For Catholics like me, it is a church commandment to fast and abstain on Ash Wednesdays and Good Fridays and abstain on Holy Thursdays and every Friday of the Lenten season. Abstain means not to eat animal meat. Food from fish and plant are allowed. Fasting means to eat one full meal per day only. I have always suffered from an acidic stomach and I can hardly obey this Church edict although people who are sick or too young or too old are exempted. What is more important is one knows what we are doing this for. We fast to make our spirits stronger to resist temptation, to be one with Christ’s sufferings in Calvary, and to know how it feels to be poor and hungry. And the money one saved from fasting should be donated to charity. We may not only fast from eating but also from other pleasures such as fasting from our gadgets for entertainment.
But when one sets his mind on fasting, the devil comes around to tempt which is what happened to me last Ash Wednesday as I was hearing Mass: Visions of food, especially Lenten menus of fast food restos I will pass by on my way home kept playing on my mind. As I was mentally selecting alternative dishes to meat for later, I realized I need to fast and not just abstain. That means, even non-meat dishes are not allowed.
I bought a pack of candies and had one, then drank water instead just so I would not make my looming headache from hunger an excuse to pass by an eatery and fill my tummy as I still had to pass by the bank, do my groceries and pay my bills. I made it home without eating out! I was happy with my little victory although I had a late light lunch at home – so very different from the kind of fasting Jesus did!