Full question: On the church calendar, the forty days before Easter show ‘fast’. I know that Wednesdays and Fridays are observed as meatless. Are the other days simply a matter of personal abstentions such as personally deciding to eliminate three large meals a day or snacks with treats?
Response from: Fr. Jim
Thank you for your question. You are correct, during the Lenten fast Ukrainian Catholics in Canada are encouraged to fast from meat and meat products on Wednesdays, as well as being required to do so on Fridays; anything beyond that is up to you. The most important thing is that we unite our fasting with prayer and almsgiving so that we may grow in our spiritual lives. Fasting is much more than giving up meat, but also giving up or abstaining from anything that takes our focus off love of God and love of neighbour.
The Catechism of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Christ – Our Pascha, states:
Christians have fasted since ancient times. It was and is a way of imitating the forty-day fast of Christ during which he fought the devil’s temptations and overcame them. Fasting is a means of spiritual combat that was further developed by monastics, who saw it as a means of achieving purity of heart. Fasting takes hold of the entire being: the body through restraint of food and drink, and the soul through restraint of passions. Saint John Chrysostom teaches: . . . “For what does it profit if we abstain from [eating meat]; and yet bite and devour our brothers and sisters?” (#786).
May God bless you in your Lenten journey!
In Christ, Fr. Jim