#Advent: The Ideal Time for #Fasting

Copyright 2014 James Hrkach

Copyright James Hrkach

My latest article at Catholic 365:

Are we using this beautiful time of Advent to prepare our hearts for Christmas?  Or is the Christmas hype distracting us?

Some may think that Lent is the only good time for fasting.  However, both Lent and Advent are penitential seasons of the liturgical year and both are ideal times for fasting.  Advent is often called a “mini-Lent.”

Is it even possible to fast during Advent when Christmas parties occur weekly and when the world starts celebrating Christmas before Advent even begins?

Yes, it is possible!  The important thing is to start.

Fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays helps us to focus on the spiritual value of this beautiful season.  This is the time for preparing our hearts and souls.  Jesus indeed comes to save his people and we must be prepared to meet Him and to celebrate the beautiful feast of His birthday.

Praying, fasting, reading Scripture and almsgiving are all ideal ways to prepare during Advent.  However, fasting especially puts a light under our prayers and helps us to remain focused on the spiritual, rather than the commercial, aspects of Advent and Christmas.

St. John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae (1994) said, “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.” (P.101-102)

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “In our own day, fasting seems to have lost something of its spiritual meaning, and has taken on, in a culture characterized by the search for material well-being, a therapeutic value for the care of one’s body. Fasting certainly brings benefits to physical well-being, but for believers, it is, in the first place, a “therapy” to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God.”

If you’ve never fasted before, consider giving up meat, coffee and/or treats on Wednesdays and Fridays during Advent.   Rather than 24 hours, perhaps try to fast for 12 hours.  Once you’ve mastered fasting from meat, coffee and/or treats, then you can try eating less foods or even try to fast on bread and water alone.

For more information on how to get started with fasting, check out our websiteAlways check with your physician before beginning any fasting routine.

To sign up for the LTF free biweekly fasting newsletter, click here.

Live the Fast is a Roman Catholic Apostolate that is focused on bringing more awareness to the discipline of fasting by offering educational resources on prayer and fasting, a prayer community that will inspire one to live the fast and providing nutritious fasting breads. (Priests and religious receive fasting breads and resources free of charge.)

copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach 2016

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Fasting: A Powerful Weapon in the Fight Against Evil

Fasting retreat bread and water“Not all can accept this word,
but only those to whom that is granted.
Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so;
some, because they were made so by others;
some, because they have renounced marriage
for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”
  (Matt 19)

In this passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus talks about the importance and indissolubility of marriage and summarizes it by saying, “Whoever can accept this, ought to accept it.”

A good marriage takes a lot of work. It’s a big responsibility. For the vast majority of Christians, marriage is meant to be forever so that the spouses can assist each other on the road to holiness and heaven.

There is a prophecy from Sr. Lucia of Fatima regarding “the final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan. The battlefield is the family. Life and the family.”

One need only to look around at our world to see marriage and the family are under attack: same sex marriage is now legal in most states and in Canada, living together before marriage is common and accepted as the norm, and contraception and abortion use are now considered “acceptable.”  Couples getting married today face a 50% divorce rate.  Transgender kids as young as five and nasty custody battles are becoming more commonplace.

We are living the culmination of Sr. Lucia’s prophecy.  And perhaps we feel helpless. Maybe we feel there is nothing we can do.

However, there is something very important we can do: fast.

St. John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae (1994) said, “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.” (P.101-102)

St. Theophan the Recluse said, “When there is no prayer and fasting, there are demons.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “In our own day, fasting seems to have lost something of its spiritual meaning, and has taken on, in a culture characterized by the search for material well-being, a therapeutic value for the care of one’s body. Fasting certainly brings benefits to physical well-being, but for believers, it is, in the first place, a “therapy” to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God.”

Many Catholics mistakenly believe that fasting only belongs in Lent. Up until the 1960’s, fasting was recommended and encouraged during the entire year. Fasting on bread and water two days a week (usually Wednesday and Friday) is a very powerful weapon in the fight against evil.  Fasting on less food and abstaining from meat, treats or coffee are also good ways to deny one’s self.

Benefits of fasting:

  • Fasting opens up our hearts to conversion
  • Fasting gives weight to our prayer intentions
  • Fasting strengthens us in resisting temptations
  • Fasting and prayer promote peace in our hearts and peace with one another
  • Fasting teaches us the difference between “wanting” and “needing”
  • Fasting reminds us of the plight of the poor and for many in the world who are perpetually hungry
  • Fasting and prayer can free us from addictive behavior
  • “Fasting will lead us to a new freedom of heart and mind.” — Fr. Slavko Barbaric O.F.M
  • Fasting invites the Holy Spirit in to heal our hearts, our relationship with God and our relationship with others

With all fasting, we strongly recommend consulting your physician— as everyone’s physical health is unique.
Fasting is not always easy.  Fasting takes a lot of work. Fasting takes self-control. But whoever can accept the challenge to fast, ought to accept it.

Our world needs fasting.  In Scripture, (Mark 9:27-29) Jesus tells the apostles that said that some demons can only be expelled through prayer and fasting.  This is the power of fasting and this is what our world needs.

Evil exists in our world.

Join the movement.  Try fasting.

For more information on how to get started with fasting, check out our website (http://livethefast.orgAlways check with your physician before beginning any fasting routine.

To sign up for our free biweekly fasting newsletter, click here.

Live the Fast is a Roman Catholic Apostolate that is focused on bringing more awareness to the discipline of fasting by offering educational resources on prayer and fasting, a prayer community that will inspire one to live the fast and providing nutritious fasting breads. (Priests and religious receive fasting breads and resources free of charge.)

Ellen Gable Hrkach 2016

Live the Fast Welcomes the Holy Father with Fast4Francis

Fast4FrancisLOGOSm
Contact: Darcie Nielsen
Assistant Director
(781) 647-0034
Darcie@livethefast.com

Waltham, MA (August 15, 2015) – Live the Fast, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides nutritious breads and educational materials to encourage prayer and fasting, has announced that it will lead a prayer and fasting novena for Pope Francis’s upcoming visit to the USA next month. Fast4Francis is an opportunity for participants to embrace the Pope’s visit as an invitation to a deeper faith life and to pray for his safe travel leading up to and throughout his visit to the USA.

Darcie Nielsen, Assistant Director of Live the Fast, says “Prayers (novenas) and fasting together are powerful tools used in preparation for important events. This is a proactive effort to stimulate a fervent environment of prayer and faith for our Holy Father’s visit.”

The Fast4Francis novena will take place September 18-26, the nine days leading up to the pope’s arrival in Philadelphia. Anyone from any faith may take part in the nine day fast. There are various tracks of fasting that participants can take part in. All tracks of fasting involve giving up certain foods, praying the prayers of the novena and taking part in a sacrament (like Holy Mass or Reconciliation). For example, Track 1 involves giving up coffee, Track 2, fasting from snacks and dessert, Track 3 involves skipping one meal, Tracks 4 and 5 bread and water fasts. Since prayer, fasting and almsgiving are inseparable, participants are invited to choose one of the Works of Mercy as well. Participants may also begin in one track and move to another or combine tracks during the nine day novena. For those who cannot fast, spending more time in prayer and/or going to adoration for the nine days is an ideal alternative. As well, fasting can also entail giving up social media or television.

Pope Francis has said, “Fasting makes sense if it really chips away at our security and, as a consequence, benefits someone else, if it helps us cultivate the style of the good Samaritan, who bent down to his brother in need and took care of him.”

In May 2013, Pope Francis consecrated the Vatican City State to St. Michael the Archangel “to defend us from the evil one.” So taking the Holy Father’s lead, this novena also calls upon the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel.

To sign up for Fast4Francis reminder emails and for more information, resources and prayers, check out the event’s website at www.fast4francis.org. Here you can read the prayers for the novena and learn about the different kinds of fasts.

For those interested in bread and water fasts (for Fast4Francis and for fasting throughout the year), fasting breads provided by Live the Fast are made with unbleached and untreated flour, with no additives and preservatives and with a variety of flavorful, nourishing ingredients that will help one maintain and finish a bread and water fast. Fasting kits also include prayer and fasting guides to aid a healthy fast.

NOTE: Live the Fast strongly urges you to consult your physician before beginning the practice of fasting.

About Live the Fast
The mission of Live the Fast is to encourage the practice of prayer and fasting by providing a variety of exceptional, all-natural, nutritious breads, along with educational resources and a support community that will inspire one to live the fast. Inspired by the words of the Blessed Mother at Medjugorje, the Live the Fast team ministers to share the spiritual and physical benefits of fasting while teaching how to do it safely and effectively. For more information: livethefast.org