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4 reasons to fast during Advent

Maria Montemayor

Friday, November 25, 2022

Image by Joe from Pixabay
Lent has always been my favourite season in the liturgical calendar. The best part of Lent, for me, has been fasting. During Lent, I’ve fasted from Facebook, YouTube videos, meat, and even added sugar. Without exception, I’ve always felt cleansed, less dependent on whatever social media or food I gave up, and closer to God after my Lenten fast. 
Last year, I decided to fast during Advent because I benefited so much from fasting every year for Lent. I found that I reaped the same benefits in a shorter period of time. So, I’ve decided to fast again this Advent. If you are unsure about whether or not you should fast for Advent, here are four reasons to make your Advent sacrificial this year.
1. Early Christians fasted before the Nativity and Eastern Christians continue to fast six weeks before Christmas.  
Historically, Advent was viewed as a penitential season. Before changes in 1917, fasting and abstinence on Fridays during Advent was obligatory. While Roman Catholics are no longer obligated to fast, Eastern Christians, including those that attend Orthodox Churches and Eastern Catholic Churches, adhere to the Nativity Fast. The Nativity Fast starts on November 15 and ends on December 24. Observance of this fast includes abstaining from meat, fish, dairy products, olive oil, and wine. 
During the Nativity Fast, Eastern Christians are encouraged to pray, repent (go for Confession), and give alms. Fasting gives Eastern Christians the opportunity to spiritually prepare for the Feast of the Nativity of Jesus (Christmas). The Nativity Fast can serve as a source of inspiration for your personal Advent fast.  
2. Fasting makes you aware of your dependence on God.
Fasting is a spiritual discipline that helps you draw closer to God and rely on Him more. When you fast, you start to recognize how God provides for you and how much you depend on His providence. We often take for granted everything that we have, from our food to our home. 
If you usually spend hours watching YouTube videos, during your fast you can spend that time in Adoration instead. When you start to miss what you gave up, you can offer up your sacrifice to God and remember that He has always taken care of you. Fasting is not about you and what you are capable of, it’s about what God has done and continues to do for you. God gives you the strength to fast.  
3. Fasting can help you turn from your vices.    
There are many things that you can fast from during Advent. In addition to fasting from meat, you can also fast from actions like gossiping and speaking negatively about other people. Fasting can help you repent and turn from your sinful ways. If you truly want to give up sinful habits, you may find yourself strengthened by your resolve and the grace of God.
If the spiritual purpose of your Advent fast is to express repentance and to turn to God, prayer and Confession should be pillars of your fast since turning away from sinful habits is not easy. In the event that you fall from grace, Confession can bring you back on track and prayer can help you maintain your relationship with God.    
4. An Advent fast can help you stick to your new year’s resolution. 
Lastly, starting an Advent fast can help you stick to a resolution that you make in the new year. Many people end up giving up their new year’s resolutions because they struggle to adjust to a new routine (for example, eating healthier or quitting smoking). When you commit to an Advent fast, you grow in patience and perseverance, two key traits that are crucial in forming new habits. The virtues that you develop during your Advent fast can lead to success with your new year’s resolution.
Alternatively, you could decide to continue your fast as your new year’s resolution. Since Advent ends on Christmas, which is close to the new year, it might be easier for you to permanently give up what you fasted from during Advent. You can build on the momentum you developed during Advent and start the new year on a positive note. 

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