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Fasting | Physically Spiritual S2 E16

Updated: Oct 21, 2021

Growing up, I was told that fasting was a bad idea because my body would “eat its own muscle.” But, the Catholic Church has always had a tradition of fasting. Is she asking her members to forfeit health for holiness? Many contemporary doctors and health enthusiasts proclaim a wide variety of fasting benefits from weight loss, life extension, to fighting chronic disease. This episode of Physically Spiritual will explore how to live the Church’s teachings on fasting while taking advantage of many of the health benefits associated with the practice.

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3:00 Matthew 6: 16 - 18

5:00 Fasting and Health

7:00 Styles of Fasting

11:30 Framework for Understanding Fasting

19:00 What Happens at Different Lengths of Fasting

27:00 Possible Problems with Fasting

30:30 Temperance v. Fasting

32:15 Reasons to Fast

35:45 Fasting for Health and Holiness

41:00 The Church’s Fasting Requirements

45:15 Tips for Voluntary Fasts


“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to others to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” Matthew 6: 16 - 18 -

Dr. Jason Fung, The Fasting Method -

Dr. Valter Longo, Fasting Mimicking -

Fasting Styles:

Timed Eating - 16 - 23 hours

Intermittent Fasting - 24 - 47 hours

Extended Fasting - 2 or more days

Fasting alternatives:

Protein Sparing Modified Fast -

Intestinal Stem Cell Stimulation and Fasting (MIT Study) -

“First Way. The first is as to eating. That is to say, when we leave off the superfluous, it is not penance, but temperance. It is penance when we leave off from the suitable; and the more and more, the greater and better—provided that the person does not injure himself, and that no notable illness follows” St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises -
Matthew 17: 21 - “But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting” -
“Jesus' call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, "sackcloth and ashes," fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1430 -
“Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one's life, with hope in God's mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus (affliction of spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of heart).” Ibid. 1431 -
“The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church's penitential practice. These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works).” Ibid. 1438 -

“Can. 1250 The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

Can. 1253 The conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast.

2043 The fourth precept ("You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church") ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.” Code of Canon Law on Days of Fasting & Penitence -

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