Fasting: Second Key to a Holy Lent
What is fasting? Christian fasting is essentially self-denial — but not for the sake of health, or out of some sense that food or drink is evil. It is self-denial for the Love of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes, I meet people who plan to give up something sinful for Lent — which is good, of course, but we should be renouncing sin and trying to break our sinful habits all the time! Lent is a great time to work on changing our habits, but fasting — True Fasting — has to do with self-denial, mortification, in regard to things which are GOOD, for the sake of something which is BETTER.
The most common forms of fasting involve giving up certain foods, or alcohol, or tobacco (which, if used in moderation, is not wrong in itself — think of the occasional cigar or pipe rather than the pack-a-day use of cigarettes). In the Eastern Catholic Churches, and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Lenten fast is essentially a “vegan” diet, but done for love of Christ, not because of “ethical concerns” about animals. One could also practice discipline in regard to coffee, or desserts (or just chocolate — which is tough for many of us!), or television, or the internet. The important thing with fasting is to recognize that Christ Jesus willingly suffered for love of us, and that we unite ourselves in love to Him by offering some sacrifece as love and reparation for sin (our sins and those of others) back to Him. It is really a practical “giving love back for Love.”
During this holy season of Lent, try to make some real sacrifice of Love for Jesus Christ in the form of Fasting.