Pope Francis’ Unusual Fasting Ideas

Fasting from food is not recommended on a daily basis. You would grow weak and tired very quickly. The sort of fast Pope Francis advocates is different and it could be practiced every day of the year because it is actually good for you. Even kids (who are not officially required to participate in the usual Lenten abstinences and fasts) could get into the Holy Father’s list of fasting ideas:

-Fast from hurtful words… and say kind words

-Fast from sadness… and be filled with gratitude

-Fast from anger… and be filled with patience

-Fast from worries… and have trust in God

-Fast from bitterness…and fill your hearts with joy

-Fast from pressures… and be prayerful

-Fast from pessimism… and be filled with hope

-Fast from grudges… and be reconciled

-Fast from selfishness… and be compassionate to others

-Fast from words… and be silent so you can listen

Kids especially will understand the last two on the list right away: children know all too well what happens when someone else is being too selfish to take the time to listen to them. They know that it means that their own needs or wants will be ignored, or at least put off to wait “until later.”

Ignoring others hurts them, but it also hurts our own hearts. It is easy to see why the Pope warns against habits of self-centeredness because they are unhealthy for us. This year in his Lenten message, he repeated his annual theme, a theme that fits well into the earlier list:

Fast from indifference and come close to those who are in need.

Pope Francis likes to repeat that encounters with the poor and the weak should not be considered irritations or interruptions, but real opportunities for conversion and change in our hearts. “Lent is a favorable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ,” he writes. To recognize Christ in the weakest and most desperate among us is the mission of the Church, it is the mission of Karidat, and it is the call for each one of us.

(selections taken from pietrafitness.com)

Take a few minutes to scribble down some thoughts about why it is hard to do the fasts listed above. Brainstorm: what you think might be keeping you back?

Look at the final words in each line of the list and ask God to help you overcome whatever is preventing you from: gratitude, hope, trust, prayer, or listening to others.

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