What does it mean to fast and why
do we or should we do it?
Many people use fasting as a form of prayer. While reading the
Bible, one will find many examples of fasting from Biblical
leaders. Moses, Elijah, Anna, Paul, Jesus and many others fasted.
Fasting was seen and still is seen as a way to purify the body in
preparation for a deeper style of prayer.
Fasting can be a form of prayer any day, during all times of year.
Catholics are obliged, however to enter a fast on Ash Wednesday and
Good Friday. On these days, Catholics are to only eat one full meal
in the day. This fast is required for all Catholics who are at
least 14 and up to age 60 unless there are extenuating
circumstances barring them from fasting. Others may fast as well as
long as they are healthy.
Abstaining during Lent is often used in reference to not eating
meat. Catholics in America are required to refrain from eating meat
on Fridays in Lent. If one does not typically eat meat, then
abstaining from another typical meal is called for. Abstaining
during Lent is meant to be an act of penance or sacrifice.
Abstaining from meat may also help bring us into solidarity with
the many people around the world who cannot afford to eat
Often our lives can become consumed with “stuff”… be it material
goods, activities, or obligations. We are often lacking for time to
just “be.” Lent is a great time to take a step back from all of the
busyness that consumes us.
As children during Lent, many of us gave up candy or something that
we loved to eat. As we grow older, “giving up” something may mean
different things. It may include “giving up” time to volunteer in
our community or school. Whatever it is that we give up or add on,
the purpose is to help us grow closer to God and prepare ourselves
for the Miracle of Easter.
The following are just some ideas
for simplifying our lives and opening ourselves to God’s
- Spend less time on the computer
- Decide to watch less TV
- Give up Facebook for a week
- Don’t eat fast food
- Send less text messages
- Read a fulfilling book or the Bible
- Go for a walk outside
- Volunteer your time to help others
- Research a social justice issue and enlighten your friends
- Eat simpler meals
For more ideas, go to: http://orb.crs.org.
From the book The World of Street Food by Troth
These recipes are used with permission of the publisher New Internationalist
Lentil Stew (from Ethiopia)
1 cup lentils
1-2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated or 1 teaspoon powdered
½ teaspoon nutmeg, grated
Juice of ½ a lemon
1 teaspoon parsley or cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper
- Put the lentils in a pan with enough water to cover, and bring
to a boil. Skim off any froth with a spoon, and then reduce
the heat and simmer, covered for 15-20 minutes until they are
cooked and crumbly. They should have absorbed most of the moisture;
if not, drain off the excess
- Now heat the oil in another pan and sauté the onions, adding
the garlic after a few minutes when the onions are
- Next, add the chili powder, the ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and
lemon juice. Stir well to combine the ingredients. Pour in a
little water or oil if the mixture begins to catch.
- Spoon the lentils into the spice mix and season. Cook over
gentle heat for 5-10 minutest to let the flavors expand, stirring
frequently so that the mixture does not burn. Again, add more
liquid if necessary to keep it moist. Garnish with parsley or
cilantro and serve with breads or rice.
Bei gu su
Tofu/bean curd with vegetables (from China)
1 pound firm tofu, cubed
½ pound snow peas
1 carrot, cut into julienne sticks (cut finely, like
½ pound mushrooms, finely sliced
4 scallions, chopped
1-inch piece of ginger, grated
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Salt and pepper
- Heat some oil in a pan and fry the tofu until it is golden
- Carefully pour off any excess oil and then add the snow peas,
carrot, mushrooms, 3 scallions, and the ginger. Stir fry briskly
for a couple of minutes. Then add the soy sauce. Add the sugar and
salt to taste.
- Pour on the water and continue to cook. Mix the cornstarch with
a little cold water to make a paste and then pour this into the
plan, stirring to distribute it. Garnish with the remaining
scallion. Serve with rice or noodles.
Flat Bread(from Pakistan)
3½ cups wheat flour
2 cups wholemeal flour
1-2 teaspoons oil
1 teaspoon salt
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl, adding just as much water as
required to make soft but consistent dough. Cover the bowl with a
damp cloth and set aside for 1 hour.
- After that, cut egg-sized pieces and roll out each one on a
floured surface, to roughly 12 inches in diameter.
- Put a little oil in a large frying pan and then lower each
piece of bread into the pan and cook it while you roll out the next
one. After a short time, a few bubbles will appear on top, showing
that it is ready. If you want to be able to freeze or re-heat it,
only cook on one side. Take it out of the pan.
- Cook all the breads in the same way. If you want to freeze
them, turn off the heat before returning them to the frying pan.
Cover it with a lid and leave to cool; then freeze.
Curtido cabbage salad(from El Salvador)
1 pound cabbage, sliced finely
1 carrot, grated
6 scallions, white part only, or 1 onion sliced
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons brown sugar
½ cup vinegar
½ cup water
- Put the cabbage in a saucepan and cover with boiling water.
Turn off the heat, and leave it to sit for 5 minutes, then drain
- Now place the cabbage in a large bowl and add the grated
carrots, scallions/onions, oregano, chili powder, brown sugar,
vinegar, water, and salt. Mix well and then put in the fridge for
an hour or so.