U.S. Catholic Book Club: The Spirituality of Fasting

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The Spirituality of Fasting: Rediscovering a Christian Practice by Msgr. Charles Murphy

Review: Rather than woefully lamenting the loss of the Catholic tradition of fasting, Msgr. Charles Murphy challenges his readers to recover and adapt the practice for today. He agrees that the legalisms associated with fasting in the pre-Vatican II era needed to be discarded, but he also believes that, among other benefits, this age-old spiritual discipline can bring communities together, makes us more aware of the connection between body and soul, and increases our desire for and reliance upon God.

The Spirituality of Fasting offers more than just an argument, though, for why we should fast. It serves as a useful handbook, complete with history, reflection questions, and suggestions for how to translate this valuable ancient practice into our lives. Give it a try this Lent. —Meghan Murphy-Gill, Assistant Editor, U.S. CATHOLIC

Here are a few discussion questions provided in The Spirituality of Fasting:

1. How can I make sure that my religious beliefs are more than an intellectual exercise but are reflected and actualized in the way I live every day?

2. Jesus specifically forbids grimness when we fast. He wants us to appear light-hearted even as we deny ourselves. When I deny myself something, what is my attitude?

3. Most of us have some experience of being part of a group, such as a team, in which everyone has acted together. Is my experience of the pillars of Christianity-prayer, fasting, and charity-similar to this, or different?

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