We had only been dating for a month when the semester ended and the bleak reality struck: my boyfriend and I were going to part ways for the long months of summer. During our conversations as the break stretched before us, we discussed fasting for each other and our relationship. Each week, on a specific day, we would each offer up a special sacrifice for the other person and our relationship. As the weeks went by, I began to see just how powerful this was. Not only did our fasting strengthen our prayers for each other, but we were also growing in self-mastery and discipline. I began to realize just how important this practice is when striving for purity.
- Fasting can be beneficial for anybody—even if a person isn’t trying to overcome a big obstacle.
Many people recommend fasting from something pleasurable (snacking, dessert, condiments, etc.) if one is overcoming a sexual sin or addiction. This is very important, as the discipline of fasting helps one grow in self-mastery while overcoming certain struggles. However, if one doesn’t struggle with a particular addiction, then fasting may not seem as crucial. Throughout my teenage years, I read articles that recommended fasting if one was overcoming pornography. But, since I did not deal with that addiction, fasting for purity did not seem as vital to me, so it was not something I did often. Occasionally, I would fast from something “for my future husband,” but it was never a consistent habit of mine. In the handful of years since my boyfriend and I first began fasting and offering sacrifices for each other, I have continued to see the fruits of this in our marriage as we daily put aside our own desires for the sake of each other.
- Fasting shows me that I am more than a collection of spontaneous urges.
When I fast from something pleasurable, I realize that I do not have to be ruled by my desires. Isn’t it somewhat obvious that the human person is more than a collection of desires? Well, in the eyes of the media and our culture, this is what the human person is often reduced to. In fact, I recently read an article in which a person claimed that cheating on one’s spouse has nothing to do with a lack of love, but rather it is about a fulfillment of sexual urges—which, in his eyes, is acceptable. Our culture consistently promotes a similar message. Movies often glowingly portray people who act on every urge or whim that they have. Instant gratification, particularly involving physical intimacy and sex, is a topic mentioned in countless songs that resound across the radio. Yet, even when the culture tells me that I am a slave to my urges and desires, fasting reminds me that I have the ability to control how I act. Fasting will not necessarily prevent inappropriate urges from affecting us, but practicing self-denial through fasting will help us deal with these desires in chaste, loving ways.
- Fasting helps me grow in sacrificial love.
I struggle with selfishness, and there are times when I only want to do things for myself. Fasting helps me put aside selfishness and think about what is best for another person. When I want to dive into the mound of chocolate on the kitchen table, but restrain myself because I’m fasting for my husband and purity, I am putting aside my own desires in love of another person. Sacrificing what I want, I am turning my gaze outwards to grow in selflessness.
As we fast, we can all grow in self-mastery and sacrificial love. Some people choose to fast from snacking; others choose to fast from dessert, coffee creamers, or condiments. You can fast daily, or fast periodically—the possibilities are endless. Maybe you struggle with a certain obstacle, or maybe you experience small daily challenges. Regardless of what you face, I encourage you to consider the timeless practice of fasting. Together, we can grow in self-discipline and sacrificial love, enriching the culture that surrounds us.
AnneMarie Miller received degrees in English and Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville in May 2015. She passionately loves the Catholic Faith, chastity, St. Francis of Assisi, and frolicking around barefoot. In August 2013, she was blessed to marry her incredible husband, and the two of them enjoy the epic adventures of young married life in the Midwest. When she’s not writing, reading, playing board games, or working, AnneMarie reflects on life’s beauty and various quirky observations on her blog, Sacrifice of Love (http://marianninja.blogspot.com).