Monday, January 20, 2014

Insightful Fasting...

BEADS OF JOY 01-20-14
“Insightful Fasting…”
©2014 James Dacey, Jr. OFS
Today’s Gospel: Mark 2:18-22 (Question About Fasting) “Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, "Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"  And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. No one sews a piece of un-shrunk cloth on an old garment; if he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wine skins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but new wine is for fresh skins.”
My Friends,
Let us discover fasting in scripture today, maybe in a way we never have before; or maybe even in a way that will thrill our hearts and change our lives. Fasting is indeed a physical experience, but more importantly it is a spiritual exercise. Let us also remember that Jesus went into the desert and fasted for 40 days. In Matthew 4:4 we read, "One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."

One thing we learn about the spiritual purpose of fasting is that fasting helps us become more aware of God's presence. And one thing I have learned not only in scripture but also in spiritual direction with fasting; is that we must keep this great gift that we give to God, between us and God alone. You can see it in Matthew's gospel, "But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will reward you." I really love scripture, I hope you are able to have the same Joy in the scriptures that I do. When you spend as much time in the bible as I do, you can easily understand and believe and see, how God's hand was indeed the hand who assembled and wrote the scripture through His chosen people.

Fasting is a rather unique sacrifice and gift; a gift we can give to God, but also a gift while giving we are able to receive. Fasting is an inner act of sacrifice that deepens our spiritual walk with our Lord. In my own personal experience I find that fasting evolves as time progresses. What I mean by that is, that the more hours or days in a row that I fast; the more energy I have and the closer to God I feel and the clearer I am able to see God. One would think possibly the reverse would happen, we would grow tired and weary without food. On the contrary the energy surge is absolutely incredible. But use your head and consult your physician, if your health requires you to eat, please DO NOT FAST, instead consult a priest on what you might do. There are other way to fast.

Fasting is a very powerful way for us to turn our dependency over to God. Also note that fasting not only heals the soul, but it also has the power to heal the body (cholesterol, blood pressure, sickness, etc.). I challenge all of you to somehow incorporate fasting into your life. Maybe once a week, the same day or rotating days. Or even fast from something you really enjoy for the day, maybe coffee or chocolate. Also allow the purpose of your fast to draw yourself back to Jesus. Never give up on your journey as you fast, you will have both good and bad days. Just stick with it, and offer all you’re suffering up to Jesus as your gift to Him. I hope this was helpful.
Fr. Mullally use to fast Wednesday’s and Friday’s and I use to just fast on Friday’s. Back in the early years of his Spiritual Direction of me, I questioned the additional day. He told me it was this: “(Canon 15): “On Wednesday because on this day the council of the Jews was gathered to betray our Lord; on Friday because on this day He suffered death for our salvation.” Interesting, so I too joined in his approach and reason to fast Wednesday’s and Friday’s.

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