Thursday, March 3, 2011

Why Do I Have to Fast During Lent?

Lent is less than a week away and it is time to start preparing ourselves for the Lenten traditions:
-          Meatless Fridays
-          Fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday
-          Giving up something

Every Lent I get asked the customary questions:
-          Why do I have to fast during Lent?
-          Why does Jesus care if I eat meat on Friday?  
-          Who even came up with the idea of fasting?

Let’s turn to some people smarter than us for the answers.

History of Fasting
“Fasting originated as a way of saving money on food, so that Christians could give it to the poor. It had a practical end: no meat for you meant more money for those who couldn't afford meat. Giving things up also reminds you that you don't always have to give into your appetites. It reminds you of your ability to exert self-control. And it reminds you of the poor, who go without every day.”
Father James Martin, S.J.
Catholic Author

Why We Fast
“Fasting is a powerful way to stand in solidarity with those who suffer … and to imitate the suffering of Jesus Christ. Fasting also provides an opportunity to seriously examine our own hearts and seek conversion.”
Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Denver
Who, When, and How do We Fast
Ash Wednesday (3/9) and Good Friday (4/22) are days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. According to Church law, Catholics older than the age of 14 are supposed to abstain from meat. In addition, those between the ages of 18 and 59, not including pregnant or nursing mothers, should eat only one full meal. Smaller amounts of food—not as much as a full meal—may be eaten in the morning and either at lunchtime or dinner, depending on when you eat your full meal.
Summary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church