This article was written by Zak Portelli.
Lent is just hours away, we begin to prepare ourselves for ash Wednesday, and as usual one begins to hear people coming out with their own theories about what fasting and abstaining is. You might have come across that “enlightened” Christian, who sounds as if he/she is vegetarian for the whole year but seems to need a piece of meat on ash Wednesday, you know…. ” but I seldom eat meat, so for me, not eating meat is not a sacrifice, so I might as well just eat meat on ash Wednesday.” Then there are the ones who say: “This rule of not eating meat is only a medieval concept because rich people ate meat in the past so they had to give it up.”
First things first, abstinence is abstinence. No meat should be eaten, even if you’ve made it your life long goal to be a vegetarian but just have to bite into a succulent piece of steak on ash Wednesday. It is simply an excuse of course, to eat and stuff ones face with whatever one wishes to. If a person truly seldom eats meat, then they should apply the same on ash Wednesday PLUS abstain from something else too. Fasting, is basically, having one main meal in a day. The main meal must of course not contain meat. If you want to make things simple, just turn vegan for a day.
The question of course, why do we do this?
Denying the body food and drink has been an ancient religious practice and was practiced for centuries before Christianity even came into existence. In Christianity we share in the practice of Christ who fasted for 40 days before he began his ministry. It is seen as an act of purification, and victory of the human will over the needs. Fasting is in fact a very powerful tool against evil.
Any exorcist will tell you that often time before performing and praying the rite, a period of fasting is lived out. Why is it so powerful? It gives man the opportunity to take command over one of the most powerful urges the urge to eat and drink, thus denying the body gives the human person a strength to over come urges and take mastery over all things. The devil usually tempts people according to urges they seldom have control over, for example anger.
Fasting thus helps the person to take master over his body and if one practices fasting, then one will soon realize that he’s on the road to virtue!