A Lenten Meditation by Fr. Dominic Legge, O.P.: Fasting

A Message on Fasting
By Fr. Dominic Legge, O.P., Director of the Thomistic Institute and Associate Professor of Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies
Monday, March 15, 2021

To Love Fasting

If you’re like me, Lenten fasting is a negation, a privation.  You do it as a discipline, an obligation, a penance, or maybe following the advice of a spiritual guide.  But you don’t love to fast.

A Dominican confrere recently sent me a short article by a Benedictine monk titled To Love Fasting.  (St. Benedict told his monks “to love fasting.”)  It surprised me with its simple wisdom – and it has totally changed fasting for me this Lent.  

The author asks why previous generations took fasting so seriously, but we have mainly given it up.  Are modern conditions really so different from the past?

His answer is a forceful “no.”  “Our modern allergy to fasting is not a matter of diminished strength, but of faulty judgment and will.  The cause is not in the physical, but in the spiritual order.” 

Fasting is necessary for our spiritual life. We need to fast in order to tame our passions, and to free our minds to rise up to God.  (This is also the teaching of Aquinas and many other great saints!)

In other words, fasting is positively good for us.  When you experience this, you will love it!  Moderate fasting isn’t hard, and it brings important benefits to the spiritual life. “One notices an overall serenity of the soul, and this has a prolonged effect on the whole of life. . . Serenity and refinement, detachment, freedom, joy. This last word may be surprising, but it is strictly true. Fasting, which is viewed as a sad thing, is really a source of joy.”

Try it this Lent: no breakfast, a normal lunch, and a light dinner (no snacks).  “It is truly possible and even easy.”  Then use the time you save to raise your mind to God.  That’s where it will find its highest joys.
Donate Now