(c)Mary TV 2012
The Bread of Life
October 30, 2012
Dear Family of Mary!
"Dear children! Today I call you to pray for my intentions. Renew fasting and prayer because Satan is cunning and attracts many hearts to sin and perdition. I call you, little children, to holiness and to live in grace. Adore my Son so that He may fill you with His peace and love for which you yearn. Thank you for having responded to my call." (October 25, 2012)
Many of you have written in response to yesterday's reflection, expressing how difficult fasting has been for them, and how much they want to respond to Our Lady's call to fast. I will share some more of Fr. Slavko's teaching on fasting from the book, Be Similar to My Heart:
How to Fast
The same question about fasting is always asked - How does one fast?
During these retreats, one type of fasting presents to us Our Lady as teacher. It is one of learning from her...about what fasting really is and what it does for the body, soul and spirit. Our Lady tells us in many of Her messages that we should "Pray with the heart." This is what we will learn to do with fasting, to "fast with the heart," as well as with our bodies. Fasting can become for us a certain attitude, a 'special frame of mind' that we will use in all aspects of our life.
Each day consists of breakfast, lunch and dinner, as a normal day. However, how we eat the bread and drink the water or tea is most important.
Instead of 'eating the bread and drinking the water', we will learn to experience how to 'drink the bread and eat the water.' This is done in total silence, taking each slice of bread in our hands, looking at the color, the weight and feeling the texture of it. It should be eaten very slowly, chewed at least 20 times before swallowing. The bread should be eaten by itself and the water drunk by itself.
Only after we have eaten our fill of bread, we then should drink the water or tea. Again, looking at the water or tea like we do the bread, ---looking at its color, consistency and weight, swallowing the water slowly, considering it as if it were our last drink. A whole hour should be taken to eat and drink.
This means that while eating the bread and drinking the liquid, we should try to contemplate on how each morsel of bread, each swallow, gives us nourishment and life, as it is with the Eucharist. We should try to make a clear and distinct connection between this bread of fasting, and the most precious gift of JESUS IN THE EUCHARIST, who continues to wait and want to nourish us with Himself. The Eucharist is the bread of life for our souls.
It does not matter how much bread we eat. We may eat until our bodies are satisfied. This is not the point. The point is to teach our bodies that fasting is not to deny our bodies nourishment, nor even to feel hunger, but to re-educate our hearts, our minds and our souls to experience the 'inner freedom' from pride, from selfishness - from all the temptations that hinder us from feeling the 'hunger' for God and His love.
When we have this 'inner freedom', we are then able to open ourselves and our hearts to the joy, peace and love that Our Lady continually speaks about in Her messages and wishes for us to experience each day.
When we return home and decide to fast by ourselves, we should try this technique on our own. We should try to take the time to eat slowly and drink slowly. During that one or two days of fasting, we should decide to set aside some extra time for prayer --- it can be an extra rosary, reading the Bible, attending Mass or 30 minutes or an hour of adoration. On those days of fasting, prayer should be a part of our fasting experience.
It is most important that we begin to fast when we return home from Medjugorje. We all know that it is much more difficult to fast on our own than with a group of others; however, it is at our efforts that Our Lady looks, not at our successes. (Father Slavko Barbaric, O.F.M. Be Similar to My Heart. p. 28-30)
I like the last line the best. "It is at our efforts that Our Lady looks, not at our successes." The struggle to fast is much more valuable than we know! I also like Fr. Slavko's advice about eating slowly and deliberately, contemplating the whole process. It seems like fasting on bread and water can become a way of praying, a way of giving thanks to God for bread, for water, for life.
Our Lady has asked us to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. May our experience of fasting grow into the peace, love and joy of life!
In Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
©Mary TV 2012
PS. For all of you who live on the East Coast of the USA and are experiencing this huge storm, we are praying for you and for all those who live in the path of the storm. May the protective and powerful hands of the Lord cover you all!
Contemplate the Eucharist!