...once we got to Lent, our RCIA class began discussing related topics, and one of the first of them was "fasting." About 1/2 the class was Protestant, the other 1/2 returning Catholics, and between them there was almost no thoughts on either the definition or necessity of fasting.If I recall rightly, classical Protestants, magisterial Protestants, didn't discard fasting.
Many of the Protestants said it was an Old Testament idea that the New Testament had "cancelled." Many of the Catholics thought fasting was on the order of "making a deal with God," i.e., starving yourself to get your way.
"Ummm," I chimed in, "does any one in here think fasting has something to do with denying the flesh? Like in 'spiritual discipline'?"
Almost everyone in the class gave me a funny look and a blank stare.
"Well," I said, "Maybe I'm way off!"
"Many of the Catholics thought fasting was on the order of 'making a deal with God,' i.e., starving yourself to get your way."
Which of course they're right to oppose but it's not what the church teaches.
Penance: I steal a thousand dollars. I'm remorseful and go to confession. God forgives (the priest doesn't forgive; God does) but I still owe a thousand dollars.
Discipline: Training in hardship so you can handle real temptation.
Not dieting or even giving the money saved to the poor even though those are good.
The St. Pat's Lenten Friday dispensation: my archdiocese is doing it. Someone has claimed that fewer bishops are. Good and I'm not saying that to be showoffy trad. Because you're supposed to come up with an alternative penance and nobody does. Rather than try to remember, I just don't eat meat on Fridays year round.