FASTING. This is true fasting
by Joseph of Jesus and Mary
6:17 But you, when you fast anoint your head, and wash your face;
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.
The 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 neighbour. 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:
Saint Augustine says:
Fundamentally, fasting is not a question of the stomach but of the
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.
Fasting with Charity
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.
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 to others:
Am I irritable and
Let us go back and read, meditate and do something to improve ourselves, this is the fasting that pleases the Lord (Isaiah 58)
Fasting with the senses
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.
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 souls.
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 are starving.
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.
However uncontrolled 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 to adultery.
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