September 20, 1984
“Dear children! Today I call on you to begin fasting with the heart. There are many people who are fasting, but only because everyone else is fasting. It has become a custom which no one wants to stop. I ask the parish to fast out of gratitude because God has allowed me to stay this long in this parish. Dear children, fast and pray with the heart. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
Today is a fast day! We fast on Wednesday and Friday because Our Lady has asked us to do so. It is part of her plan for peace. Fr. Slavko understood fasting. He was courageous in fasting and prayer. He wrote about the connection between fasting and prayer. They are necessary to one another:
The unification of the body and soul in prayer are particularly manifested in fasting and prayer. The physical fast makes prayer more complete. A person, who fasts, prays better and a person, who prays, fasts more easily. In this way, prayer does not only remain an expression or words, but includes the entire human being. Physical fasting is an admission to God before men that one cannot do it alone and needs help. A person experiences his helplessness more easily when he fasts and that is why, by means of the physical fast, the soul is more open to God. Without fasting, our words of prayer remain without a true foundation. In the Old Testament the faithful fasted and prayed individually, in groups and in various life situations. Because of this, they always, experienced God’s help. (cf. Ezra 8: 21-23; 2 Chr 20:12). Jesus ascribes a special power to fasting and prayer, especially in the battle against evil spirits (cf. Mk 9:29). The same practice is found in the tradition of the Catholic Church and is most evident in the rules of all orders and religious communities. St. Bernard wrote about the relationship between fasting and prayer saying:
“I will tell you something that you will understand easily and what you have often experienced, if I am not mistaken: fasting gives certainty to prayer and makes it fervent…By means of prayer strength is gained for fasting and through fasting the grace of prayer. Fasting strengthens prayer and prayer strengthens fasting and offers it to the Lord.”
This is apparent because by means of fasting, one becomes more awake and open to God and to what is spiritual. For the same reason, fasting is connected to the Eucharist. While a person practices renunciation and lives for a period of time with bread, he prepares himself for a meeting with the Divine Bread. This exceptional meeting with God, especially in connection with the Eucharist, is evidence of how fasting is positive in itself and how it enables us to realize the fundamental goal of prayer – the meeting of the entire person with God, the Savior. (Fr. Slavko Barbaric. “Fast with the Heart”. P. 110-111)
I must admit that for me fasting is the last thing I want to add to my busy life. But I believe that if I do not fast as Mary asks, I will be limping through life on one leg. Fasting and prayer go together. We will find ourselves closer to God in prayer if we fast. It is not something we can figure out, but something we must live.
Tomorrow is the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary! Our fasting today can give us something to offer Our Lady on her birthday, a little gift of our sacrifice for her intentions!
Mother Mary, please procure for us the grace to fast. Help us to live as you have asked us to live, through prayer and fasting!!
In Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
© Mary TV 2016
PS. I again want to suggest to all of you to pray about whether Our Lady might be calling you to Medjugorje! The pilgrimage that Mike Nolan is leading on October 3 – 14 still has room. The air fares are quite low. If you have been waiting for the right time to go to Medjugorje, this may be it!!