All fasting, poverty, obedience, humility - all of the virtues have everything to do with doing without. If I’m humble, I do without my pride. If I’m obedient, I do without my will. If I’m poor, I do without things. Doing without suddenly makes you possess all of those virtues: obedience, humility, poverty, and freedom. What an amazing thing.
Let’s read this little bit on fasting in the Scripture. Some people came to Jesus and said, ‘Why is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of fasting while the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then, on that day, they will fast.’ (Mk 2:18-20)
Do you realise what he is saying? Right away we think they’re going to eat while Jesus is around and they’re not going to eat when he is gone. That isn’t what he’s saying. Did they not fast in the most awesome way when our dear Lord was taken away from them? The privilege of getting up in the morning and looking at his face, of seeing him all day long, of hearing the words of the Son of God, of going to bed at night and knowing that in the morning they would see him there - all that was taken from them. Is that the fasting that Our Lord meant when he said, ‘the bridegroom will be taken away from them and on that day they will fast?’ You bet. Isn’t that what aridity is: the absence of God’s consolation, the absence of spiritual feeling? Isn’t that the source of so many of our problems? Is that not like the bridegroom leaving you?
So ask yourself sometime as you examine your conscience (and I hope you do at least once a day at some point), when you have a problem, ask yourself, ‘What is the source of this?’ And I’ll make a bet it’ll be one thing: You cannot do without. You can’t do without a wonderful consolation from God or a wonderful light. You cannot do without food, you cannot do without electricity, you cannot do without compliments, and you cannot do without your own will: you cannot do without! I think if we examined ourselves on that one point, we would understand fasting. It seems to me that virtue is intimately tied to that understanding.
I’ve seen some terribly penitential people when it came to food, and they were impossibly hard to get along with. I’m not knocking fasting from food, I’m just saying that it is only one way to fast; there are other ways. If we fasted from
our will, for instance, or from our vanity; those are awesome ways to fast. Try it sometime.
Mother Angelica’s Private and Pithy Lessons from the Scriptures