What do Catholics mean when they say they are fasting?

Along with almsgiving and prayer, fasting is a central Lenten practice. More recently, fasting has emerged as a popular secular dieting practice too. Thanks to the multitrillion-dollar wellness industry, a Google search for “fasting” now generates far more information about fasting as a weight-loss method than it does about fasting as a spiritual practice.

For Catholics, fasting is a collective penitential practice of self-discipline. In keeping with its biblical…

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