonly accepted as a powerful means of self-discipline, not only in Christianity but also in such other great religions of the world as Islam and Judaism. For Christians,
fasting has a supernatural value because it is one of the recognized forms of penance whereby one atones for one’s sins and humiliates oneself before God in response to the advice St. Peter the Apostle gives, “Humble
yourselves before the mighty hand of God that He may lift you up in season” (1 Pt. 3:6). St. Francis de Sales also notes that: “The soul can never ascend to God unless the body is brought into subjection by penance.Fasting was in the Old Dispensation, one of the great means of making atonement;
it was called “to afflict the soul” (Lv. 16:29) but to be acceptable, it had to be accompanied by sentiments of sorrow for sin and mercy towards others (Is. 58:3-7). Today, fasting is an earnest expression of grief and penance. Our
Lord, fasted forty days and forty nights, to teach his Apostles that certain evil spirits cannot be cast out except by prayer and fasting. As stated by Pope Benedict XVI in his 2009 Lenten message, “The Sacred Scriptures
and the entire Christian tradition teach that fasting is a great help to avoid sin and all that leads to it.” Fasting is proposed to us as an instrument to restore friendship with God. Such was the case with Ezra, who, in preparation for the journey from exile back to the Promised Land, calls upon the assembled people to fast so that “we might humble ourselves before our God” (8, 21). The Almighty heard their prayer and assured them of His favour and protection. In the same way, the people of Nineveh, responding to Jonah’s call to repentance, proclaimed a fast, as a sign
of their sincerity, saying: “Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we perish not?” (3, 9). In this instance, too, God saw their works and spared them. The practice of fasting is very present in the first Christian community (cf. Acts 13:3; 14:22; 27:21; 2 Cor 6:5). The Church
Fathers, too, speak of the force of fasting to bridle sin, especially the lust
of the “old Adam”, and open in the heart of the believer a path to God. Saint Peter Chrysologus writes: “Fasting is the soul of prayer , mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God’s ear to yourself ” (Sermo 43: PL 52, 320. 322). “In our own day”, says the Pope, “fasting seems to have lost something of its spiritual meaning, and has taken on, in a culture characterized by
the search for material well-being, a therapeutic value for the care of one’s body. Fasting certainly brings benefits to physical well-being, but for believers, it is, in the first place, a “therapy” to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God.” St. Peter Chrysologus urges us to “immolate our soul by fasting because we can offer nothing better to God”;
but he also reminds us that the seed of fasting does not germinate unless it is watered by mercy. According to him, “He who prays should also fast and he who fasts should be merciful.” Fasting, prayers and almsgiving form
the triple remedy which work together to purge away sins, cleanse man’s soul, and reconcile him to God. Hence Pope Innocent III in soliciting prayers for the success of the Fourth Lateran Council admonished the entire Catholic faithful as follows: “To your praying add fasting and almsgiving. It is on these wings that our prayers fly the more swiftly and effortlessly to the holy ears of God, that He may mercifully hear us in the time of need.” “Fasting with prayer”, says a Christian writer, “is the most powerful armour that God has given to each member of the body of Christ to overrule, break, surmount, annihilate, destroy and neutralize all power of darkness
of this world and the forces of wickedness of all kinds and categories.” Louis of Grenada O.P says that “Fasting, abstinence and sobriety are meritorious of grace and glory if they are done for the love of God. They also serve as a means of reparation and atonement for sin whereby we can remit a portion of the debt for which we ask pardon each time we recite
the Our Father.” Another benefit to be obtained from abstinence and fasting, says the spiritual writer, is that they help us to acquire wisdom and prudence. St. Basil teaches us thus, “fasting is the guardian of the
soul, the weapon of the strong, the preserver of chastity, strength in battle and a garrison of peace”. St. Peter tells us that as Christ suffered in the flesh, we should also suffer with him, for if we are partakers in His pain,
we shall also share in His glory. Through fasting and praying therefore, we allow God to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God.
Apr 13, 2022 0Last year, Pope Francis wrote the encyclical on the...
Apr 13, 2022 0When the Covid-19 pandemic was declared, schools were...
Feb 23, 2022 0BY IRENE LAMUNU PHOTOS BY R.N. AYAGO “Dear Brothers and sisters, it’s now 75 years since the good news was born in Kasaala. Today we are here to thank God,” were the opening remarks of the Archbishop of Kigali,...
Dec 13, 2021 0After 25 years, this year Fort Portal Diocese will animate Uganda Martyrs’ celebrations in Namugongo. The bishop of Fort Portal Diocese Rt Rev Robert Muhirwa told journalists that on February 14th this year, he...
Oct 06, 2021 0Fasting is an ancient form of mortification, commonly accepted as a powerful means of self-discipline, not only in Christianity but also in such other great religions of the world as Islam and Judaism. For...