Here is a page on the basics of Fasting, followed by a few comments on the practice .
Here is a quote of Pope Pius XII on Our Lady of Lourdes. It was sent to me by a priest friend and I think that if it held true in the time of this Holy Father it is a thousand times more evident in our world today:
“…the world… is … undergoing a terrible temptation to materialism which
has been denounced by Our Predecessors and Ourselves on many
occasions… It rages … in a love of money which creates ever greater havoc
as modern enterprises expand, and which, unfortunately, determines many
of the decisions which weigh heavy on the life of the people. It finds expression in the cult of the body, in excessive desire for comforts, and in flight from all the austerities of life. It encourages scorn for human life, even for life which is destroyed before seeing the light of day. This materialism is present in the unrestrained search for pleasure, which flaunts itself shamelessly and tries, through reading matter and entertainments, to seduce souls which are still pure. It shows itself in lack of interest in one's brother, in selfishness which crushes him, in justice which deprives him of his rights -- in a word, in that concept of life which regulates everything exclusively in terms of material prosperity and earthly satisfactions… To a society which in its public life often contests the supreme rights of God, to a society which would gain the whole world at the expense of its own soul and thus hasten to its own destruction, the
Virgin Mother has sent a cry of alarm.”
Three times in a row did our Blessed Mother ask us to do penance for sinners. In Lent we have the triple admonishment to pray, fast and give alms. Let us renew our efforts during Lent to do what really ought to be a year-round effort for all Christians.
St. Philip Neri encouraged those who struggled with fasting to make a concerted effort to be generous in their almsgiving. In scripture, we have from the Book of Tobit, these words on how almsgiving, done with purity of heart and the intention of pleasing God can make great gains for us in Heaven:
“If you do what is true, your ways will prosper through your deeds. Give alms from your
possessions to all who live uprightly, and do not let your eye begrudge the
gift when you make it. Do not turn your face away from any poor man,
and the face of God will not be turned away from you. If you have many
possessions, make your gift from them in proportion; if few, do not be
afraid to give according to the little you have. So you will be laying up a
good treasure for yourself against the day of necessity” (Tobit 4:6-9).
In the same Book, the Holy Archangel Raphael says,
“Prayer is good when accompanied by fasting, almsgiving, and righteousness. A little with
righteousness is better than much with wrongdoing. It is better to give
alms than to treasure up gold. For almsgiving delivers from death, and it
will purge away every sin” (Tobit 12:8-9).
So let us try to fast well, pray well and tithe well during this holy season, so that we may rejoice all the more at Easter for the gains we have made for sinners (others and ourselves)!