By Michaela Hillam
WHEN I was a kid, my Mum made us fast or eat simply on Good Friday.
It was tough and I hated it – no biscuit before dinner, no meat, but we were met with a mountain of fish and chips after sun down.
I think the reason I struggled so much with it was twofold – because I didn’t really understand the why of fasting and because it wasn’t my choice.
Nowadays it is my choice.
No one is forcing me to.
I have no one to blame for the grumble in my stomach but myself, so I don’t blame anyone.
I embrace it.
If my stomach grumbles, it is a good thing.
Which leads me to the “why”.
I learn more about this every time I practise fasting.
I especially learn when I am put in a situation of having to explain myself to others, when I’m met with strange looks following questions like, “just bread for lunch?” or “what do you mean you don’t want a coffee?”
It’s those moments where my private relationship with God becomes a witness to the people around me.
It does make me wonder, though, whether there will be any reward left in Heaven.
But I remind myself, that though the Lord said to not let others know of our fasting (Matthew 6:1-21), that sometimes it’s good to share about our private relationship with God as it helps others.
That’s why we read the saints, right?
I digress in an attempt to not appear prideful.
I can’t seem to win.
Anyway, my point is, the reason I fast is because I’ve come to see just how much I rely on food for more than just sustenance – it’s a crutch when I’m bored, when I’m feeling down, when I’m lonely.
But I only realise this when it is removed from my daily life.
It forces me to remember that life is not about being constantly entertained.
It forces me to rely on Him for joy and comfort. It forces me to ask Jesus to be my source of strength.
It also unites me with Him – my minute suffering with His suffering of the cross.
With the very nature of fasting being a private practice, it doesn’t get talked about enough.
So I’m rather under the impression that it’s a lost form of prayer in our Church in Australia.
Am I right in my assumption?
Let’s get the conversation going.
Is fasting a part of your life?
How do you do it? When do you do it?
Why do you do it?
Michaela Hillam is a Catholic blogger from Brisbane.