Tuesday 5 February 2019

Christian Fasting Disciplining the Body, Awakening the Spirit - Sister Mary David Totah - CTS Deeper Christianity Series

Christian Fasting:
Disciplining the Body, Awakening the Spirit
CTS Deeper Christianity Series
Sister Mary David Totah
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860827723
eISBN 9781784692537
CTS Booklet SP34

I love the books and booklets that I have read from the Catholic Truth Society. I have read about 50 of these booklets over the last year, some out of print for over 100 years, and some just published in 2018. The books span a wide range of topics, from biographies, church teaching, lives of the popes, Christian living, and more. And there are several series. This book is part of the Deeper Christianity Series, and currently there are 16 tiles in print in this series, and this is the second that I have read from this series.

Fasting has been an area of interest to me for thirty years now. When I was a university student ai went to a conference with Campus Crusade for Christ over New years 1989, and the leader Bill Bright was challenging Christians, and Christian leaders to fast for the 40 days of Lent. From that point on I have been fascinated with Fasting from both the Spiritual and Physical benefits. One of the best books I have read on the subject was God's Chosen Fast by Arthur Wallis. Written by a medical doctor and Christian.

This book was an interesting little read. I cannot say there was much new information for me, but it was a great refresher. Because of the size of this volume it is easily accessible and a great beginning for those considering this spiritual discipline. The chapters in the volume are:

The nature of Fasting
Fasting in Other Traditions
Fasting in the Old Testament
Fasting in the Teaching and Mystery of Christ
The Fast of the Church
Fasting and the Spiritual Life
The Friday Penance – Rediscovering Catholic Identity
The Value and Meaning of Fasting
Questions and Answers

Sister Mary David starts this book by stating:

“Fasting, in our days, has become one of the most neglected spiritual practices. Because of misunderstandings regarding the nature of fasting, Christians tend to fast very little, or disregard fasting altogether. Yet fasting was practised by Christ himself.”

She then proceeds to remind us of Jesus fast for 40 days in the desert, and of Jesus saying some spirits only come out by prayer and fasting. She also highlights Paul’s writings on the importance of fasting. In the section called ‘Physical and Spiritual Aspects’ she states:

“In the Church’s tradition, fasting is much more than a penance. Fasting for the Christian has two aspects: physical and spiritual, outward and inward. On the outward level, fasting involves physical abstinence from food and drink; yet rules about eating and drinking must never be treated as an end in themselves, for fasting has always an inward, spiritual purpose. Man is a unity of body and soul, and our fasting is a practice that involves both. So fasting will also include abstinence from evil thoughts, desires, and deeds.”

Overall Sister Mary Davis does a wonderful job in examining Fasting, in its historical context, compares it to other Christian traditions, Jewish customs, and even mentions non-Christian fasting practices. She highlights some of the church teaching on the topic, and changes to that teachings over the years. This is a well written little volume, that would be of benefit to any who read it and try and grow in knowledge and practice of this discipline. And I look forward to reading other books by Sister Mary David, and other volumes in the Deeper Christianity Series.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books in the Deeper Christianity Series:

7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit
8 Deadly Sins Learning to Defend the Life of Grace
Catholic Architecture 
Christian Fasting Disciplining the Body, Awakening the Spirit
Deepening Prayer Life Defined by Prayer
Desire & Delight
Faith, Hope and Love The Theological Virtues
Fruits of the Holy Spirit Living a Happy Life
Lectio Divina Spiritual Reading of the Bible
Making Sunday Special

Mary in the Liturgy
Mary Mysteries of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Providence and Prayer
Prayer in Sadness and Sorrow

Prudence, Justice, Courage, and Temperance
Purgatory A Mystery of Love
Spiritual Warfare Fighting the Good Fight
The Call to Evangelise: Founded on loving intimacy with the Lord
The Church's Year Unfolding the Mysteries of Christ
The Name of God The Revelation of the Merciful Presence of God
Understanding The Story Of The Bible
Union with God

Other Books by Sister Mary David Totah:
A Divine Gift: The Consecrated Life
Deepening Prayer
The Spirit of Solesmes
The Joy of God: Collected Writings 

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