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Fasting and Perseverance

Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart
and yield a harvest through perseverance. Luke 8:15

Getting into a fasting routine doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and effort to be able to fast successfully. And it’s better to gradually get into an all day fasting routine. Fasting helps us to persevere; it helps us to grow in faith, hope and charity.

In an interview with Catholic World Report, a few years ago, Bishop Olmsted (Bishop of Phoenix) spoke very highly of fasting:

CWR: You touch on fasting as a tool men can use to overcome sins of impurity. For those less familiar with the role of penance in the spiritual life, what benefits does it offer?

Bishop Olmsted: It has many. First, it has a strong scriptural basis. Christ, for example, began his own public ministry by 40 days of fasting. In another place [Mark 2:19], Jesus was asked why his apostles didn’t fast, and Jesus said, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?” But he added that the days would come when the bridegroom was taken away and then they’d fast. Fasting and other types of penance give us a mastery over our instincts, a control of our passions. We live in a prosperous society that has provides us with so much…too much. Fasting can help us detach ourselves from these things and open ourselves to the Lord and draw us closer to his heart. It’s very counter-cultural, and very helpful to us in the spiritual life.

It’s easy for us to get discouraged, though. In our fast-paced world of overconsumption, it can be difficult to fast, even during Lent One thing that helps is to eat slowly and deliberately. If you’re doing a bread and water fast, chew a small mouthful of bread for 45 to 60 seconds. If you’re eating less food, eat slowly, rather than quickly. This is also difficult because most of us are accustomed to rushing our meals. Remember that digestion begins in the mouth! It is also very helpful to attend Mass on fasting days. Grace comes to us from the bread of life, the Eucharist.

Fasting can seem like an uphill battle. But as G.K. Chesterton once said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”

What if we are “fasting badly?” What if we “give in to temptation?” Let’s remember that most of us don’t fast perfectly, but we are trying, we are persevering and that is why most of us are still fasting!

Let us pray and fast for all the community intentions, for all those who have lost their freedom and for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

Holy Mary, pray for us! Holy Spirit, teach us to pray!

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