FASTING: This is true fasting
by Joseph of Jesus and Mary
Work of God Apostolate
6:17 But you, when you fast anoint your head, and wash your face;
18 That you appear not to men to fast, but to your Father who
is in secret: and your Father who sees in secret, will repay you.
Fasting is a very powerful
way to obtaining control of our will, this mortification will be rewarded if it is done in
secret. Many people fast but let everyone know that they are fasting, they already had
their reward says the Lord.
Fasting purifies our
bodies by clearing our bodies from toxins and giving rest to our digestive system, while
at the same time our souls become more detached of the needs of the body, therefore giving
more freedom to the spirit within us. The spiritual person then is more inclined to the
things of the Spirit, he or she will feel more open to prayer and prayer will bring us
closer to God.
Catholic Church calls us to fast on Ash Wednesday and other holy days
during Lent, However fasting is of no
spiritual benefit if we don't combine it with sincere prayer and love to our
Fasting for the benefit of the body only, has nothing to do with the fasting that leads to
repentance and a change of heart. Fasting is associated with the anguish of knowing our
sinful nature and with the desire to be cleansed. Our Father in Heaven will reward us for
the intentions of our hearts.
Fasting is very
important in the spiritual life because it removes the desires of our
carnality. Physical fasting of the stomach and fasting or denial to
satisfy the hunger of our senses is highly important.
Now, this is true
fasting: Not to watch TV to satisfy our idleness, not to participate
in sports and activities that steal the time we have allotted to
prayer, not to eat beyond what the body really needs, not to
participate in worldly conversations, etc.
Another type of
fasting that is definitely true fasting is to go out of our way to
help someone in need. To fast is also the time that we dedicate
faithfully to prayer because it takes away our time so that we can
offer it to God.
And the Holy
Bible tells us:
6 This is the fast that I love," says the Lord, loose the bands of
wickedness, undo the bundles that oppress, let them that are broken
go free, and break asunder every burden.
7 This is true fasting, deal your bread to the hungry, and bring the
needy and the harbourless into your house: when you see one naked,
cover him, and despise not your own flesh.
Saint Augustine says:
Fundamentally, fasting is not a question of the stomach but of the
Saint John Chrysostom says: "Besides fasting with your mouth, you
must fast by not saying anything that could harm anyone else. After all,
what good is it for you to abstain from meat if you devour your
brother?" That is true fasting....
Isaiah 58:4 Behold you fast only to quarrel and to
fight and to strike with the fist wickedly. Do not fast as you have done until this day,
to make your cry to be heard on high.
5 Is this such a fast as I have chosen: for
a man to afflict his soul for a day? is this it, to wind his head about like a circle, and
to spread sackcloth and ashes? wilt you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the
6 Is not this rather the fast that I have
chosen? loose the bands of wickedness, undo the bundles that oppress, let them that are
broken go free, and break asunder every burden.
7 Share your bread with the hungry, and
bring the needy and the harbourless into your house: when you shalt see one naked, cover
him, and despise not your relatives.
10 When you shall pour out your soul to the
hungry, and shalt satisfy the afflicted soul then shall your light rise up in darkness,
and your darkness shall be as the noonday.
The idea of fasting is not
to present ourselves to God with a hungry stomach and a weak body, so that He will feel
sorry for us, but to enable us to become more spiritual, so that our thoughts, words and
actions are more pleasant to Him.
What truly pleases the
Lord is that we abstain from being nasty to other people, that we stop oppressing them,
that we stop all harassment and bad will.
Almsgiving is most
meritorious, visiting the sick, giving food to the hungry, helping the handicapped,
assisting those with mental disabilities, counselling those in distress, helping anyone in
need and caring for every one in general. We should help not just our friends and
relatives who will pay back, but all the people that we meet in our path.
The Lord says that we are
the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), but if our light is
darkness, then we are not doing a very good job.
We are supposed to shine
with the light of peace and gentleness, kindness and understanding, counsel and wisdom,
knowledge and fear of God, piety and witnessing of God's love for us.
We can start by displaying
a beautiful smile on our faces as a sign of God's Presence, we must bring the joy of God
in our hearts to others, they must be affected by the goodness of God in our hearts.
People must react nicely to our presence and to our conversation and dealings with them
since we are light of Christ shining everywhere we go.
We must treat others as we
would like them to treat us: with respect, dignity, kindness and understanding.
Positive attitudes promote
peace, love and joy, they relate firstly to our closest relatives, but they affect the
whole world. Affirmative response to the following questions may improve our lives and the
lives of others and will give us food for our spiritual fasting.
Do I smile to every person that I talk to?
Do I become concerned about the other person's problems?
Do I treat others respectfully?
Do I answer the phone with a smiling voice or do I sound unapproachable?
Do I acknowledge people or do I intentionally ignore them?
Do I at least nod my head in acceptance of people?
Do I try to please other people?
Do I try to make others' lives better by my encounter with them?
Do people experience peace when I talk to them?
Do I make people smile?
Am I truly pleasant?
Do I pray for others?
Negative attitudes create
a bad atmosphere which indicates our spiritual weaknesses. By working to overcome the
negative in our lives, we can fast spiritually and bring peace, kindness, love and and joy
Am I irritable and
Am I impatient? Am I rude? Am I proud ?
Am I insincere ? Am I deceitful? Am I irritable?
Am I too fussy? Am I inconsiderate ? Am I imprudent?
Am I abusive?
Do I stare with contempt or disapproval of people who are doing wrong? Am I judgmental?
Am I impulsive? Do I become angry very easily?
Do I run away from someone who needs help?
Do I take advantage of opportunities that may hurt someone?
Do I abuse my authority?
Do I make others feel unimportant?
Am I always late for my appointments?
Do I always have to excuse my self because I know I am not doing the right thing?
Do I make people feel bad because I show off?
Do I pay my bills late?
Am I irresponsible?
Am I a terror on the road, do I drive like a maniac?
Do I drink and drive?
Am I discourteous? Am I disloyal? Am I a traitor?
Do I criticize people? Do I condemn them?
Do I practice the " I don't care attitude"?
Am I nice only to those who are nice to me?
Am I not talking to any one in particular because we had an argument or because I don't
like that person?
Do I hate anyone? Have I ever cursed anyone?
Am I too severe with my "nearest and dearest'?
Do I practice what I preach?
Am I light on the outside but darkness on the inside?
Do I act dishonestly?
Am I always to busy to help anyone?
Do I care that when I smoke I affect the lives of others?
Do I get drunk and upset people?
Am I too noisy?
Do I annoy people with my actions?
Let us go back and read,
meditate and do something to improve ourselves, this is the fasting that pleases the Lord
Fasting with the senses
Our senses are doors to our souls. Every activity of the senses is registered by the mind
which takes what is good or bad directly into our souls.
Let us praise God for
having giving us all the senses with all their marvelous abilities, but let us not become
too sensual that we forget that we are spiritual beings, sons and daughters of God.
The senses are wonderful
gifts of God that we can use for our satisfaction and joy, but we must not allow them to
rule our lives.
Our sense of vision especially keep our minds occupied and supply more
than the information we require to live our normal spiritual lives. We should fast with
our eyes avoiding unnecessary entertainment, such as television which is the greatest mean
for our souls to embrace the world. Watching immoral pictures, immoral people or
pornography are definite ways of putting our souls in danger because they stimulate our
sexuality and lead us to mortal sin.
Becoming very fussy about
beauty as defined by ourselves, also will give us a sense of repulse for what is not
beautiful in our eyes. God has created everything in beauty, but God does not look like
man on the outside, he looks into the heart, so in the end, those who are beautiful
here may be the ugly in eternal life and the ugly may be the beautiful.
We can fast with our eyes
by avoiding to look what is evil, and by looking at those who are suffering: the poor, the
needy, the rejected, the lonely, the despised, the persecuted. Beauty is truly in the eyes
of the beholder.
Our sense of
hearing is over stimulated by this noisy world; it is only in the silence of our
hearts that we can come into the Presence of God. Be still and know that I am the Lord
your God. (Psalm 46:10)
Music has become the life
of many people, and the sad thing is that music itself is beautiful, but it is used to
communicate unimportant messages to our souls, evil concepts and even blasphemous
messages. Coupled with the sensuality of dancing music becomes a powerful enemy of our
David the psalmist used
music to address God, he wrote beautiful songs to praise and worship God. Our ears should
hunger for the Word of God not the noise of the world.
We can fast with our ears
by abstaining from listening to too much music, by avoiding conversations of gossip, by
listening attentively to those that we don't like to hear, by listening to the Word of God
and putting it into practice.
Our sense of smell
is over stimulated by perfumes, soaps, sprays, foods, etc. Our sensuality is exalted by
this way of rejecting what smells just natural.
Accepting what we can not
change, really calls for humility. What is the use of so much vanity, keeping our exterior
looking and smelling good when our interior is like a grave with a decaying corpse? We are
dust and to dust shall we return.
Our sense of taste
is a great gift from God like all other senses, but becoming too fussy about the
taste of our foods will make us very proud and may lead us to the sin of gluttony. Those
insipid foods that we reject could be the most delicious food in the mouth of those who
We may fast by not taking
sugar if we like very much, by not taking milk with our coffee or by just drinking water
instead of coffee or tea. To overcome our slavery to the sense of taste we should
try eating what we don't like and stop eating what we like too much.
Our sense of touch
is very important for us in order to care for our bodies. We would not be able to work if
we could not touch things around us.
The sensitivity of our
bodies permits us to experience the pleasure or touching others, it helps in the bonding
of parents with their children, husbands with wives and it is most perceived in our
sexuality leads to passion which separates the soul from God. If you want to be my
disciples, you must deny yourselves (Matthew 16:24) The
sexual person is a carnal person, the spirit has no territory in him or her. We are
temples of the Holy Spirit, we must not offend our God with our sexual immorality.
Sexual relations are
strictly forbidden by God for unmarried couples or homosexual couples. (Leviticus 18:22) (Ephesians 4:18-19)
Married couples can fast
by entering into times of abstinence by mutual agreement, no partner can force the other
to fast since the husband belongs to the wife and the wife to the husband (1Corinthians 7:3) Sex in marriage contributes to the unitive
value of the couple, uncontrolled sex however leads to immorality and passion that leads
Abstinence from meat
(although we are not saying a total vegetarian diet which may be insufficient for the
body), and fasting with bread and water at least one day per week will help to control the
sexual appetite and predispose the person to become more spiritual.
Joseph of Jesus
The Work of God Apostolate
Lent TWG Teachings
Sins versus virtues