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How fasting can make us less selfish


Jean Fortunet | CC BY 1.0

Philip Kosloski - published on 02/18/23

Fasting during Lent can reorient our lives and make us less selfish and more focused on others.

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Fasting is a Lenten discipline that most of us don’t enjoy or fully embrace. We don’t like to feel hunger pains and would rather fill that void with yummy, delicious food.

However, fasting is an important spiritual discipline that can help us be less selfish and more open to other people.

Pope Benedict XVI highlighted this aspect of fasting in his 2011 message for Lent.

Fasting, which can have various motivations, takes on a profoundly religious significance for the Christian: by rendering our table poorer, we learn to overcome selfishness in order to live in the logic of gift and love; by bearing some form of deprivation – and not just what is in excess – we learn to look away from our “ego”, to discover Someone close to us and to recognize God in the face of so many brothers and sisters. For Christians, fasting, far from being depressing, opens us ever more to God and to the needs of others, thus allowing love of God to become also love of our neighbor (cf. Mk 12: 31).

It’s tempting to think of fasting as something oppressive and entirely unnecessary, but it can have a surprising spiritual effect if we fully embrace it.

The key is to let fasting open our eyes to the poor among us and to recognize how much God has given us. This realization should then inspire us to serve the poor in our local community and to do what we can to give back to those who are less fortunate.

Whenever we fast during Lent (or other times of the year), may we let God’s grace penetrate our hearts and help us become less selfish in our lives.

LentSpiritual Life
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