6 – Fasting

Fasting is something not done too often nowadays, especially when compared to prior generations of Christianity.

I envisage that most of the problems regarding meat consumption in the world could be resolved by a return to traditional Catholic fasting, as opposed to most of the other solutions proposed by the world today.

Nevertheless, the Catholic Church currently imposes fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. It also requires abstinence on all other Fridays of the year, although some countries have been granted a dispensation for the Fridays outside of Lent to allow for a substitutionary penance such as prayer, refraining from dessert, etc.

These are the bare minimum imposed on pain of sin, but St Pope Paul VI in his revision of the requirements strongly encouraged Catholics to do more than this minimum, albeit it without it being upon pain of sin any longer.

The Didache is one of the oldest writings of the Church outside of the New Testament, and was written contemporaneously to it. In it, it stipulates that Christians should fast Wednesdays and Fridays. In St John XXIII’s journal, we find a prayer rule he used to guide his life that included fasting on Fridays and Saturdays.

There has been some dispute over Saturday fasting, particularly between the Churches of the East and West. Nevertheless, the pre-Vatican II Church prescribed fasting at various times of the years on each of these days, such as the Ember days of Wednesday, Friday and Saturday to bring in each new season.

A few years ago now I did a program called Exodus 90, which proposed returning to Wednesday and Friday fasting, which I did and greatly benefitted from physically and spiritually. I am working to get back to a regular fasting pattern, and I think others would benefit from this too. Perhaps we could all begin to take steps that were established by our forefathers; not because it is sinful to do so, but out of love for the Lord Jesus Christ.