When applied to food, fasting and abstinence have different meanings in Catholic tradition. Fasting involves the reduction of one’s intake of food, while abstinence means refraining from eating a certain kind of food. With exceptions for age and health reasons, Catholics are asked to engage in some kind of penitential activity, like abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent and fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday by consuming only one full meal. Prayer and works of charity are also encouraged as ways of fasting. When practiced for the right reasons—spiritual focus, self-discipline, awareness of dependence on God, and imitation of Christ—these practices can be very powerful. Give them a chance to work for you.
2 Kings 2:1, 6-14; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 (367).
“When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to others to be fasting.”