The Little way of Fasting – by Fr. Aidan Kieran

Fr Aidan Kieran

The Little way of Fasting – by Fr. Aidan Kieran

The season of Lent is almost upon us, it begins tomorrow on Ash Wednesday. During Lent, we are asked to take on three traditional Christian disciplines: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. Today I want to share with you a new insight into fasting which I gained recently.

I’ve generally always dreaded the idea of fasting during Lent. It always seemed to me like a test of endurance, and I never thought I had all that much endurance. Typically I would decide to, say, give up biscuits for the whole of Lent. It would last about ten days, I would have a biscuit and Lent would be over for me. And no matter what people would say about ‘beginning again’ it would never feel the same once failure had set in.

Now, I have learned a new approach to fasting, and it has become a much more appealing prospect.

St Therese of Lisieux teaches us that the “Little things done out of love are those that charm the Heart of Christ… On the contrary, the most brilliant deeds, when done without love, are but nothingness.” These words made me realise that the way I had been approaching the Lenten fast in the past was wrong. Lent is not a test of endurance. It is not even a test of discipline (even though we gain discipline as a by-product). Lent is a little test of LOVE. It is quality the Lord is interested in – not quantity.

I can describe this new approach to fasting – the little way of fasting – with an example. Here is a fast I recently undertook:

At breakfast time I didn’t have my normal cup of tea. I had a cup of hot water instead. It’s not much of a sacrifice is it? But this is the important part: fasting must always be accompanied by prayer. You may remember from the Gospels that on one occasion Jesus told the disciples that a particular evil spirit could only be driven out by prayer AND fasting. The two must be always occur together.

So while I was having my cup of water, I prayed.

I spoke to the Lord Jesus and told him that I was denying myself this 1 cup of tea as an act of love for him. I was doing this so that I might grow in my love for Him. I prayed for others. I asked Him to grant my intentions, but above all I asked him to help me grow in faith and love of Him.

It didn’t matter that it was only a small sacrifice. That’s not what matters to the Lord. What matters is that the sacrifice is accompanied by prayer and offered with a sincere and open loving heart. Fasting must always be accompanied by prayer, and must be done as an act of love for the Lord.

Perhaps you would prefer to go through Our Lady. While fasting, we can also pray through the intercession of Mary, our blessed Mother. I can tell her I am offering my fast as an act of love for her, and ask her to bring me closer to her son Jesus. We give Mary the title ‘mediatrix of all graces’ so we can of course pray through her intercession.

With this approach, fasting has become a wonderfully joyful act. Rather than a miserable endurance test, it becomes a joyful act of offering a sacrifice for the good of others, the good of the Church and above all the good of my own soul. I can have a smile on my face, knowing that the small sacrifice I have made has had a powerful effect in the spiritual life. Since I started this little way of fasting, I have prayed better and I feel I have drawn closer to Christ.

It’s just 1 cup of tea. A little thing, done with great love.

During Lent, I won’t totally deprive myself of other drinks, because I know I would find that too burdensome. My aim is to give up my first cup of tea each morning. On some days I may give up my second cup of tea too! – a definite sacrifice, but one I can realistically sustain.  And each time I am conscious of foregoing a drink I would like, I will pray. I will offer my sacrifice to the Lord with a joyful heart and a smile on my face.

I will offer my Lenten fasting for your intentions, for the people who read this blog. In particular I will pray that those of you who need to do so will make a good confession in preparation for Easter, because confession is so important.

And if any of you would like me to pray for a particular intention of yours, please contact me through this blog in the comments section below. I’d be happy to offer my fasting on a particular day for your personal intention.

I hope you will find these words about fasting helpful during the coming season of Lent.

Fr Aidan.

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138 thoughts on “The Little way of Fasting – by Fr. Aidan Kieran

  1. Pingback: It’s just one cup of tea | Witnesses to Hope

  2. thank u Fr Aidan for sharing that gem of wisdom, I too was dreading lent & trying to fast….. St Thereses quote beautifully explains how we should fast. Pls pray esp. for my husband, that we & our kids grow in faith & prayer & that we can be good parents. God bless u

  3. Thank you for sharing this. Everything is a little easier one step at a time. One prayer at a time. Please pray for our family. Our daughter with autism. Patience for my husband and I and help/the ability to catch up with our rent and bills. We’re hard working people who are struggling through a tough winter. May God bless you.

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  9. Father, please pray for me this Sat. (13th). I have a coffee date with some JW ladies incl. 2 fallen-away Catholics. Please pray the Holy Spirit will be with me and help me. Thanks!

  10. Thank you Fr. Aidan for your beautiful fasting advice for lent. Please keep me,my husband and family in your prayers ..praying for a deeper love of God and family and for conversion of family members who are away from the church and for my own daily conversion. God Bless You

  11. Fr. Adian, that is truly a special and different way of looking at fasting. I too, like you would fail after x amt. of days and feel the same way. I’m going to try it this way and hopefully reap the spiritual rewards for my soul and that of others. I will keep you in my prayers as well Fr.
    I ask you to keep my special intention in your prayers as well
    God Bless,
    Sally

  12. Thank you for this, you have opened this part of our faith for me. I am going to pass it on Facebook and a few emails. By the way I live in Canada your blog has reached across the Atlantic. 🌟

  13. I feel so blessed to have read this at the start of Lent. Thank you for sharing this perspective, I find myself looking forward to growing in faith this liturgical season.

  14. thank you for sharing. Reading this today was my first Blessing. I would like to live in a greater state of Grace, acceptance and Gratitude. please, if you would, ask Jesus to help me. thank you and God bless you.

  15. Fr Aidan, thank you for sharing this. When i am fasting i shall say a prayer for you. Please pray for me as i am suffering a great deal of mental anguish lately. I feel satan is attacking me daily. Family problems.

  16. Father, thank you so much for this blog. I am a convert and a person who struggles with rules and being scrupulous. I felt Jesus ask me to focus on the Divine Mercy and the little flower’s teaching in addition to my Lenten sacrifice of giving up sugar. I felt like your blog was a confirmation of where I feel the Lord leading me. Thank you for your insight and your blog. I will be praying and remembering you this Lent. God bless you and your readers.

  17. Thank you Father for this differend insigth, this will be my way.
    Please pray for my children to come back to God, He is so much needed in their lives.

  18. Thank you Fr. for simplifying lent with a loving aspect…. May God Bless you & Mary Our Holy Mother keep you tightly under her mantel. Please pray for my conversion & those of my Children,Grandchildren & great grandchildren.

  19. Thank you for this wonderfully graced insight. Please add my lost husband …….will have the courage to leave his situation and make a good confession. Desperate situation he is in.
    My 4 adult children will return to the faith. My daughter will be married in Catholic Church…… Grandchild will be baptised. Family healing, unity. Desperate

  20. I am in tears Fr., I feel I am the worst sinner, . . .I pray the ever merciful God to forgive me and help me come back to Him, . . .that I may regain my lost graces. Particularly Fr., remember me in ur prayers that I may totally shun masturbation. . .I hate it yet, I occasionally fall into doing it.
    Thanks a lot for your post !

    • Hi Joe, put your complete trust in God’s mercy. Jesus promised St. Faustina that the worst sinners would receive his mercy if they humbly ask for it. We must believe in the Lord’s love and mercy. Go to confession regularly, have your sins absolved by the priest, and start again. There will be rejoicing in heaven. God bless you.

  21. Please pray for a very special intention on Monday, 15th February, for a family in need. Thank you so much for praying for this very special intention Father. Rose.

  22. Dear Father thank you so much for sharing this. Please pray for a person in my life who is full of hatred towards his in – laws. He need the grace from the Lord to forgive and love.

    • I pray that person may be delivered from hatred, and instead be filled with grace so that love and forgiveness may become their priority.

  23. Dear Father, I would be so pleased if you would pray for Michelle, who is my grandson’s lovely stepmother. She had bi polar, and for the past month has been very poorly again. Her husband Gareth also has a difficult time caring for her, while also doing his time consuming job.

  24. Thank you a Father. As my children have decided to start Fasting and I was having a hard time putting together the right words. I will share with them your words of Wisdom.

  25. Thank you, Fr. Aidan. Would you pray for my husband’s salvation? And conversion for him into the Catholic Church?

  26. Thank you so much for the reminder that, along with fasting must come prayer. I like how you have the example to pray during your one cup of hot water. I will need to use that technique – thank you!

  27. Thank you! I love this. It’s a wonderful idea to pray during the fast – I am sure God will help me keep up with my Lenten practices.

    Please pray for my brother Joe Jr. to recieve God’s love, be set on fire for Jesus, and find a job with meaning and purpose that will draw him ever closer to God! Thank you!

  28. Thank you kindly for your inspired words. For years I have struggled with fasting during lent for the true purpose. This year God has graciously given me this simple saying to HIM throughout the day, I fast from this because I Love you more. This has given me a true feeling a fasting with purpose because I do want to Love him above all things. Your words have confirmed to me that this was truly from God. Thank you so much.
    I am requesting prayers for my son who is struggling mentally and emotionally. I pray that he will allow Jesus in to his heart and allow God to heal him. I pray for his wife to find peace within herself and for them to become a family with God and lead their daughter of 5 years old to a faith filled life.
    God Bless you and your works…..

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