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The Sacred Art of Fasting


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Table of Contents

Introduction 1. In Search of Fasting as a Spiritual Practice 2. Judaism: Purification, Mourning, Atonement 3. Christianity: Mystical Longing, Liberation through Discipline, Work of Justice 4. Islam: Allah-Consciousness, Self-Restraint, Social Solidarity 5. Hinduism: Purity, Respect, Penance 6. Buddhism: Purity of Body, Clarity of Mind, Moderation 7. Latter-day Saints: Offerings for Those in Want, Strengthening in the Faith 8. What Makes Fasting a Sacred Art? 9. Preparing to Practice Notes Acknowledgments

About the Author

Rev. Thomas Ryan, CSP, is a Catholic priest and member of the Paulist Fathers. He coordinates ecumenical and interreligious relations for the Paulist community in the United States and Canada. The author of twelve books, his works include The Sacred Art of Fasting: Preparing to Practice (SkyLight Paths); Interreligious Prayer: A Christian Guide; Four Steps to Spiritual Freedom and the DVD Yoga Prayer. He lives in Washington, DC. Rev. Thomas Ryan, CSP, is available to speak on the following topics: Fasting: A Fresh Look Challenge and Inspiration from Other Religions The Ecumenical Gift Exchange: What Do the Churches Have to Offer One Another for Their Mutual Enrichment? Soul Fire: Accessing Your Creativity Remember to Live: Embracing the Second Half of Life Click here to contact the author.


"A major contribution to a lost art, discipline, and spiritual practice. It reflects both a maturation of religion and a radical return to tradition. Thomas Ryan is teaching us how to refine our appetites!" -Richard Rohr, OFM, founder and director of The Center for Action and Contemplation "A solid and stimulating addition to the reading list of interreligious discussion groups." -America "Insightful and balanced.... Garners the wisdom of different religious traditions ... needed in today's world.... Father Ryan has rendered a notable service in writing this book." -Monastic and Interreligious Dialogue "A superbly written guidebook and practical resource.... Explores with ease and clarity our deeply rooted fascination with fasting and abstinence.... He writes from a Christian perspective yet compares and contrasts teachings and practices in other religious traditions with insight and respect." -John Borelli, Special Assistant to the President for Interreligious Initiatives, Georgetown University "Broader and more complex than it might at first appear.... [A] sensitive treatment of fasting's tradition and meanings in not only Christianity but also Judaism, Islam, and other faiths." -Library Journal "A sober, practical, and deeply reverential discussion of an ancient practice undertaken in search for enlightenment." -Midwest Book Review "Readers may be inspired to develop their own fasting practice.... Warm [and] personal ... accessible and inviting.... Equips readers to practice this sacred art safely and meaningfully." -New Age Retailer "Accessible, thoughtful.... One of the book's strengths is its evenhanded introduction to each of the six religions it covers....These [balanced] narratives allow adherents from each religion to speak from their own belief and experience.... [A] gem.... A much-needed treatise that will attract believers from all faiths." -Publishers Weekly "Does an excellent service.... With diverse perspectives of social responsibility, devotion, ecology, the politics of hunger, and medicine, he explores the depth of human well-being ... dispelling fears, guiding us with examples." -Bhaswati Bhattacharya, MPH, MD, holistic physician-author and assistant professor of family practice in medicine, Weill-Cornell Medical College "Well-researched and developed.... Well-rounded.... Merit[s] serious consideration.... A feast of words that cannot fail to delight all who partake of it.... Reader-friendly ... a work of substance." -Montreal Anglican

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