Left unchecked, our passions will lead us to soul destroying behavior like gluttony, hatred, disordered sexual acts, or addictions of all kinds. “The sinful passions…yield increase only to death,” explains St.
Paul.3 Faced with the reality of the passions, it can be easy to become discouraged and think we can never overcome them.
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Rather, fasting is an aid, a training tool in our ascent toward perfection, which is found in a pure, self-giving love of God and neighbor.
“Be on your guard when you begin to mortify your body by abstinence and fasting,” says St.
So how do we find this freedom practically speaking? Paul explains: In other words, we find freedom from the passions by mortifying them, putting them to death, through the practice of grace-empowered asceticism—specifically, fasting.
On the contrary mortification aims at the “liberation” of man, who often finds himself, because of concupiscence, almost chained by his own senses.“The spiritual principle of life has set me free, in Christ Jesus, from the principle of sin and death.”5 Through the grace of God, and by walking in the new life purchased for us by Jesus Christ, we can overcome and subdue our passions.We can live as children of God, free from the law of sin that leads to death.We cry, “Pitiable creature that I am, who is to set me free from a nature thus doomed to death?”4 Fortunately, that’s not the end of the story, and we are not left as helpless slaves to concupiscence.We should seek to constantly pursue a deeper conversion. Francis de Sales gives some good advice in this regard: If you are able to fast, you will do well to observe some days beyond what are ordered by the Church, for besides the ordinary effect of fasting in raising the mind, subduing the flesh, confirming goodness, and obtaining a heavenly reward, it is also a great matter to be able to control greediness, and to keep the sensual appetites and the whole body subject to the law of the Spirit; and although we may be able to do but little, the enemy nevertheless stands more in awe of those whom he knows can fast.Now, you don’t have to fast from all of these things all of the time. Fast from sin – Bodily fasting is meaningless unless it is joined with a spiritual fast from sin. Basil gives the following exhortation regarding fasting: Let us fast an acceptable and very pleasing fast to the Lord. Pray – Fasting is not simply a matter of will power. While fasting energies prayer, prayer energizes fasting. As you fast to conquer your passions, pray constantly for the grace of God to flood your soul, beg for the virtues in which you need to mature, and ask for strength in the spiritual warfare. Beware of Pride – With any kind of self-discipline, penance, or fasting comes a temptation to pride.S., but some sort of food-based penance or sacrifice still required. Men, fasting two days a year and abstaining from meat on Fridays is easy.But instead of trying to invent some new penance, why not just stick with what Catholics have always done? In the “old days”, fasting was required every weekday in Lent.Through “corporal fasting” man regains strength and the “wound inflicted on the dignity of our nature by intemperance is cured by the medicine of a salutary abstinence.” Now that we’ve discussed the purpose of fasting, let’s take a look at how to build fasting into our daily lives. Start with the basics – The first step in fasting is obeying the law of the Church—fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, abstaining from meat on Fridays, and observing the Eucharistic fast (do not eat or drink one hour before communion).Regarding abstaining from meat on Friday, it’s true that it is technically is not required in the U.