Fasting vs Abstinence
Difference between fasting and abstinence should be understood well when it comes to the religious sphere. Fasting and Abstinence are two terms that are often confused due to the similarity in their meanings and concepts. According to Christianity and the teachings of the Lord, the Church directs the devotees to fast on certain days and abstain from meat and other types of food on certain days. The other types of food may include even dairy products. Since it is not easy to remember the days of fasting and abstinence, it is usual on the part of the calendar issued by the Church that it contains all the dates marked legibly for the convenience of the Catholics.
What is Fasting?
Fasting consists in going without food and drink for a specific period of time. It also consists in limiting the food that one normally consumes. It is interesting to note that the fasting days according to the Catholic Church are the First Day of Lent and Good Friday. Fast days are observed in such a manner that the faithful Catholics do not consume meat or dairy products but feed only on one meal or on snacks. The sick need not harm their bodies by fasting or abstinence though.
However, fasting is not done only in Christianity. Even in other religions such as Hinduism and Islam fasting is done. The Islam Ramadan period is a fasting period. So are different Hindu religious festival periods such as Maha Shivaratri.
What is Abstinence?
Abstinence is abstaining from eating certain kinds of food for a determined period of time. It is not abstaining totally from food or drink for a specific period of time. The Catholics are asked to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year and on a few additional days as well. The additional days on which the Catholics are asked to abstain from meat include The Beheading of St. John the Baptist on August 29, the Eve of Christmas on December 24, the Eve of Theophany on January 5 and the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14. However, it should be noted that by now not every Catholic follow the rule of abstaining from meat all year round.
Apart from food, a person can abstain from certain other things as well. For example, sex. People have beliefs such as abstinence from premarital sex. In that case, the person does not engage in sexual intercourse until the marriage takes place. Once the marriage takes place there is no need to follow that promise of not having premarital sex. Here, the time period of abstinence ends with the marriage.
Even in other religions, people can follow abstinence. Especially, abstinence of premarital sex is not just a promise kept by Catholics. Followers of other religions also believe in abstinence.
What is the difference between Fasting and Abstinence?
• In the religious sphere, fasting is going without food and drink for a certain period of time while abstinence is going without certain kinds of food and drink for a period of time. This is the main difference between fasting and abstinence.
• Fasting can be done with regard to food and drink only while abstinence can be followed for things other than food and drink. For example, sex.
• When fasting, one keeps on eating at least one meal per day during the period the fasting is done. However, when abstinence comes one cannot eat that food during that period of time at all.