Review of my Lenten fast

Well, Lent is over.  For those who didn’t know or have forgotten, I was on an Lent-long fast (meaning one meal a day).

Fasting is a very difficult thing for me.  You only have to take one look at me and you know that I’m a man who loves his food.  It’s also difficult over sustained periods for me not so much because of the volume of food but because of the daily inconsistency.  I spent 20+ hours each day starving, a 1/2 hour eating 1000+ calories, and an hour or two satisfied.  Without a polite way to say it explicitely, let’s just say that’s a recipe to catch up on my magazine reading.

So here are the final stats of the fast:

  • Total days: 46
  • Total meals: 47
  • Number of days with no meals: 2 (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday)
  • Number of days with 1 meal: 41
  • Number of days with 2 meals: 3 (sailing days where I added a small breakfast for strength for the day)
  • Longest streak withouth food: 52 hours (Holy Thurday lunch to Holy Saturday dinner)
  • Days without meat: 7 (Fridays of Lent and Ash Wednesday, per Church Lenten obligations and no more)
  • Starting weight 270.0 pounds (Ash Wednesday morning)
  • Low weight: 247.5 (Holy Saturday before breaking my Triduum Fast)
  • Final weight: 251 (Easter morning before Mass)

Some have asked me why I did this or why I’ve done it in the past.  What do I gain?

The answer is difficult to put to words, but I’ll try.  First of all, I’d say that the aspect of my human nature that I least have control of is Gluttony (note definition #2 because this is the full sense of the word and what I am referring to).  I love to over-indulge and don’t have much will-power to stop myself.

One of the best ways to grow closer to God is to force yourself to rely on Him.  One of the best ways to do that is to put yourself in situations where you have no choice but to rely on Him.  For me, since Gluttony is so tempting, forcing myself to fast forces me to rely on God.  I’m completely incapable of fasting on my own.  It’s only by growing closer to God and putting my fate in His hands that I have an outside shot of fasting for sustained periods.  I spent a lot of time praying for strength and God always delivered… in God’s time.  And the “in God’s time” bit is important.  It’s not like I’d pray and the next instant I wasn’t hungry.  No, the hunger would pass when God thought it was time.  So the prayers were often sustained and repetitive.  It not only forced me into deep long prayers, it taught me to have patience.

Finally, I’m a sinful man, just like any man.  I feel the need for a great deal of penance for those sins.  As such, I’m constantly looking for good forms of penance.  Of all the forms of penance, fasting is the best for me because of how it draws me close to God.  I not only have the spiritual benefits of penance in its own right, but also the spiritual benefits that fasting gives me in its own right.  And for me particularly, fasting has many benefits.

I hope that explains it well.

In the end, this Lent was a successful one because I feel closer to God again.  Of the other things I had hoped to do or did as part of Lent, none of them helped as much as the fasting did.  It truly brought me into the Lord’s presence and that is always the most important goal of any spiritual practice.

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