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. Thank you Father Aiden. I needed this. I will read it again, as a reminder. I think the little way of fasting is about successful fasting… About actually, lovingly fasting! Wonderful. Many blessings! Emily

  2. I love this idea for fasting! It reminds me that “the Lord loves a cheerful giver!” Please pray for my daughter and other children to come back to the church, especially as we approach that most wonderful feast day, Divine Mercy Sunday!

  3. I enjoyed this article, thank you. Will you please pray for my family members who have fallen away from the Church to return. Thank you!

  4. Great post! Just what I needed as I head into my first Lent and prepare to enter the Church. Lenten sacrifices have seemed daunting to me, but this puts it all in perspective. Thank you! Please pray for me as I enter into full communion with the Church.

  5. Fr. Kieran:

    Please pray for my wife and me. We’re newly wed (on St. Valentine’s Day) and would greatly appreciate your prayers for us as we embark on our life together.

    God bless you.

  6. Thank you for sharing your wisdom father. Great article. May God bless you.
    Father, if you would, please pray that our Lord guides me and gives me the Grace, wisdom, motivation, and energy that I need to have a successful homeschool, and may my children reap the benefits. Also, pray that my husband may reach his goals for a healthy body within this year. Thank you and God bless!

  7. this one makes me think that i can do the same, i love to drink coffee or hot choco in the morning and i will pray that i can do it also giving up my first, second cup and accompany it with a simple prayer. Fr, please include me in ur prayers to be a good father to my kids and good husband to my wife. Also include in ur prayers my work, thank you and God bless…

  8. Thank you Father! This was just posted by a friend and I saw it and clicked on it just as I was dreading getting up in the morning because I too have looked at it as a test of endurance. I love the St. Therese quote. Could you please pray for a group of 400+ (mostly) Catholics who are struggling with infertility, sub fertility, secondary fertility and miscarriage.

    Thank you, and may God richly bless you!

    • Hello, I’m sorry to invade your post I came across it as a friend posted this link to Facebook. I just wondered if there is an online forum/group I can join with regards to fertility issues, I am also a struggling Catholic and would love to gain insight from others in similar situations.
      God bless x

  9. I’m not catholic, so I don’t fast, but I loved your post, and I think that it has helped me too. I find the older I get, the more desire I have to be closer with God, and so I have been reading different religious articles. Thanks you for your post, I’ve said a prayer that it helps other too.

    • You don’t have to be Catholic to fast – it’s okay if you want to try it out! 🙂 I’m glad the Lord has been leading you on a journey closer to Him. He is so very good to us!!!

  10. Thank you father Aidan! “Thinking” will make it easier, The prayer will remind me that whatever I do is out of love. This will make my lent a joyful time. Please for my son Adrian to believe again, and for all the people that struggle with doubt. God Bless You

  11. Pingback: Moments…Pancakes for Dinner and Peace for Lent | Our Home.... Under Mary's Mantle

  12. Thank you very much for your post. It made so much sense to me. Please pray for my friend Paul who is fighting a courageous battle against cancer with grace and faith.

  13. Thank you for your insight of fasting Farher Aiden. Please pray for a healing for me as I had breast cancer and it metastisized to my pelvic area and I am undergoing chemo right now. Thank you.

  14. Thank you for making fasting a more attainable goal while bringing us closer to the suffering Lord in prayer. Please pray for the conversion and salvation of my sons and grandchildren. Thank you very much.
    God bless you.
    Pat

  15. Father Aidan
    I would like you to please remember my sister Geraldine O Toole in your prayers. She has cancer and I ask that you pray for healing for her.
    Thank you
    God bless
    Mary

  16. Wonderful advice, Father! Please pray for my family, especially for my kids’ salvation and my faithful attention to the daily duties of my vocation as a wife, mom, educator and business woman. May God prosper all of the works of our hands!!

  17. Thank you Father Aiden for your blog on fasting, made me think. Please pray for us as a family as we need prayer at this time. Thank u. U will b in our prayers too.

  18. Dear Fr. I consider myself a good Catholic continually blessed by the Faith and the love of God, I attend Mass regularly and I love the Word and the Eucharist but I do not go to confession often enough because I do not think I can make a good confession, having stayed away for way too long. Please add me to your prayer list or communicate some holy directions to me
    Grateful

    • Hi Catherine, thanks for your message. My advice about confession is to choose a sin, just one sin. (You must have a few to choose from!) Go to confession, and confess that one sin. When you experience the joy of having that sin absolved, it will encourage you to come back and confess your other sins. The longest journey begins with one step. God bless you.

  19. Thanks Fr. for this beautiful message on Lenten journey.
    Please pray for us to have a baby .We have been trying for more than 2 years.

  20. Fr. Aidan, would you please pray for my intention? I have three friends who are lapsed Catholics. I call them my ‘indifferent friends’ because they no longer go to Church or believe much in the Catholic faith. I pray for them at daily Mass and have been doing so for over a year. I know this is a moment in the whole scheme of things, but I am getting impatient. I would like for at least one of them to return to the faith by Easter. Thank you!

  21. Thank you Father great tip on fasting this lent season., I look forward to this lent season of prayers, almsgiving, and fasting..please keep me in your prayers as I do the same for you. God Bless.

    • Also please keep my Dad (Daniel Ardoin Sr) in prayer he is dying of cancer and has stopped all treatments since not helping.. Not sure how long he as but for now he is cheerful., he can’t speak due to all his surgeries on throat. His eyes speak to us in such 💘

  22. If you could pray that I will experience Jesus in the Eucharist, in a very profound and deeply moving way. I love our Lord, but Mass, is just so dead for me. Others around me, get so much, from Mass and Communion and I feel that I am really missing out. I would like to experience him in a way, that I can be more devoted and know him in a very special way in the Eucharist.

  23. This is so helpful, thank you. The all-or-nothing approach was not helping me be a joyful witness. I plan to also build in almsgiving by setting aside a dollar for every little privilege I sacrifice, intentionally, during Lent, and giving what I collect after Lent to a specific cause that I will be praying for. Thanks again.

  24. Thank you for explaining how to fast the right way.if you could pray for my husband and children to heal the hurt by family members they have been struggling with for the last several months

  25. Thank you Jesus for sharing this message through Father Aidan. I needed to hear this. It is a great reminder for Catholics and non Catholics alike that all fasting should be done with prayer as an act of love.

  26. Please pray for my husband and I as we begin our final month of trying to have children. We’ve been trying for four years and are approaching the end of the treatments we are willing to consider. If it is not God’s will that we conceive, please pray that we may find peace as we make a decision regarding adoption.

    • Thank you Stephanie. I will print a list of all these intentions and keep it on my prayer table during Lent. I pray you will succeed in your efforts. God bless you.

  27. I love St. Therese’s Little Ways and this makes so much sense. I love, “Little things done out of love are those that charm the Heart of Christ.” I had decided I would not give some up for Lent, but not complain about the many unnecessary chores my children give me — leaving their things on the floor, leaving dishes around. I’ll try to just do the work without complaining — many little ways. I would greatly appreciate prayers for my oldest son who is not devout, and would probably lose his faith entirely if he wasn’t going on the rare occasion for me.

  28. Thank you Father… this gives me a much better understanding of “giving up” something for Lent. Please pray for me that I can become stronger in my faith!

  29. Please pray for my son Peter. He battles depression and is now jobless. He is 35 years old and had to leave our family business that he has worked in since he was 15 years old. His aunt is toxic and Peter knew for his good he needed to get out. Please pray that he finds his way back to Jesus and that he finds a fulfilling job. Thank you Father

  30. Please pray that I get a good enough Job, that I cam pay off all my debt- so that I am free to answer the Lord’s call -if he is truly calling me to a vocation of religious life. And for a very special intetion for Father David Bialkowski

  31. Thank you through eternity for this gem of a post, Fr. Aidan, so filled with wisdom. Please enfold my children and their families in your prayers and sacrifices… for their conversion and healing. Thank you, Father. I will include you and all your needs in my prayer and fasting tomorrow. As I pray through this night, I shall cling to the Relic of the True Cross for you: Passion of Christ, strengthen Fr. Aidan. Amen

  32. Great advice for fasting which I have already started to apply today and as I pray for my son, Christopher, to come to a deeper knowledge and love of the Lord, I would like you to also pray for him. Thank you.

  33. Please pray for my husband and I. As job security is in the air, and two are going off to college, allow us to trust that the Lord will direct our paths. I ask for support and encouragement as he works so hard, always trying to do the right thing. May my husband find peace in the next month. May I find it too. 🙂

  34. Wonderful, faith filled approach to fasting. Please pray with me for unity among my siblings. The past year has brought much division, mostly because of false information being passed around. Thank you so much and God Bless you!

  35. Thank you so much for reframing Lent and fasting for me. It’s not a test of endurance or self-discipline, but of love! Yes! I can do small, very tiny things with great love, even though I bomb out on the big things. And that’s enough. With love.

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