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Is fasting an act of law or love?

 March 4, Friday after Ash Wednesday
Daily Readings: Isaiah 58:1-9a, Gospel: Matthew 9:14-15

At the beginning of Lent, the rector (head of the institution) suggested to the seminarians (candidates to be future priests in the Catholic Church) forgoing any meal voluntarily every week, besides fasting on Fridays during Lent.

Some seminarians agreed, and others did not. So, it was a contentious issue whether to sacrifice a meal once a week or not.

During Lent, the church directs its members to fast. This applies to all over 14 years of age (although the elderly and sick are exempted from this on account of health or medical conditions).

Fasting, penance, and almsgiving are vital aspects of observing the Lenten season.

In the readings, the focus is on the importance of fasting. First of all, fasting is about the law, not love. Catholics fast during Lent not because it is a mere law (or obligation), but out of love—love of God and love of others.

In many countries, the fruits of sacrifice and fasting are offered to the church’s works of charity, which is an act of love for others, as shown by Isaiah, the prophet in the first reading.

Secondly, fasting is not about ritual but repentance. Fasting should lead one to repent for sinful ways and turn away from selfishness, excess, and indifference to the needy. Above all, learn to love God and your neighbors honestly, sincerely, and constantly.

We all need to know the reason and rationale for our fasting. Forgoing physical food is a means to aspiration for the spiritual treasure that nourishes and satisfies the soul.

Is fasting a conscious practice to rouse your spirit? Or is it simply a dietary requirement for you? What is the social, spiritual, and pastoral aspect of your fasting?


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.