At this time last year (when I was the oldest youth minister in the diocese) my wife suggested that I have the group do a communal fast during Lent.
After all they knew the basics of the program--prayer, fasting, scripture, Holy Eucharist, and confession.
And all had been introduced to them except fasting.
All they really knew was that I would complain when I was doing it because I am the world's worst faster.
This was real fasting. Not that one full meal and two small supplemental meal stuff that is preached.
This was bread and water for 24 hours.
Not only was fasting going to be a cultural contradiction for them but it was also an ecclesial contradiciton.
Just listen to the preaching going on in two days on Ash Wednesday--take note how many will actually espouse fasting on bread and water. When I was a young priest I never fasted.
Anyways, the kids signed up, and the Holy Spirit took over. Before they knew it they were giving retreats and growing in numbers.
It was phenomenal.
I wonder if they will fast again this year.
Sometimes fasting has immediate recognizable spiritual results.
And then at other times--it is more about patient perseverence.
"And he said to them: This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." Mk. 9:28.
Jesus is pretty clear. You got a demon? Then do battle. Pray, fast and then go to confession. And then pray and fast some more--actually do it forever.
It will change your life.