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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does much to promote discipline of fasting, February 18, 2010
This review is from: The Spirituality of Fasting: Rediscovering a Christian Practice (Paperback)
Back in 1966, Pope Paul VI issued the apostolic constitution on fast and abstinence, "Poenitemini". The intent was "to rescue fasting from the legalism and minimalism into which it had fallen." The goal was not to remove fasting and penance and sacrifice from Catholic life, but rather to make it a personal choice rather than a command issued from above. Unfortunately, many Catholics took this to mean that these practices simply weren't necessary anymore. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are still called today to fast. Msgr. Charles M. Murphy has written "The Spirituality of Fasting" in order to renew "the practice of fast and abstinence based upon a deeper understanding of its role in our religious life."

In this relatively brief book (105 pages), Murphy explores the many reasons why fasting is important: it integrates prayer as being both of body and spirit, it is part of a long-standing tradition of Jewish and Christian practice, it helps to heal our relationship with God, and it helps us stand in solidarity with the poor and hungry. Overall his discussion of these points is extremely well-done. Based firmly in the witness of the Bible and pillars of the Christian faith, his argument that fasting is important and necessary is a strong one.

This being said, I offer one minor criticism. Murphy offers the example of Simone Weil in his chapter on standing in solidarity with others. He writes: "Simone Weil died on September 3, 1943, in exile from France in England, at the age of thirty-four, having starved herself to death. Suffering from tuberculosis, she refused in solidarity with her countrymen in Nazi-occupied France, to eat more than they were able to eat. She stands as a witness to social justice and to the significance and hazards of religious fasting." That word "hazards" indicates that Murphy did realize that Weil went too far. However, in the following paragraphs he really does hold her up as a role model. I respectfully disagree. Fasting to the detriment of one's body is not in keeping with the respect God wants us to have for our bodies.

Thankfully, in the chapter which offers practical ways to incorporate fasting into one's life, he advocates a much more healthy take on fasting. Following in the footsteps of St. Francis de Sales, he writes: "Your work and state in life are primary; fasting should not impede your ability to perform your duties , or endanger your health." I like that, unlike some other books on fasting that I have read, he acknowledges the worth of a partial fast - of simply giving up one meal, or cutting back on what one eats. He also agrees there is much to be said for other types of fasting and sacrifice, such as fast from media, or talking unnecessarily.

Murphy also makes the important fact that fasting is not a negative activity - it is a life-giving one. In truth, it enables us to feast. Just as one cannot appreciate light without the darkness, one can not truly appreciate feasting until one has experienced some lack. "We fast not just for fasting's sake, but to be able to feast, to live in the present with great pleasure and a joy that lasts."

"The Spirituality of Fasting" does much to encourage readers to make the practice of fasting part of their lives. It is good reading for Lent or for any time of the year!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fasting for Lent, March 7, 2010
By 
Bruce D. Baker "Fr. Bruce" (Wernersville, PA, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Spirituality of Fasting: Rediscovering a Christian Practice (Paperback)
I wanted to do some fasting for Lent. The book presents fasting in a balanced Christian context. I resonated with the wholistic approach. Fasting is not punishing the body but bringing my body back into my awareness and affirming that I am inspirited matter (or embodied spirit.). Like many folks, I have used and abused my body as a tool rather than affirming it as the form of my soul. The author avoids a dualistic approach and positively motivates the reader to claim this ancient practice for restoring our balance as human beings. Author is Roman Catholic but the wisdom in rooted the catholic tradition and grounded in the teachings of ancient and contemporary theologians in both the east and west. A fresh perspective that is healthy and authentic!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The "spirit of the law" for fasting, January 11, 2011
This review is from: The Spirituality of Fasting: Rediscovering a Christian Practice (Paperback)
In The Spirituality of Fasting: Rediscovering a Christian Practice, Charles M. Murphy offers a theological reflection on fasting which is at once centuries old and yet as fresh as this week's tabloids.

Citing Church teaching and modern psychology, Murphy exhibits a deep understanding of the human condition, yet he aspires to the "transformation of our total being--mind, body, and spirit" to which religious fasting provides a powerful means. Beyond fasting for diet or medical reasons, religious fasting is "an act of humility before God.... Its aim is nothing less than helping us to become more loving persons, loving God above all and our neighbor as ourselves."

The Spirituality of Fasting is particularly engaging to contemporary readers who are searching for something more. Murphy melds spiritual teachings with practical examples and suggestions to create a compelling and accessible case for fasting. We live in a time of instant gratification, and have come to view longing as a negative state which must be remedied quickly. To do without is perceived as weakness. Fasting invites us to embrace the power of emptiness--not our own power, but God's power, moving in and through the void to bring his beloved creatures, made in God's own image and likeness, into greater fullness of life. The Spirituality of Fasting is a prophetic invitation to experience God's rich compassion and generosity in the midst of the empty promises of our times.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LENT - A NEW LOOK AT AN OLD PRACTICE, February 26, 2013
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I decided to purchase this book so that I would renew my thoughts about the Lenten practice of the Fast. I am not sorry - it is a very nice book, loaded with information that I never knew about - it makes the practice of Fasting more inviting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lost Catholic Practice, February 10, 2014
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Greg (Concord, CA) - See all my reviews
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I have been Catholic for over 30 years and no one has ever explained the value of fasting. So, I really gave it little attention except to eat smaller meals on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. This book help point out the value fasting can have in spiritual growth.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love This Book..., August 6, 2013
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This review is from: The Spirituality of Fasting: Rediscovering a Christian Practice (Paperback)
and it deserves more than just seven reviews. It is a beautiful book, detailing the history and purpose of fasting for spirituality and giving some tips along the way on easy, non-complicated methods of doing so (like skipping a meal). It is written in user-friendly, easy-to-understand language. It is a wonderful book.

I became interested in intermittent fasting for health reasons, after reading the book The 8 Hour Diet and then researching intermittent fasting. But as time went on and I was drawing closer to Jesus, I wanted to fast for spiritual rather than vanity reasons. I wanted to learn why traditional fasting was so faith-based.

This book is under the Religion/Catholic category, but anyone interested in spirituality-based fasting can glean wonderful information from it. I'm Jewish born and now I consider myself Lutheran (just a step away from Catholicism!), and I feel so blessed to have found this book.

(Edited on 12/17/13 to reflect that now I am studying to become Catholic. Woo hoo!!!!)

I cannot recommend it highly enough if you are ready to make the transition from vanity-based fasting to spiritual-based fasting. You won't be disappointed. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, February 18, 2014
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This review is from: The Spirituality of Fasting: Rediscovering a Christian Practice (Paperback)
Gives clear and understandable directives not only on the teaching of the Catholic church, but good ideas on how to adapt the reading to my life. I'm sharing it with a friend.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, October 22, 2013
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Excellent book that covers that history and many perspectives of spiritual fasting. I found it not only comprehensive though also interactive.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fasting, March 30, 2013
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This review is from: The Spirituality of Fasting: Rediscovering a Christian Practice (Paperback)
I highly recommend this book that brings so much meaning and understanding to what has become a forgotten part of our culture and faith.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great condition, February 13, 2013
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This review is from: The Spirituality of Fasting: Rediscovering a Christian Practice (Paperback)
I appreciate that the book was in great condition--new. I did not like the bar code on the book, since that did mar the book when it was removed. But the book itself was in great condition
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The Spirituality of Fasting: Rediscovering a Christian Practice
The Spirituality of Fasting: Rediscovering a Christian Practice by Charles M. Murphy (Paperback - January 18, 2010)
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