Why Do We Practice Fasting and Abstinence? (Illustrated Guide!)

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Before we even start talking about fasting or abstinence, let’s say something obvious: none of this make sense outside a logic of faith. There are certainly psychological benefits and ways of explaining the cultural or social reasons for fasting and such, but that’s all secondary, to say the least.

To put it simply, we fast because Christ invites us to do so:


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“But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”(Mather 6: 16-18)

Fasting is a powerful and beautiful way of living out penance and self-denial, both important realities in our Christian life. Still, we should always remember that at the heart of it all is charity. Or, as John Chrysostom puts it: “No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.” All this isn’t to downplay the role of sacrifice and self-denial; Francis reminds us both that these activities must truly enrich others as well as saying: “I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.”

Without further delay, here is a simple illustrated guide on fasting and abstinence that to give you a clear and simple idea of how to live out this practice for Lent. As with all of our resources, feel free to uses these images as you wish (just don’t delete our logo ;-)).


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If you still have any doubts on why exactly we are called to fast, here is a useful infographic from the Catholic-Link Library. If you like our images, remember that we upload all of them daily in top quality for your convenience.

About Garrett Johnson

Garrett Johnson has written 372 post in this blog.

Born in Texas, I fell in love with evangelization when I was 18. A former NET member and a Franciscan University of Steubenville Alumnus, I am now living in Rome and studying for the priesthood.

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