Expert Answer Forum
Fasting for elderly QUESTION from Peter Stornebrink June 9, 2000 In Medjugorje Mary has asked to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. I would like to know what the reasons are why the Church does not require elderly perons to fast. (I believe the age limit is 60 or 65 years) Is this for general health reasons? What if a person is in good health? Would you advise against voluntary fasting twice a week in that case? Note that one can eat bread and drink water, apparently as much as one wishes on those days.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on July 5, 2000 Dear Mr. Stornebrink:
As you will discover someday, as we grow older our constitutions change. Sometimes those changes are such that if we don't eat every single day, and maybe even three times a day, we will get sick. This is just the way it is in some cases.
So, yes, it involves health reasons and a recognition that in general after a certain age it may be difficult to fast for medical reasons.
Younger people may experience this too. I am not elderly, I am middle aged, but I too have a tendency to get sick if I fast, or even if I eat fish instead of my normal meal. My personal constitution does not like changes. This is all do to medical conditions that I have, which in a certain way, gives me the aches and pains of a person 30 years older than I am. Thus technically, I am middle ages, medically, I am probably 80 years old.
As far as fasting anyway when one is not required, one can ALWAYS DO MORE than the minimum required by the Church. In fact, the Church WANTS us to do more. We are not a Church of minimum standards.
It is only the immature who will say, well this is all I am required to do, so I would worry about doing anything more.
In this case of fasting, as it is with any devotion, a person may practice it until they are 120 if they want, and if they are able.
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