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Fr. Bob at pulpit during Easter Vigil

Fast in Order to Pray (Fasting Part 2)

Jesus was quite ready, not only to call for it, but to explain it. One day, some of John the Baptist’s disciples put a question to him about it. “Why is it,” they asked, “that, while both we and the Pharisees fast, your disciples do not?” Jesus’ response gives us the clue we’re looking for. “But surely the wedding guests would not fast,” as he replied, “as long as the bridegroom was with them. As long as he is present, they would not fast. The day will come, however, when the bridegroom is taken away from them. On that day they will fast.” (Mark 2:18:20)

So that’s it, then. The purpose of fasting is to be in touch with the bridegroom. When we fast, we are able to be in better communication with the Lord. We do not fast in order to fast. We fast in order to pray. All other things being equal, prayer is more effective when accompanied by a fast than it is without it.

"Father Slavko Barbaric, OFM, of Medjugorie, puts it this way in his book, Fasting: 'Fasting will lead us to new freedom of heart and mind. By fasting, we detach our hearts from the good things that tie us to the affairs of this world.'"

In our day, fasting has largely gone out of fashion. Outside the context of trying to lose weight, most people simply do not fast.

Many will be able to remember when fasting was mandated by the Church. During the weekdays of Lent, all Catholics between the ages of 21 and 65 were enjoined to fast. The instructions form Church authorities were to the effect that one full meal a day was allowed with two meals of lesser quantity which together amounted to less than the big one. My strategy was to make sure to include one whopper of a meal each day so that the other two could be of more or less regular size and the pangs of hunger could be starved off. I’m not too sure how meritorious my fasting was. At any rate, when the fasting rules were lifted, that was the end of it for me. I suspect I wasn’t the only one.

I think we can probably do better than that. If we are serious about growing in our relationship with the Lord, we will have to include some fasting.

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