Thought for the Day – 7 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Fasting and Abstinence
“Nowadays, fast and abstinence, takes the form of precepts of the Church which binds us under pain of mortal sin.
Before, they were commanded by the Church, however, they had been commanded by God.
God made the first law of this kind when He ordered Adam to obstain from the forbidden fruit.
Moses made particular laws of fast and abstinence for the Jewish people.
He also fasted himself, as did the Prophet Elias.
“My knees totter from my fasting, writes King David, “and my flesh is wasted of its substance.” (Ps 108:24).
“Prayer is good with fasting and alms,” (Tob 12:8) says Tobias.
Jesus fasted for forty days as an example to us and He waqrned us that the devil can be conquered only by prayer and fasting (Mt 17:20).
In a more general way, He warned us that: “Unless you repent, you will all perish” (Lk 13:5).
One of the means of doing penance most often recommended in Sacred Scripture, is fasting and abstinence.
Why, you may ask, should Our Lord and the Church, command us to mortify ourselves in regard to food?
There are powerful reasons.
It is an act of obedience to God, our absolute Master, Who does not demand anything of us, save for our own welfare.
Secondly, it is an act of reparation for our sins.
In the third place, it enables us to subdue our carnal impulses and in this way, makes us more obedient to the law of God.
A man who cannot mortify his appetite for food, will certainly not be able to resist the temptations of the flesh.
There is a connection between all these things.
If we cannot subordinate our bodily appetites to our spiritual faculties and to the Divine law, we shall not be able to raise ourselves from the level of an animal existence, to contact with God, through prayer and the practice of virtue.”