Enforcing the rules
Not eating when I want and what I want is difficult for me. It's like my body is a spoiled, snobby, pampered child. If I so much as feel a twinge in my tummy, I run to the pantry or the fridge before I fall to the ground for lack of sustenance. My body screams, cries and throws tantrums unless I give in to its every need, and quickly.
So when Ash Wednesday comes along, and the Church has me fast (eat a small amount throughout the day without snacks) and abstain from meat, it becomes abundantly clear that I have spoiled, rotten, body. It demands so much of my attention that my spirit is neglected. My spirit needs food as much, or more, and is fed by prayer and the reception of sacraments.
The Catholic Church is often seen as a church of rules and regulations that can hinder a person from truly growing in the Spirit of Christ. Supposedly the Holy Spirit will guide a person to a life of holiness. I do agree that the Spirit will guide us, but I also agree with Jesus when He says: "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41). Spirit in this sense is not God's Holy Spirit, but my own.
There are five precepts that the Church has us uphold and one of them is "to observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2043). It may seem like a silly rule to some, but to me it is vital. I don't think my spirit could ever overcome my demanding body without a little discipline. These days of fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, along with abstaining from meat on Fridays during the season of Lent, are just small things I can do to strengthen my spirit and my will.
Instead of giving in to the screaming, spoiled child (my body), I am given the opportunity to tell it "NO" and send it to the time out chair. Lent is a time to enforce the rules on my body so that my spirit will have a chance to grow up.