The Power of Lenten Fasting

Christians attribute great effectiveness to fasting. It keeps us alert, awakens our sensitivity to God, allows us to know ourselves, and makes us more mindful of others’ needs. Fasting is considered an effective means of confronting pride, gluttony, and impurity, and serves as a tangible form of penance and expiation. In the quest for spiritual growth and self-knowledge, fasting, especially during Lent, is a time-honored practice.

When we fast, we abstain from food or other goods, not merely as a ritual, but as a means of preparing the soul and creating a sacred space for God. It is a conscious act of self-discipline that helps us resist temptation and overcome sin. The experience of hunger fosters both greater sensitivity for others’ needs and greater appreciation for what we have.

The biblical roots of fasting underscore its connection to prayer, emphasizing the seeking of God's will. It transforms the time typically devoted to meals into moments of spiritual reflection and communion with the divine – and one of the assumptions of fasting is that what we deny ourselves we give to those in need.

Fasting during Lent is not only a religious obligation, but an opportunity for self-reflection, spiritual renewal, and deeper conformity to the teachings of Christ. Approaching this practice intentionally and with a genuine understanding of its spiritual goals can lead to a more profound Lenten experience, preparing individuals to celebrate Easter with a purified heart and a strengthened connection to God.

Each year, the Pope announces a message to the faithful that highlights some important element of Lent. This year, part of that message is a call to pause:

"It is time to act, and in Lent, to act also means to pause. To pause in prayer, in order to receive the word of God, to pause like the Samaritan in the presence of a wounded brother or sister. Love of God and love of neighbor are one love. Not to have other gods is to pause in the presence of God beside the flesh of our neighbor. For this reason, prayer, almsgiving and fasting are not three unrelated acts, but a single movement of openness and self-emptying, in which we cast out the idols that weigh us down, the attachments that imprison us. Then the atrophied and isolated heart will revive."
-Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for Lent 2024

Fasting is a way of pausing to open ourselves to the Word of God. In this act we can cast off the idols that bind our lives and allow our hearts to revive. Only when we empty our hands are we ready to receive something new into them. So let's take care to cleanse our hearts so that they are ready for the graces with which God wants to fill our lives at Easter.

Br. ?ukasz Pasich, O.P. | Meet the Brothers in Formation HERE