We call it Lent in English. Good to remember, though, what it is called in our old service books (and still in the service books of Germany today): Fastenzeit, that is, Fasting Time.
And fasting is not first and foremost about avoiding mechanically a certain kind of food while stuffing yourself with other tasty treats. Recall the words of Martin Chemnitz about such fasting:
"A well-filled or richly treated belly, whether it is done with fish or vegetables, certainly is not fasting." (Examen IV:275)
He reminds us that fasting can be like this:
"When we do not abstain altogether from lunch or from dinner, but remove something when we lunch or dine, either in the quantity or the quality of the food, or do not take as much or also as rich as could be done even while maintaining temperance." (IV:259)
There is also, of course, abstaining totally from lunch or dinner:
"It is that that is most properly called fasting." (IV:260)
Anyway you slice it, real fast simply involves hunger. It involves not stuffing one's self and so letting the hunger of the body discipline us. For we are sad creatures who are used to filling our bellies with the first grumble. Or even worse, I think of mother's motto (truly the very opposite of fasting!): "You don't eat because you're hungry; you eat to keep from getting hungry!" She meant it humorously (I think!), but of course that's the pathway to gluttony and indulgence. Rather, the fast, the hunger, helps us train the body and keep it under subjection. For there is a hunger greater than the hunger of the body, and that is the thirst and hunger of the soul for God. And while food and drink can mask that inner hunger and help you to ignore it, there is nothing like the fast itself, going hungry, to unmask the inner hunger and remind us that in the end there is nothing that satisfies the ache of the human being, but God alone. "One thing have I desire of the Lord, and that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple." Psalm 27
One way that the Church has guided her children in fasting is to suggest that the days of Lent, during Fastenzeit, food be significantly pared down. Nothing for breakfast, a regular but plain meal for lunch, and a very light meal at supper. Each Lent I am always amazed at how little it takes to keep the body going, how it is possible by God's grace to go hungry and NOT obey the stomach's dictates and orders, and how freeing it is to have more time for prayer and Scripture and acts of love. This is possible when food is intentionally and joyfully set "on the back burner" of one's life.
Fastenzeit kommt! Now is the time to begin planning on how you will observe it yourself and to discuss the implications of observing it for your home life.