Without going into details, I am doing some extended fasting during Lent and found Pope Francis’ words of warning against what he called “fake fasting” timely and helpful:
When fasting, Pope Francis said, a true Christian must be consistent, not putting himself on show, never despising others or engaging in quarrels or disagreements.
Warning against behavior that is inconsistent with the Lenten spirit, the Pope invited those present to ask themselves how they interact with others.
He reflected on the First Reading of the day that highlights how the fasting that is acceptable to the Lord aims to “release those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke”.
…Isaiah, he said, highlights so many inconsistencies in the practice of virtue, like “carrying out your own pursuits, driving all your laborers, and yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting”,
Fasting, the Pope said, is a little like “stripping oneself” of pride [and]… he said “you cannot talk to God on the one hand and to the devil on the other”.
He also warned against the temptation of ‘showing off’ by fasting: “by making a fuss of it and letting people know that we are practicing Catholics and we do penance, so that people think ‘what a good person’. This is a trick” he said: “It’s pretending to be virtuous”.
Also, Pope Francis has invited all Christians and others of goodwill to fast and pray for peace this coming Friday. If you are able, please consider his words:
“Faced with the tragic protracted situations of conflict in different parts of the world, I invite all the faithful to take part in a special Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace on February 23rd, the Friday of the First Week of Lent”.