Fasting knows no debtor, nor is it aware of the burden of debt. The table of men who fast is not savored with borrowed money. In fact, fasting adds pleasure to the festal meals. After hunger, the dishes which are repulsive because of their frequency and grow disgusting in their daily repetition, become more tasty. Fasting is a condiment to food. The sharper the appetite, the more agreeable the food.
In the Gospel of Mark (9:28) when the Apostles asked Our Lord why they were not able to cast out the devil in the possessed man, He answered, “This kind can not be cast out but by prayer and fasting”.
The Benedictines of Mary attempt to observe the monastic fast as described in the Holy Rule of St. Benedict, to assist the priest in casting out the Evil One from society.
Therefore, one full meal is taken during Lent Proper and Monastic Lent (September to Lent). Optional “collations” (small meals) are available according to the present ecclesiastical rules of fasting.
We have found fasting, when undertaken with prudence, is a real utility toward prayerful recollection, and a joyful expression of our dependence upon God.
“My meat is to do the will of Him Who sent me, that I may perfect His work … For in this is the saying true: That it is one man that soweth and another that reapeth.” Jn. 31-37.
We know that God receives this gift and takes the fruit to feed the souls of His priests.
By experience, we can also affirm St. Ambrose’s notion that fasting intensifies each feast.
Our lives “should be a continuous Lent, though few have the strength for it,” as the Rule says. As Lent prepares us for Easter, so the daily fast intensifies the joy of Sundays and feastdays.
Thus we enjoy the strange paradox of penance in this life and yet a joyful anticipation of the Eternal banquet that is to come!