Ash Wednesday. The start of Lent. The Catholic Church demands that its followers fast and abstain. Let me quote:
Fasting and Abstinence: The law of abstinence (i.e. not eating meat) binds all Catholics who are 14 years old and older. The law of fasting (i.e. reducing what we eat) binds Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 years old.
The days of fasting and abstinence are: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
The day of abstinence only is: All Fridays of the year (with some exceptions).
Disobeying these laws can result in a person committing a sin. Either mortal or venial.
I will not go into details here; suffice it to say that most people will die with a venial (minor) sin on their conscience and following a stay in Purgatory they will enter Heaven eventually. Those with a mortal sin are destined to go down without a parachute.
Now here is my take on this. It might not be in total agreement with my Church and no doubt I could stand corrected.
Fasting goes back many years. Jesus fasted in the desert and no doubt people in the Old Testament fasted too.
I believe that fasting, or abstinence, should be a sacrifice made to God. A way of saying "thank you" for what God and Jesus did for us, and still do. We should do it as an act of love, and act of reverence and respect. It should not be done out of fear that we will otherwise have sinned. It should not be done as a means to avoid punishment. Or as a way to gain favours from God.
God cannot be bought with a bar of chocolate.
By abstaining from eating chocolates, or anything else during Lent, we will not gain any points and gold star in God's Record Book.
God does not need anything from us. He will not be found wanting if we stop fasting, abstaining, lighting candles or placing flowers in church. There is nothing we can do to gain favours from God or be in His good books.
He loves us and His invitation to love Him back and obey Him is open to everyone.
It is we who reject that invitation by standing in defiance of God, turning our backs on Him and denying His very existence.
Our entry into Heaven does not rely on not eating chcolates during Lent or meat on Fridays.
Perhaps the Catholic Church needs to clarify this point and review their policy of seeking submission by implying that disobedience of their laws results in sin.
"God does not judge Christians because they sinned, but because they do not repent.” St. Niphon of Constantia