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Are We Supposed to Fast During Advent?


A fan named Patricia asks if we are required to fast during Advent, and uses the example of abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent.

Father Dave points out that unlike Lent, we are not required to abstain from meat on Fridays during Advent. However, we are called to a penitential disposition every Friday of the year. “All Fridays of the year are still a time that Catholics are supposed to make themselves aware, in a penitential way, of their need for God’s forgiveness. That is by some sort of act, disposition, or time in prayer. That is what we call penitential, doing something that will either cause us to sacrifice or do without something. It’s something that is not a daily practice for us.”

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“You can choose to abstain from meat during the Fridays of Advent, and you can also choose to do that every Friday of the year if you want… Originally, when Advent was created, the Church did give it a little bit more of a penitential feeling as a season similar to Lent… During Lent we become more aware of our sinfulness and shortcomings, and our need for the cleansing waters of Baptism to forgive. Advent is more about longing and hoping for Christ’s coming in various ways. We’re anticipating the feast that commemorates when Christ came 2000 years ago, but it also focuses on the second coming of Christ at the end of time.” 

Father Dave encourages us to ask ourselves how we can embody the image and likeness of Jesus this season and over the course of our Christian lives. “We are hoping for Christ’s coming, while being realistic and preparing our hearts to receive him.”