Lent 2021 | Fasting

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6


Week 1


While many are familiar with the fasting regulations of the Church, including the standard "one full meal and two lesser ones not equaling it," how did the Church arrive at these regulations?  Where did it all begin?

Fasting during Lent has a fascinating history and ever-evolving role in the Lenten season, though it continues to be one of the traditional and foundational themes.  The History of Lent by Fr. William Saunders includes great detail about the evolution of fasting during Lent - from 40 days of abstaining from food and drink to the more loose interpretations of today - and the common practice of giving something up for Lent.

While the article Why Catholics Fast: Searching for the Tradition by Carole Garibaldi Rogers in America is almost 20 years old, the history and explanation for fasting in the church is enlightening and examines the discipline in light of today's world.

Two questions arose: is there a place for Lenten fasting in contemporary Catholic spirituality? And how would such a discipline be constructed not only in light of Scripture and tradition, but also in light of contemporary insights and concerns?

Fasting Resources

This week, we share an article pertinent to our time Lenten Fast in a Global Pandemic, which looks at the four reasons for fasting and how to use the practice to better reflect on the experience of this pandemic.

Four Reasons for Fasting: 

1. Preparation for a feast

2. Penance and atonement for sins

3. Acknowledgment that all we have comes from God

4. Solidarity with those who live in want

Week 2

Focusing Our Fast

This reflection in the Ignatian Lent series highlights Eric Clayton, Senior Communications Manager, Jesuit Conference. Here, listen to his reflection "Fasting as Contemplation in Action."  How might your fasting be a reflection of Ignatius' call to be contemplatives in action?

Give new dimension to your fasting this year by choosing an intention behind it.

Eating Simply

Eating simply during Lent does not have to be dull. Search these meatless recipes from around the world, compiled by CRS Rice Bowl. Or find inspiration from Creighton Online Ministries' Cooking Lent page. 

Do you have a traditional or favorite family Lent recipe to share with the group? Email the recipe so we can share it with the group!

While fasting is about going without, think more about what you can gain, who you can invite in, and what you might just have left over to GIVE this Lent.

Week 3

Life Laundry

We understand fasting as "giving something up." Why not also consider what we might gain from giving up burdens we carry? We all have emotional and physical burdens we carry with us. Watch as Fr. Paul Campbell, SJ, reflects on doing a little "life laundry."

Watch this entertaining video from Jesuit Autocomplete, a program of America Media, to find answers to interesting questions about Ash Wednesday (we know we're a little late on this, but we think you'll enjoy learning these tidbits), including why we fast.

While you're at it, search 'Jesuit Autocomplete' in the YouTube search bar to find all three seasons of videos from these hilarious Jesuits answering some the most common questions about the Church, the Jesuits, and Saint Ignatius!


Week 4

Guide to Fasting

Enjoy this visual guide to Lenten fasting and abstinence from Jonathan Teixeira.

Week 5

A Lenten Challenge

Jose Sanchez shares a reflection for Ignatian Lent about Embracing a Lenten Challenge.

Take the Ignatian Carbon Challenge and fast from food waste this year.





Challenge yourself to focus on anti-racism this Lent with these Jesuit resources for racial justice.



Give up 10 minutes of your day for 40 days to pray, advocate, and give alms in solidarity with refugees with the 400 Minutes for 4 Refugees JRS challenge.


How do we choose what to give up for Lent?

Like Aunt Rose giving up celery (see last week's member reflection from Tom Nolan), traditionally, Lent is a sacrificial period when followers of Christ are called to give something up. Choosing what to give up is more than imposing a divine motivation for dieting (giving up sweets), or going 40 days without caffeine (definition of insanity?). We are called to practice self-denial and to strengthen our will. We are called to reflect on our lives and the things that get in the way of our relationship with God. For each person, the answer will be different.

What gets in between you and God and keeps you from a deeper connection?

You might be inspired by learning what others have chosen to forgo this year. Read what America Magazine's editors are giving up this Lent!

Week 6


During this season of Lent, and especially during Holy Week, it is important to purify our minds, to come to God during this time with the right mindset. 

Try Fasting in Body - and Mind - During Lent

Have you ever wondered why statues are veiled during Lent, and particularly in the last weeks of Lent, through Good Friday? Learn about this practice of preparation in this article by Philip Kosloski.