XXVI. Mother Teresa did not allow her nuns to fast. In many religious communities, fasting is a normal part of the spiritual development of the individual, and monks and nuns, and even lay persons have a long tradition of voluntary fasting in reparation for sins. Mother Teresa, however, categorically forbade any voluntary fasting. So here you have one of the holiest women of the last century forbidding a practice that centuries of spiritual directors have regarded as essential for the pursuit of spiritual growth. Mother Teresa, however, was well aware of the pedigree of this discipline, and had practiced it herself during her pre-MC days. She forbade it not because it is bad, but because it was not what they were called to. The charism of the Missionaries of Charity is service to the poorest of the poor and to accomplish this they needed to be healthy and strong. The diet of the MC’s is plain to the utmost, but Mother Theresa insisted that whenever possible it be enough to sustain the sisters for a full day out in the street, and no nun was allowed to turn away her portion in the name of spiritual growth. They were meant to find spiritual growth in the exercise of their vocation, and nowhere else.