"When the days come that the Groom is removed from their midst, they will surely fast in those days." —Luke 5:35
Jesus taught that His followers would fast. The leaders of the church of Antioch fasted and were then told by the Holy Spirit to send Barnabas and Saul on the first Christian missionary journey (Acts 13:2). Paul and Barnabas installed leaders for the early Christian communities "with prayer and fasting" (Acts 14:23). Paul fasted frequently (see 2 Cor 6:5).
Throughout the centuries, the church fasted for forty days each Lent in imitation of Jesus' forty-day fast (see Mt 4:2). The Church also has fasted for a day or two each week, especially on Fridays. Many saints (e.g. St. Francis of Assisi) were led by the Spirit to emphasize God's call to fast. After Vatican II, some Catholics mistakenly got the idea that the Church was downplaying the call to fasting. This is not the case. The Church continues to emphasize fasting. Pope John Paul II has taught: "Jesus Himself has shown us by His own example that prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil (cf Mt 4:1-11). As He taught His disciples, some demons cannot be driven out except in this way (cf Mk 9:29). Let us therefore discover anew the humility and the courage to pray and fast so that power from on high will break down the walls of lies and deceit" (The Gospel of Life, 100, emphasis his). Humbly and courageously fast and pray.
Prayer: Father, may I consider it a privilege to be called to fast. May I fast accordingly.
Promise: Christ "is the Image of the invisible God, the First-Born of all creatures. In Him everything in heaven and on earth was created." —Col 1:15-16
Praise: Carol has fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays for years, and others have seen her growth in humility and courage.
Reference: (For a related teaching, order our leaflet, The Secret of Fasting, or our audio AV 46-1 or video V-46.)
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, February 1, 2011
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