Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Fasting


I realized about a week ago that I have never really fasted.  I mean, I have "fasted" for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday before but never for longer than a day and never with a purpose.

At the time I was reading a quote by Padre Pio, "Prayer and fasting are the spiritual weapons to defeat evil.  You and I must pray and fast if there is to be hope for the future." 

I realized I am totally on board with the praying thing, but honestly, outside of Lent, I have never given much thought to the fasting thing.  I decided, especially with the things that are happening in my life and in those around me, I wanted to try a fast. 


As I read Padre Pio's quote I remembered the story from scriptures about the disciples failing to cast out a demon from a person and then Christ came and cast the demon out.  When they asked why they had failed, he answered, "Because of your little faith: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. But this kind goeth not out save by prayer and fasting." I thought, if Christ said there are things that can only be accomplished by fasting, I better be fasting!


However, I wasn't quite sure how to go about it.  For Lent I usually follow the Church's recommendation to eat one regular meal and two smaller meals that don't equal a regular meal while at the same time not eating meat.  I thought about doing a "black fast" where  I don't eat at all during daylight. I even thought about only eating bread and drinking water, but with all these ideas, I just wasn't sure where to go with this.  And how long should I fast for?  One day?  One week?
So last Friday I went to my pastor and asked him.  He suggested starting with skipping a meal or maybe giving up sweets.  After praying about it I decided to follow his suggestion.  I thought a novena would be a good time frame.  So I started the Efficacious Novena to the Sacred Heart and fasting last Monday.  I am fasting "within my scope" as I don't want to set my sights too high and presume on God's mercy and grace to get me through a superhuman fast (like the saints who solely subsisted on the Eucharist!).  Also my pastor told me (knows me too well!) that if fasting is affecting my attitude or how I treat others, I should stop.  
So right now I am skipping lunch, avoiding any alcohol, and all sugar. 
Three days in it has been a very good experience.  I expect it will get more difficult each day, but I don't know.   I find there are times when I am not thinking clearly and then I remember that I am coming off sugar (which I majorly over-indulged this past Holiday season!) and that I am used to eating every 2-3 hours.  If I find I am grumpy, I eat a very small snack or drink tea because I want to heed Father's advice (and not make those around me miserable!).  
So far I have not had to eat in a way that has broken the fasting rules I set for myself.  Since I think this should be a private endeavor, I have just told my friends and family that I am dieting and they take it at face value since we just finished the holidays.  
Sometimes I find myself with desolate thoughts or temptations and then I remember I am fasting.  Besides the physiological effects, there must be a bit of a spiritual ripple.  I am probably making the devil pretty angry.  He is going to work against me during this time, either to deter me from finishing this fast and prayer or to lead me to pride that this is being done by me.  It is so clear to me that even this small fast would be impossible without the grace and direction of God.   Six days left!

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