Thursday, November 4, 2010

Get Good at Fasting

Judith 14:11: "Know ye that the Lord will hear your prayers, if you continue with perseverance in fastings and prayers in the sight of the Lord."

And Jesus says of certain devils:

Matthew 17:20: "But this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting."
Please also read:
Penance and Mortification
Gluttony, And Why it is One of the Seven Deadly Sins

Since, as Catholics, we know that we must fast for forty days (actually thirty-six since we do not fast on the Sundays) in Lent, and since we know that it is an incredibly solemn matter which cannot be lightly put aside without the loss of salvation, it behooves us, then, to get good at fasting, rather than waiting until the appointed time and hope that we can make it.  After all, with practice we improve, and perfect practice makes perfect and perfectly practicing the works of perfection make us perfect at being perfect.  And lest you think I'm only joking around, did God himself not say: "Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect"?

God is much more pleased with us when we use the goods of the world "as though we used them not", and hence if we should devote ourselves to the practice of waiting longer between meals, we begin a good habit that takes us a long way, by the grace of God.

"I'm starting to get hungry.  It's been five hours since my last meal.  I'm used to eating at least something small every five hours, but today I will wait an hour longer - for the sake of Jesus Christ, who ate nothing at all from the time he was apprehended to the time he expired nearly a full day later.  Surely the labour He endured that day was by far greater than the work I must busy myself with."

"I'm starting to get thirsty.  My mouth is pretty dry, but I know that the souls in Purgatory do not so much as get a small refreshment except they receive a kind thought or prayer from another, since for them it is the 'night in which no man can work'. They cannot so much as raise a cup to their own lips, therefore in the hope that it will ease the suffering of one such soul, I will sacrifice now and wait until morning before I sip of any beverage."

"Oh that was a hard day at work.  Man I'm hungry. Maybe I'll wait until after I say the Rosary... [after Rosary] well, I could just put it off a little longer, maybe I'll answer my emails first... [after emails] Oh it's getting late!  I don't need energy to sleep, and breakfast will be good in the morning!  Please God accept this pitifully inadequate sacrifice on behalf of sinners and heretics, that Thou woudst shew them mercy and an increase of prevenient grace, unto conversion."

"Today is Saturday, and if the Christians of old fasted every Saturday in honour of the Blessed Virgin, then how much more should I do so, since it is almost entirely on the helps God has given through her that I am depending, in a world where it is illicit to hear any Mass for want of known Catholic priests..."

"Today is not a fast day, but I want to give something to Christ: but I have so much work to do and I need my sustenance.  Let me eat bread (from a good bakery NEVER a grocery store!!!!), with nothing on it.  I will eat only bread today, as many times as I need to, but nothing else..."

The above are examples of small things we can do to "take up our cross daily", and I am not trying to say that they are things I do or have done with any great success.  Perhaps I am to much of a coward to even try them, but if that is true, at least I know that surely there are people reading this blog who are more courageous than I.

It was even a common Christian practice to fast every Wednesday and Saturday.  I believe every Christian should at least desire to be strong enough to be able to make such sacrifices for the love of God.  When this is desired for the right reasons (such as those mentioned above) and not rather for vanity or pride, and we entreat God to help us fulfill them, then surely He will bestow the grace necessary to perform these and other great works of supererogation.  And surely it is by becoming Saints that we will be able to move the hardest of hearts towards the fear, reverence and love of God.

It is by working out our salvation in fear and trembling that we will be strong enough for martyrdom.  If anyone is unclear what "working out" means, then they have never seen a gymnasium before.  It is a place of practice.  We have to PRACTICE mortification and virtue if we want to get good enough to be able to perform in the world class event of a great persecution where only world class athletes will succeed, who have put in their quality time at the gym (note:  this is not a suggestion that anybody go to the immodest meat market gyms that exist nowadays, as these are certainly at the least occasions of sin, if not the very gateway to hell, but rather start "working out" their soul).

And if I have not begun to do the things above, it is, as I have implied, because I do not yet desire it enough.  And even if I have, I am still nothing and a terrible ingrate and will not lose sight of this fact, lest I become presumptuous and lose my soul.

Revelations of St. Birgitta of Sweden, Book 4, Chapter 32: "The Mother of God speaks : "You have an expression that says, 'That sort of thing could make me leave my homeland.' I tell you so now: Nobody in the world is so great a sinner - provided he says in his heart that my Son is the Creator and Redeemer of the universe and dear to him in his inmost heart - that I am not prepared to come to him immediately, like a loving mother to her son, and hug him and say: 'What would you like, my son?' Even if he had deserved the lowest punishment in hell, nevertheless, if only he has the intention of not caring for worldly honors or greed or carnal lust, such as the Church condemns, and desires nothing but his own sustenance, then he and I will right away get along quite well together."

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