So much has happened in our country lately that has been quite disorienting. Notably, New York legislated the country’s most aggressive abortion bill that viciously attacks the unborn. Internet assumptions, uncharity, and scapegoating characterized the incident between the Covington Catholic teens and Nathan Phillips. The government continues to show its disunity as it remains obstinately divided over many issues, including immigration and the southern border. And in the Church, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report and McCarrick scandals have shed and re-shed light on some dark corners within the Church. Much has been disorienting.

When the news of the scandals broke out, a number of seminarians and priests in my diocese began a time of intentional prayer, fasting, and penance. Increasingly desperate times call for increasingly desperate, or rather heroic, measures…  

For three months, two of my classmates and myself gave up alcohol, prayed a daily Divine Mercy chaplet, intentionally set aside time in our busy schedules to reflect on and share about our weekly joys and struggles, and fasted (two small meals, one regular meal) on Wednesdays and Fridays. Honestly, this was an idea that I was not super thrilled about at first, but then warmed to the idea after my classmates persuaded me.

I don’t share my practices to boast, but rather to hopefully convey some of the fruits of this time of prayer and penance. This article and its follow-up are going to be an attempt to help show the deep significance of fasting in the Christian life. The first parts will focus on how fasting helps to change us, while the second will work to show how it helps to change our world.

All of our efforts were meant to combat the specific evils, I believe, that are at the core of the Evil One’s continued assault upon the Church: the prideful desire for power and pleasure, the desire to isolate and the lack of transparency, and the absence of prayer and the lack of belief in its power. Everything diabolical, everything that causes division and confusion, comes from the Evil One.

Around the same time we started the fast, a priest friend explained to me that he shared with one of his parishioners that he too was entering into a time of fasting and penance for the Church. The parishioner’s reaction was as follows:

“Fasting…what’s that going to do? What is that going to help with?”

Read more at Word on Fire. 

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