The theme I have chosen is "Why I Love Being Catholic".
Definition: When Catholics talk about fasting, we normally mean restricting the food that we eat. We can fast between meals, by not eating snacks, or we can engage in a complete fast by abstaining from all food. It is a traditional doctrine of Christian spirituality that a part of repentance, of turning away from sin and back to God, includes some form of penance.
Bible: Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus teaches "When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.
(take special notice of the word "When" you fast, not "If" you fast...)
Personal: Okay, I don't "Love" this part of being Catholic, but I love what it is calling our hearts to do. Fasting for me isn't too difficult, especially since our Catholic tradition requires us to do this so infrequently, mostly during Lent but also the hour before receiving Holy Communion.
What I do find difficult is not telling anybody that I'm fasting. When I fast, the whole house knows. And when a certain someone isn't fasting like he's supposed do, he gets the evil eye. Or a very snarky, "You know it's Good Friday, right?" as he's about to eat his second large meal of the day!
I remember as I was growing up the many foods my Mom gave up....forever.....for answered prayers. She didn't eat so many of the foods she loved. Grapes, and all sweets, if I remember correctly. She would admit to "cheating" by making her own version of a doughnut out of white bread, butter, and sugar. She came to view this as a real treat. These days, I wonder how many of those denials of real treats were results of the prayers she offered up for me!
I recently gave up peanut butter, Cheez-Its, and Goldfish crackers (my favs) for a year in thanksgiving for an answered prayer. I understand one could look at this as a form of "bribery" with God. It is simply not true. In my heart I did this so that every time I thought of those foods my mind was directed towards God as to why I couldn't have it, I said a prayer of thanksgiving, and as a result, this brought me closer to Him.
Physical denial strengthens our spiritual desire, if done the right way. And fasting need not be restricted to just food. We can fast from hurtful speech, harmful forms of entertainment, and many other things that keep us from being the best persons we can be.
Before writing this post, I emailed one of my brothers to ask if he remembered exactly what foods my Mom gave up. His reply was so spot-on it needed to be posted here.
Great question. I actually forgot mom had done that. She was so amazing and self-sacrificing and non-boasting that she never really announced that she gave them up at the time. I’m sorry I’m not sure what she gave up. It might have been all sweets. Donuts and I think cake….and perhaps candy, cookies, etc.
To read more about the wonderful person who was my Mom, click Here.
For more posts on my A-Z Challenge: Why I Love Being Catholic, click Here.