The article, “How Fasting Brings Spiritual Power”, by Jennifer Kennedy Dean states
“More than any other observance, this discipline will sharpen our spiritual senses so that we can tap into our divine source.Jesus expected His disciples to fast.”
American Institute Health Care Professionals‘s insight:
Fasting is a key to spiritual purification. It helps one become stronger against the passions by teaching self denial. It also helps us to offer our love and suffering to Christ. Through Christ our deeds of fasting can gain merit as we unite our heart with his. If you are interested in learning more about Christian Counseling, then please click here
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St. Ignatius Loyola presented a disciplined version of meditation that while disciplined also gave freedom to the soul to explore numerous images of contemplation about Christ and sin. As founder of the Jesuits, he incorporated a military type religious movement that not only characterized his order but also his meditation techniques.This disciplined form of meditation is key in helping the soul overcome the weakness of one’s fallen nature and creating a soul better equipped to reform and avoid sin.Christian Counselors as well as merely spiritual counselors can all find value in the writings of St. Ignatius and his spiritual exercises in regards to meditation.
St. Ignatius offered a unique form of meditation
Ignatian spirituality and meditation is clearly traditional in regards to approach. It is a contemplative based meditation that finds its peace in silence and solitude.The person meditating is to reflect on the life of Christ and apply the particular meditation to one’s particular situation.These usages of imagery help the soul excite inner yearnings for spiritual reform in Christ.While clearly outlined in the Spiritual Exercises on what particular meditations one should follow, St. Ignatius also gives the initiate freedom to expound on the required mystery within their own mystical experience.As one completes the Spiritual Exercises, they will discover theyhave meditated and contemplated on a variety of spiritual visions regarding Christ and the supernatural world that are purposely placed out to give the soul the most maximum benefit for spiritual reform and renewal.
One of the primary themes found in meditation by St. Ignatius is his great emphasis on sin and repentance. Many of the contemplations deal directly with the soul’s sins and how horrible sin is to the life of the soul.Hence many reflections revolve around the passion of Christ, Hell, and how sin has corrupted the human race.It is St. Ignatius’ goal to inspire within the soul a complete aversion of sin via perfect contrition that burns for the love of Christ. This Christocentric form of meditation is obviously best suited for Christian Counseling but the rich spiritual nature of the meditations and exercises can also be applied to general spiritual counseling because it focuses on discernment and vocational choices as well. While Christocentric, the primary goal is help the soul escape sin and rid itself of earthly attachments.This is the key for most meditative processes.
Ignatian spirituality can also be applied to the Lenten season or the Great Fast. St. Ignatius in his “Spiritual Exercises” laid out important guiding principles in proper fasting.
St. Ignatius points out that there is interior fasting which deals with the formation of moral character and exterior fasting which deals with sacrifices and pennances of a bodily fashion. This exterior fasting is a result of the interior fasting and yearning of the soul to show pennance.
According to St. Ignatius, denial of superfluous things is not fasting. Fasting does not include giving up special treats, but is a sacrifice that revolves around ordinary things that we deal with everyday. This is not to devalue sacrifices, but it is important to delineate between exercises in temperance and true fasting.
St. Ignatius listed three primary ways one can fast. The first he listed was food intake. In this, Ignatius reflects the values of the Church and its mandates for denial of meat and other meals during a proper fast day. The second type of fasting deals with denial of sleep. Sleep deprivation or removing basic comforts for sleep are encouraged for those who wish to fast this way. However, St. Ignatius emphasizes that one should not eliminate sleep if it hurts one’s health and prevents them from functioning in one’s daily duty. Finally, St. Ignatius stated that temporal suffering can be applied as long as it does not permanently harm the body. Examples of sack clothe that are hidden underneath one’s clothes is a perfect example for this.
Ultimately St. Ignatius believed fasting was meant to show Christ how much we love him and how much we wish to carry our crosses with him. St. Ignatius felt that such fasting would benefit the soul by teaching it mastery and discipline over the passions. He also saw fasting as important for petituion and reparation for sin. Christian Counselingsessions should also utilize these concepts.