Live the fast! February 19, 2021 Friday after Ash Wednesday Dear Family of Mary! Lent is a time of fasting. One of Our Lady’s Five Stones is the call to fast at least twice a week on bread and water. Our Lady has been firm on this point, and she has made it clear that all should fast somehow on Wednesday and Friday. Here is one of her messages about fasting: September 26, 1985 “Dear children! I thank you for all the prayers. Thank you for all the sacrifices. I wish to tell you, dear children, to renew the messages which I am giving you. Especially live the fast, because by fasting you will achieve and cause me the joy of the whole plan, which God is planning here in Medjugorje, being fulfilled. Thank you for having responded to my call.” Our Lady depends in part on our fasting. This may be difficult to understand. But it may be that Our Lady needs disciples who are accustomed to denying themselves so that when the going gets tough during the battle for her triumph, we will be ready. We will be able to think beyond our own needs to the greater good. Today’s Gospel speaks of fasting as well: The disciples of John approached Jesus and said, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” (Matthew 9:14-15) Jesus was talking about His Crucifixion and Death, and that things would get serious for His disciples at that time. They would need to be able to deny themselves in order to have the strength to witness the Kingdom! We all need to double down in our commitment to Jesus and Mary! And that is one of the great benefits of Lent. We learn to deny ourselves again and get tough!! Let’s ask St. Joseph to help us fast. He was a truly “tough” guy! He denied himself for the sake of Jesus and Mary throughout his time with them. Let us pray: Prayer to St. Joseph (adapted from St. Bernardine of Siena) Oh my beloved St. Joseph, adopt me as thy child. Take charge of my salvation; watch over me day and night; preserve me from the occasions of sin; obtain for me purity of body. Through thy intercession with Jesus, grant me a spirit of sacrifice, humility, self-denial, burning love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and a sweet and tender love for Mary, my mother. O Blessed St. Joseph, pray for me, that I may serve the Blessed Virgin Mary in her battle against the devil in these last days, always living her messages and answering her call from Medjugorje, so that the Immaculate Heart of Mary will Triumph in this world. Finally, St. Joseph, be with me living, be with me dying, and obtain for me a favorable judgement from Jesus, my merciful Savior. Amen. Dear St. Joseph, help me respond to this message from Our Lady: “Dear children! Today in a special way I invite you all to prayer and renunciation. For now as never before Satan wants to show the world his shameful face by which he wants to seduce as many people as possible onto the way of death and sin. Therefore, dear children, help my Immaculate Heart to triumph in the sinful world. I beseech all of you to offer prayers and sacrifices for my intentions so I can present them to God for what is most necessary. Forget your desires, dear children, and pray for what God desires, and not for what you desire. Thank you for having responded to my call.” (September 25, 1991) In Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Cathy Nolan ©Mary TV 2021 PS. Stefanie (thank you, Stefanie) has transcribed the homily that Fr. Leon gave on the Thursday after Ash Wednesday at English Mass in Medjugorje. Talk about being tough! Fr. Leon makes it clear that we cannot be so comfortable with our lifestyles that we will compromise with the forces of evil just to stay comfortable. Here is the homily: English Homily in Medjugorje Thursday, February 18, 2021 Fr. Leon Pereira HOMILY Many years ago when I was a novice in Edinboro, in the local newspaper, “The Scotsman” – the national newspaper – they had an article, and the headline was, “I am a Catholic in the football sense.” And it was actually a real quote from a young man; and what he meant was, his Catholicism was, he supported Celtic, the football club: “I am a Catholic in a football sense.” And the article was about, is Catholicism more or less meaningless in Scotland in the year 1998? Now, there is a lot of this “Catholic in a football sense.” When we look at history, Catholicism doesn’t necessarily take deep roots in a culture. The whole culture is affected, and people go along with it. For example, here, here in Medjugorje in the early days, Gospa – Our Lady – complained. She said, “Many of you are fasting, but only because everyone else is fasting.” And she said, “Fast from the heart.” So, there’s this idea like, “if everyone else is doing it, then I’ll do it too.” So, for example, in our time, very Catholic countries like, The Philippines, and Kerala, Southwest India, when they migrate and go to the west, if they don’t keep up their cultural trappings – their festivals, their food, etc. – you very rapidly see, the faith, also, be eroded among them; very quickly. So, one of the things in history that we see, is that the English church was almost completely destroyed by The Reformation – so-called “Reformation” – and very few people, “The Refuseniks” refused to conform. They were called the “Recusants.” And then, the Irish started coming across, for all sorts of reasons – to work in the fields, the farms, the factories – and they started to lapse very quickly from Catholicism. And the English Catholics – the very few who were there – were so appalled, they thought, “We need allies, we need more allies!” So, they worked among them; and then the faith was kept. Why does this happen? When Cardinal Basil Hume of Westminster died, they said on the radio, “Here, at last, was a man who made Catholicism respectable.” Respectable enough for the English. This is such a condescending thing to say. But what they meant was, “We don’t like Catholics. They are beneath us. They’re beneath our dignity.” And, of course, that puts a pressure on Catholics. “You can be just like us. You could be acceptable, respectable, if you sacrifice your faith.” We see this in America with politicians. Just a few days ago, they had a vote in the Senate to say that “every baby born alive must be protected and given treatment, whether she is born through natural birth, or whether she is born through an induced abortion.” And it failed by 8 votes. And 13 Catholics voted in favor of letting these babies die: 13 Catholics. They could have swung the vote. But their Catholicism meant nothing to them. Nothing. They wanted to be part of the world. They wanted to be part of the Democratic Party, I suppose; of that Leftist Culture, of killing babies, even when they’re born alive. Their Catholicism did not mean that much. “I’m Catholic, but only in a football sense.” “I’m Catholic when it suits me.” “I’m Catholic when it’s St. Patrick’s Day.” What does that mean? Well, the collapse of the Church in many parts of the world – it happens traditionally in Catholic cultures. In the 70’s, or 60’s, even, it happened in Quebec. And when it happened in Quebec, I think, many people realized, “This is going to happened in Ireland.” And it did. And it’s happening now in Malta, Poland, all these other countries; and Singapore, where I’m from. I’m sure the Church will collapse there, if things carry on. Because, it hasn’t taken root, really, in the hearts of people. It is “something we do because everyone else does it.” But when everyone else stops doing it, then we stop doing it too. That’s not a Faith. That’s, “Catholic in a football sense.” And then, what do we do? We vote for abortion and call ourselves, “catholic.” This is what’s coming, for all of us, everywhere. Jesus asks us to choose. He tells us very plainly why the Son of Man has come: “To suffer, be rejected, and be killed; and on the third day, rise.” This is why He comes. There is no “Christ” without “the Cross.” There is NO “Gospel of Oprah Winfrey.” Of Deepak Chopra. And all that nonsense. You know, “Christ-centered consciousness;” or some New Age babble… You see, when the Church collapses, in all “the manure,” you find “the Diamond:” the people who have kept the faith. I chose that image deliberately – deliberately! For all those who want to say they are “Catholic in a football sense,” I’m telling you: “You are manure.” Choose. Choose Jesus. Be a Diamond. Don’t be manure. And then Jesus says, “If you would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross.” I don’t think the world is ever going to be, “the way it was.” Everyone needs to live. You need a job. You need some money coming in. You need food, and money to pay the bills, and all that. That’s true. But things are never going to be “the way they were.” And if you desire that, then you are ripe – ripe! – for the antichrist when he comes. Because he will promise you everything you want: Your life as it was before. “All you have to do is sign on the dotted line. (Don’t read the fine print.)” And many people will do this, because they want their lives “the way they were.” It’s never going to be that way. Choose, every day. Choose Christ. Christ, for His sake. Christ, with the Cross. Not, “Christ in the football sense.” Not, Christ in a cultural sense. Not, Christ in the sense of “pierogi.” Or any other thing. NO! The Real Jesus: Jesus who hangs on that cross. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.