In Mark 9:14-27, Jesus drives a Demon out of a boy. Some of the disciples asked him why they could not cast out this demon, to which Jesus responds "This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting" (Mark 9:29). Really though, how often do we fast? I don't want a show of hands, but do you know how important fasting is? In the Latin Church, we are only told to fast twice a year, just because this is the requirement, does not mean it should be the minimum! One of my favourite Saints is a Lebanese Maronite Catholic by the name of St. Charbel Makhlouf. St. Charbel Makhlouf was a hermit that fasted regularly. He only took one meal a day, and no more. During Lent (Great Lent), he was to eat no meat, dairy, or eggs. He prayed, and as he was a Priest, he offered the Mass (Divine Liturgy) daily. St Charbel is an inspiration to me because this how I want my spiritual life to be. Now, I have no interest whatsoever in being a Priest (and God bless the men that do!), but I think that we could all use a little monastic living once in a while. In the Western Church, Ash Wednesday is soon. When was the last time you fasted? (Don't tell me, I don't want to know). When was the last time you did an act of charity? Your last confession? Do you Pray regularly? We have more than one penance. Our life should regularly be lived as a penance. I went to Confession this morning, I had what some people would consider a rather severe penance, but I love Penance. The harsher the penance, the better! Fasting is a type of self mortification, a way for us to grow in holiness to God. If you can, try to fast at least twice a week (I understand some people have medical problems and may not be able to do so). Don't forget to Pray when you fast, because to paraphrase Matt Fradd, "Fasting without prayer is, well, dieting". God bless.
-Adam Charles Hovey