Bringing you the "Good News" of Jesus Christ and His Church While PROMOTING CATHOLIC Apologetic Support groups loyal to the Holy Father and Church's magisterium
Home About
AskACatholic.com
What's New? Resources The Church Family Life Mass and
Adoration
Ask A Catholic
Knowledge base
AskACatholic Disclaimer
Search the
AskACatholic Database
Donate and
Support our work
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
New Questions
Cool Catholic Videos
About Saints
Disciplines and Practices
back
Purgatory and Indulgences
About the Holy Mass
About Mary
Searching and Confused
Homosexual Issues
Life and Family
No Salvation Outside the Church
Sacred Scripture
non-Catholic Cults
Justification and Salvation
The Pope and Papacy
The Sacraments
Relationships and Marriage situations
Specific people, organizations and events
Doctrine and Teachings
Specific Practices
Church Internals
Church History


Juan Antonio wrote:

Hi, guys—

I have a few questions about Lent:

  1. Is there a specific description on how we should fast?
    e.g. nothing but water all day long, something light in some part of the day. I don't know.

    Jesus said somewhere in the Gospel (around Matthew 6) that when we fast, no one else should know what we are doing (only our Father who sees in secret).
  • What about those people in the work place who you can't seem to get off your back?
  • There will always be someone out there who pops the question: "Are you fasting? "
  1. What do I do?

Thanks in advance!

Juan

  { How should we fast during Lent and how do we handle those people who ask us if we are fasting? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Juan —

You said:

  1. Is there a specific description on how we should fast?
    e.g. nothing but water all day long, something light in some part of the day.
    I don't know.

From The Catechism

V. The Many Forms Of Penance In Christian Life

1434 The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others. Alongside the radical purification brought about by Baptism or martyrdom they cite as means of obtaining forgiveness of sins: effort at reconciliation with one's neighbor, tears of repentance, concern for the salvation of one's neighbor, the intercession of the saints, and the practice of charity "which covers a multitude of sins."

1435 Conversion is accomplished in daily life by gestures of reconciliation, concern for the poor, the exercise and defense of justice and right, by the admission of faults to one's brethren, fraternal correction, revision of life, examination of conscience, spiritual direction, acceptance of suffering, endurance of persecution for the sake of righteousness. Taking up one's cross each day and following Jesus is the surest way of penance.

1436 Eucharist and Penance. Daily conversion and penance find their source and nourishment in the Eucharist, for in it is made present the sacrifice of Christ which has reconciled us with God. Through the Eucharist those who live from the life of Christ are fed and strengthened. "It is a remedy to free us from our daily faults and to preserve us from mortal sins."

1437 Reading Sacred Scripture, praying the Liturgy of the Hours and the Our Father - every sincere act of worship or devotion revives the spirit of conversion and repentance within us and contributes to the forgiveness of our sins.

1438 The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church's penitential practice. These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works).

1439 The process of conversion and repentance was described by Jesus in the parable of the prodigal son, the center of which is the merciful father: the fascination of illusory freedom, the abandonment of the father's house; the extreme misery in which the son finds himself after squandering his fortune; his deep humiliation at finding himself obliged to feed swine, and still worse, at wanting to feed on the husks the pigs ate; his reflection on all he has lost; his repentance and decision to declare himself guilty before his father; the journey back; the father's generous welcome; the father's joy - all these are characteristic of the process of conversion. The beautiful robe, the ring, and the festive banquet are symbols of that new life - pure worthy, and joyful - of anyone who returns to God and to the bosom of his family, which is the Church. Only the heart Of Christ Who knows the depths of his Father's love could reveal to us the abyss of his mercy in so simple and beautiful a way.

You said:

Jesus said somewhere in the Gospel (around Matthew 6) that when we fast, no one else should know what we are doing (only our Father who sees in secret).

  • What about those people in the work place who you can't seem to get off your back?

I wouldn't worry about them, just ignore them and remember what Our Lord said about those that persecute you...(your reward is in Heaven)

You said:

  • There will always be someone out there who pops the question: "Are you fasting? "
  1. What do I do?

Great, this gives you the chance to explain the Catholic Christian faith. 1 Peter 3:15 states:

15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, 16 but do it with gentleness and reverence

The answer to give is:

During Lent, Catholics in the United States abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and on all the Fridays of the season. They fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. They are encouraged to continue the fast on Holy Saturday as well, in union with those preparing for baptism. On a fast day, people eat only one full meal; they may also eat two partial meals and should not snack between any of them.

The laws of fast and abstinence may vary from one country to another; however, they accomplish the same goals.

They help us imitate the example of Jesus, who fasted 40 days to prepare for his ministry.

They help us display our common repentance. More than declaring our personal desire for conversion of heart, they strengthen our community by expressing our corporate sorrow for social sin.

They teach us a detachment from passions and turn our hearts more toward God and less toward food.

They make us more disciplined and more charitable.

The purpose of fast and abstinence, then, is not to punish us but to make us more loving, more prayerful, more detached from whatever may keep us from God.

Fasting becomes more spiritually effective when sustained by other practices such as prayer, charity, and almsgiving. The prayers at Mass during Lent presume that the community is supporting its prayer with fasting and its fasting with prayer.

Everyone age 14 and older is bound by the law of abstinence. Younger children are to be educated in its significance. Other Catholics are expected to avoid meat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent no matter how old they become. However, fasting binds from after one's 18th birthday until after the 59th. Catholics younger and older than that need not fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Nonetheless, fasting is a praiseworthy penitential practice, even when it is not required.

Throughout the year Catholics fast from food and drink one hour before sharing Communion.

Hope this helps,

Mike

Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
Suggestions for this web page and the web site can be sent to Mike Humphrey
© 2012 Panoramic Sites
The Early Church Fathers Church Fathers on the Primacy of Peter. The Early Church Fathers on the Catholic Church and the term Catholic. The Early Church Fathers on the importance of the Roman Catholic Church centered in Rome.