As he blogged about his fast, Wilson received numerous interview requests from local and national media outlets, and he chose to forgo some of these requests and step away from using media to focus on the spiritual purpose of his fast.
“The experience proved that the origin story of monks fasting on doppelbock was not only possible but probable,” he concluded.
“It left me with the realization that the monks must have been keenly aware of their own humanity and imperfections. In order to refocus on God, they engaged this annual practice not only to endure sacrifice but to stress and rediscover their own shortcomings in an effort to continually refine themselves.”
Catholics are not obliged to give up solid food for Lent, of course, but they must do penance during the season of Lent in the example of Christ’s 40-day fast in the wilderness, in commemoration of his death and in preparation for Easter.
Catholics in the U.S., if healthy adults aged 18-59, must fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and are encouraged to continue the Good Friday fast through Holy Saturday to the Easter Vigil.
“No Catholic Christian will lightly excuse himself from so hallowed an obligation on the Wednesday which solemnly opens the Lenten season and on that Friday called ‘Good’ because on that day Christ suffered in the flesh and died for our sins,” the U.S. Catholic bishops wrote in their 1966 pastoral letter on fasting.
Fasting is interpreted to mean eating one full meal and two smaller meals that, taken together, do not equal that one full meal. There may be no eating in between meals, and there is no specific mention of liquids in the guidelines.
In their pastoral letter, the bishops also instruct all Catholics to abstain from meat on Fridays in Lent, and “strongly recommend participation in daily Mass and a self-imposed observance of fasting” on other Lenten days, as well as almsgiving, study of the Scriptures, and devotions such as the rosary and the Stations of the Cross.
This article was originally published on CNA March 1, 2017, and was updated March 16, 2023.
Matt Hadro was the political editor at Catholic News Agency through October 2021. He previously worked as CNA senior D.C. correspondent and as a press secretary for U.S. Congressman Chris Smith.