Saint Robert Bellarmine on the Fruits of Fasting, by St. Robert Bellarmine

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By St. Robert Bellarmine, Catholic Exchange, March 8, 2022

Editor’s note: This article is adapted from a chapter in St. Robert Bellarmine’s spiritual classic The Art of Dying Well. It is available as a paperback or ebook from Sophia Institute Press.

Saint Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) was an Italian Jesuit and Cardinal Archbishop of the Catholic Church. Recognized as on of the leading intellectuals of his time, St. Robert played an important role in the Counter-Reformation. He was canonized in 1930 and his feast is on September 17th.

The necessity of fasting is twofold, derived from divine law and human law. Of the divine, the prophet Joel speaks: “Be converted to me with your whole heart, in fasting, and in weeping, and in mourning.” The same language is used by the prophet Jonah, who testifies that the Ninevites, in order to appease the anger of God, proclaimed a fast in sackcloth. And yet, there was not any positive law on fasting then. The same may be learned from the words of our Lord in St. Matthew’s Gospel: “But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head and wash thy face, that thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father, who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, will repay thee.” …

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