Fasting is one of the chief means of penance we can perform to make satisfaction for sin, as our Lady of Fatima repeatedly called for. However, in a modern Church that legislates fasting only two days a year, we find a woefully lacking answer to Heaven’s incessant calls for penance and reparation. Understanding the decline of fasting over time in the Church should inspire us to observe these older customs and to encourage other Catholics to do so for the purpose of making satisfaction for sin.
While the purpose of fasting has remained the same, how fasting is observed has changed. As more Catholics seek to rediscover the traditions of earlier centuries and piously observe these traditions, they are often confused by the changing disciplines and exceptions for certain times, places, and circumstances. St. Francis de Sales remarked, “If you’re able to fast, you will do well to observe some days beyond what are ordered by the Church.”
This book explains fasting and how it has changed over the centuries in one of the most complete compilations yet written. Unfortunately, most summaries of fasting are either inaccurate or incomplete. However, rather than being a mere academic exercise, the purpose of studying the history of fasting is ultimately to help us rediscover these more ancient practices in an attempt to better observe our Lord and our Blessed Mother’s call for penance and reparation for sins.
As Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once remarked, « It is a long-established principle of the Church never to completely drop from her public worship any ceremony, object or prayer which once occupied a place in that worship. » The same may be said for matters concerning either Holy Days of Obligation or fast days. What our forefathers held sacred should remain sacred to us in an effort to preserve our catholicity not only with ourselves but with our ancestors who see God now in Heaven.
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