To pray well, fast!
October 2, 2023
The Holy Guardian Angels
Dear Family of Mary!
Today, Fr. Shamon tells us that in order to pray well, we must fast!
Chapter 9, Teaching Nine
To pray well, fast.
Prayer is the breath of the soul.
Fasting is the prayer of the body.
Prayer and fasting are as necessary to our spiritual life as breathing and eating are to our physical life.
As breathing and eating are interrelated, so are prayer and fasting. When you fast, you can pray better. Try it and see if that isn’t true. But we have virtually forgotten about fasting. Our Lady at Medjugorje asks: “Fast strictly on Wednesday and Friday…” (8/14/84)
Fasting opens you up to others and to God. Fasting helps you experience how it is to be poor. The poor hunger by necessity. They know what it is to need; and so they are open to help. The poor person is open to trusting God, for he has no one else in whom to trust. That is why Mary said God gives good things to the hungry. (Lk 1:53) Her Son echoed her sentiments when He said: “How blest are the poor in spirit: the reign of God is theirs” (Mt. 5:3)
Self-sufficiency can shut out God. If we have no sense of need, then we see no need for turning to God. Our Lord himself said that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. One reason is, because a rich person tends to be self-sufficient, to trust in his own resources, and not in God. Only when the well is dry will you know the value of water.
Fasting does not mean not eating. When you fast, you eat, but you do not eat what your palate craves. How often we eat just because something tastes so good! Fasting denies those tastes, so jaded by our abundance.
To drink sugarless coffee and one slice of toast on Friday morning and the same with a couple of slices of toast for lunch is not too appetizing-but it is sufficient. You eat, you see, but not what you would like to eat. You are in reality denying yourself. And that is good!
Such fasting is so good because it also helps toward self-mastery. We all experience the rebellion of the flesh against the spirit. St. Paul cried out that because of the sting of the flesh, he did not do what he wanted to do but what he hated. “I do, not the good I will to do, but the evil I do not intend” (Rom. 7:19)
If you starve a lion, you so weaken it that you can master the beast. Fasting starves the passions and so weakens their power that it becomes possible for your reason and will to gain the upper hand in your life.
Lastly, you can almost say that fasting is a physical necessity. More graves are dug by knives and forks than by auto accidents. So, thousands of people diet or go to health clubs. Fasting is not so strenuous and difficult as dieting and exercising, yet it is more rewarding; for it not only slims the body, but it also shapes the soul.
Mark’s gospel tells of five conflicts between Jesus and the Scribes and Pharisees. The third clash was over fasting (Mk. 2:18-22). Our Lord did not attack fasting- but only the way the Scribes and Pharisees fasted.
You must fast, but never to lord it over others who do not fast (Lk. 18:9-14)
You must fast, but not to be seen by men, to show off (Mt. 6:16-18)
You fast to atone for past sins. When you do, fasting is called “penance”.
You fast to make up for the sins of others. When you do, fasting is called “reparation.”
You fast to gain future strength in the struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil. When you do, fasting is called “mortification.” Mortification opens up the heart to God and to others and disposes you to follow the dictates of your reason illumined by faith.
So important is fasting that Jesus began His public life with it. It empowered Him to conquer the temptations of the devil. He is the way.
There is another kind of fasting we can do. It is this: pick out two days each week for no television. Replace the time with family games, family prayer, family Bible reading, visits to friends and shut-ins, letter writing.
One day Our Lady, in asking the seers to prepare for Christmas, said: “I tell you: turn off your television sets, your radios and follow the program set by God of mediation, prayer and reading the Gospel; foster the development of faith” (1984). She promised such a preparation would bring them the merriest merry Christmas!
Rev. Albert J.M. Shamon, “Our Lady teaches about Prayer at Medjugorje.” Chapter 9, Teaching Nine! (P. 34-37)
It is good to remember that our fasting empowers our prayer! Mother leads us!
In Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
(c) Mary TV 2023