Fasting and Religion


fasting, partial or temporary abstinence from food, a widely used form of asceticism. Among the stricter Jews the principal fast is the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur; in Islam the faithful fast all the daytime hours of the month of Ramadan. Fasting is general in Christianity. The most widely observed fasts are Lent and Advent. Both of these are preliminary to seasons of great rejoicing, and traditionally the vigils of several feasts were also kept as fasts, e.g. (in the West), those of Christmas, Easter, Whitsunday, the Assumption, and All Saints. Ember days were also fasts in the West. Protestants have generally abandoned fasting, but in New England an annual Fast Day was proclaimed (in Massachusetts until the 20th cent.). In the late 1990s there was renewed interest among evangelical Christians in the United States in fasting and prayer as a means of spiritual revival. The Roman Catholic Church differentiates between fasting (eating only one full meal and little else in a day) and abstinence (eating no flesh meat). In 1966, Pope Paul VI issued Poenitemini, an apostolic constitution reorganizing the discipline of the Catholic Church. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are now the only required days of fast. The observance of Fridays as days of abstinence is now urged rather than, as formerly, made a matter of obligation. Roman Catholics are asked to abstain from food and drink for one hour prior to receiving communion. Fasting and hunger strikes have also been used by various political and social activists to bring attention to the causes they support.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Fasting and Religion: Selected full-text books and articles

FREE! The Catechism of Thomas Becon, S. T. P. Chaplain to Archbishop Cranmer, Prebendary of of Canterbury, &c: With Other Pieces Written by Him in the Reign of Kind Edward the Sixth
Thomas Becon; John Ayre.
University Press, 1844
Librarian’s tip: "A Fruitful Treatise on Fasting" begins on p. 523
Augustine the Bishop: The Life and Work of a Father of the Church
F. van der Meer; Brian Battershaw; G. R. Lamb.
Sheed & Ward, 1961
Librarian’s tip: "Fasting" begins on p. 177
FREE! The Candle of the Lord: And Other Sermons
Phillips Brooks.
E. P. Dutton and Company, 1881
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XII "Fasting"
Religious Melancholy and Protestant Experience in America
Julius H. Rubin.
Oxford University Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Discusses fasting in multiple chapters
FREE! The Psychological Phenomena of Christianity
George Barton Cutten.
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1908
Librarian’s tip: "Fasting" begins on p. 127
Dealing with Religious Diversity in the Work Place: A Managerial Guide and Religious Calendar for 1994
Pearce, John A.,, III.
SAM Advanced Management Journal, Vol. 59, No. 1, Winter 1994
Holy Men and Hunger Artists: Fasting and Asceticism in Rabbinic Culture
Eliezer Diamond.
Oxford University Press, 2003
Because It Gives Me Peace of Mind: Ritual Fasts in the Religious Lives of Hindu Women
Anne Mackenzie Pearson.
State University of New York Press, 1996
Gandhi's Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth
M. K. Gandhi; Mahadev Desai.
Public Affairs Press, 1948
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XXXI "Fasting"
A Reader on Classical Islam
F. E. Peters.
Princeton University Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: "O Believers, Fasting Is Enjoined on You" begins on p. 252
Hungry Together
Repohl, Roger F.
Commonweal, Vol. 124, No. 3, February 14, 1997
From Feasting to Fasting, the Evolution of a Sin: Attitudes to Food in Late Antiquity
Veronika E. Grimm.
Routledge, 1996
Born Again Bodies: Flesh and Spirit in American Christianity
R. Marie Griffith.
University of California Press, 2004
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