What Is the Fasting that Pleases God?

With Lent starting today, we all know the Church’s minimal rule on fasting — it’s required on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and fasting is defined as eating a little less than two full meals a day.

But if you want to get deeper into the subject, take a look at today’s readings in the Office of Readings, a part of the Liturgy of the Hours.

Isaiah 58:1-12 describes “fasting that pleases God,” and it goes well beyond simply giving up a bit of food twice in 40 days.

“This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.”

Do that, Isaiah assures us, and “your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed.”

The second reading in the Readings “Hour” is a letter to the Corinthians by St. Gregory, Pope.

He tells us that “if we review the various ages of history, we will see that in every generation the Lord has offered the opportunity of repentance to any who were willing to turn to him.”

A lot of wisdom for the start of Lent.

And a thought:  If you’re looking for just one additional thing to do during Lent, consider making the Office of Readings a daily habit.  You don’t even have to invest in a breviary:  You can do the readings on your computer or tablet, thanks to apostolates such as divineoffice.org and iBreviary (both available through the App Store and Google’s Play Store).

About Joel Whitaker

Joel Whitaker is a long-time professional journalist (Tampa Bay Times, Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Bulletin, Institutional Investor, executive newsletters) and Catholic convert. He is the RCIA coordinator for his parish.
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