Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
From earliest times and in many places, humanity has fasted and prayed. Religious fasts are part of the human religious experience. This is nowhere more true than in the Biblical world, where fasting was prescribed for Israel at certain times, and then in the New Testament, where Jesus Himself fasted and prayed. And so did His disciples, as we see in today’s first reading.
There is a time to fast, and a time to feast. The Eastern Church has maintained these traditions with particular rigor: there are many fasts during the year, most notably during “Great Lent.” But one is forbidden to fast during Easter week, for the time of feasting has come.
Many people would like to fast, but find it hard to do so. Perhaps fasting for the disciples of Christ is itself a gift from God, an invitation. We can will it to a certain extent, but it is best when our will is cooperating with the action of God’s Holy Spirit, moving us to an act of self-denial, an act of self-emptying, a cutting off the link with our food source – to strengthen the link with the source of all life. Let us then look for opportunities to fast, let us listen for the invitation the Lord whispers to us to be like Him, who “fasted and prayed.”