From Mr Richard Ashton SIR – With the approach of Lent we should reflect upon the disastrous failure to take seriously the matter of fasting. Catholics have abandoned fasting, a practice which should have a place in our lives as important as prayer and good works.
The Orthodox will have already started their pre-Lenten fast. Tenyear-old Muslims are perfectly able to observe Ramadan. But Catholics think that fasting means maybe cutting down on chocolate or beer. Are we really incapable of more than this?
Fasting was a serious matter for Our Lord, has been for saints through the centuries and should be for us. Fit and healthy Catholics should be ready, indeed enthusiastic, to accept a significant reduction in the quality and quantity of their diet during Lent. We should be hungry in the body so that we learn to be hungry in the spirit. Fasting should be part of the weft and warp of our daily life, not only but especially during Lent.
We need to be encouraged in our fasting, to support each other when the going gets tough. We need to have the spiritual benefits, which go far beyond “self-denial”, explained to us. If we showed as much concern for fasting as for diets and nutritional fads how much healthier and fitter our souls would be.
Man does not live by bread alone: we are familiar with the words, but we are not prepared to act out their meaning. A Church which has forgotten to fast is a deficient Church.
Yours faithfully, RICHARD ASHTON By email From Mary Webster SIR – In regard to the letter from R W Yates (January 21), in which he suggests that fasting and abstinence should be reintroduced, I disagree.
Any attempt by the hierarchy to reintroduce “compulsory” fasting will do more harm than good as it will largely be ignored. In the Church of today most people make their own minds up about many things and resent imposition without consultation or discussion.
If the hierarchy wishes us to be seen bearing greater witness to Christ let it call us to deeper prayer, more generous almsgiving and greater involvement in our communities. Yours faithfully, MARY WEBSTER Bolton, Lancashire