Why do we Catholic Christians observe Ash Wednesday and the 40 days of Lenten season by fasting?
For your consideration:
Some thoughts from us:
Prayer and Fasting and Lenten Fasting is a discipline we observed before we reconciled with The Catholic Church. Those seasons of fasting and prayer trained, and continue to train, us in detachment from our ambitions and appetites. It so happened that those times slowly yet surely turned our minds and hearts toward the Early Church Father's teachings and the Sacred Tradition of The Catholic Church. As Christians, there is a gravity, an anchoring of our faith that unfolds through each fast because we identify with Christ's suffering by denying some part of our own human appetites and lusts. The Catholic idiom, "Offer it up," applies to all of life, especially during a time of prayer and fasting. We offer up our own temporal suffering as a sacrifice of thanksgiving to our Savior who took on all humanity's suffering in the sacrifice of his life.
Some seasons of prayer and fasting are quite literally a desperate calling upon God to intervene in what seems to us as impossible circumstances. Yet there are seasons of fasting that don't seem to yield any evidence to our prayers being answered. It is in the practicing the discipline of fasting that helps us to discern that fasting is less about our prayer lists; it is more about the profound effect that self-denial has on the mind, body and spirit. Through self-denial we grow in the understanding that spiritual fasting is more about the conversion of the heart toward the divine nature that God incarnates in all his children as they hunger and thirst for Him.
The Church's Lenten Fast begins on February 10 this year. Are you preparing your mind and soul for what God desires to train in your nature through the Lenten Fast? Are you calling upon God for a miracle? Are you desiring to enter into the desolation of fasting through detachment from your certain appetites? Are you longing for the consolation of God that comes through that desolation?
Along the way toward the Resurrection we are praying that the Lord would resurrect in the Church a holy zeal for self-sacrifice and sanctification. As we journey with you through the 40 days of Lenten fasting we will share from time to time some of the quotes from the Church's history to encourage you. May God be glorified in His Church!
"Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one's flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, and kindles the true light of chastity. Enter again into yourself." --St. Augustine
"Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast for those who persecute you." --Didache
"When a man begins to fast, he straightway yearns in his mind to enter into converse with God." --St Isaac the Syrian