What is Fasting and Prayer
Fasting proposed by Our Lady of Medjugorje is only one of the forms of fasting encouraged by the Church since its origins. But why do we fast? What is Fasting and Prayer?
What are the physical and spiritual benefits of this practice?
Fasting is a practice professed by Christians as a form of penance and regulated by precise norms. Indeed, we can affirm that fasting and abstinence are part of the life of the faithful, as well as prayer, almsgiving and works of charity.
These are all ways in which the Christian approaches God, proving himself worthy of the Kingdom of him. They are tools aimed at asking forgiveness for one’s sins and pleading for the help of the Father in times of difficulty.
In the Old Testament it was believed that practicing fasting could even save in case of catastrophe!
Christians practice fasting during some days of the year, in particular in conjunction with solemn holidays, and this gives fasting and abstinence a social and community value.
Because not only the individual believer is called to them, but the entire Christian community.
To delve into the reasons and advantages of this practice we must first consider the Christian reasons for these practices, how they have been regulated over time, and the difference between ecclesiastical fasting and abstinence.
Jesus did not impose fasting on his disciples, even though, as belonging to the Jewish people, they all practiced it.
And again, what are the rules for undergoing fasting correctly?
Jesus respected the practice and value of fasting in use among his people, in its most interior and religious sense.
For him fasting, prayer and almsgiving are an act of offering and love to the Father “who is in secret” and “who sees in secret” (Mt 6:18).
Jesus himself faces forty days of fasting in the desert to prepare himself to fulfill his task and to face his own destiny for the salvation of men and the triumph of God’s love.
For a long time the Church imposed fasting twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays. Fasting on Friday was a way to celebrate and honor the passion and death of Jesus. Fasting on Wednesday.
On the other hand, manifested the love of the faithful for Jesus by remembering the Wednesday of Holy Week, when Judas went to the Pharisees and stared with them. the price of his betrayal.
In 1966, at the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI promulgated the Apostolic Constitution, which had the purpose of defining and reforming the ecclesial discipline in the matter of penance.
In particular, for the purposes of our speech, we are interested in dwelling on the Pontiff’s statement that reads:
Divine holiness and Majesty
It is immediately evident how the mortification of the flesh through fasting and abstinence are considered a fundamental component of penance, aimed at elevating man above his physical limits, to open his mind and soul to welcome Christ.
And the wound inflicted on the dignity of our nature by intemperance, is cured by the medicine of a healthy penance. “
The Constitution also establishes the rules regarding the periods of penance: every Friday of the year and Ash Wednesday.
The Italian Episcopal Conference released in 1994 The Christian Sense of Fasting and Abstinence, a pastoral note of a normative nature in which individual faithful were granted the possibility of replacing abstinence on Fridays outside Lent with another type of penance, or with acts of prayer or charity.
The same note also reiterated the need to observe fasting and abstinence on Holy Saturday until the Easter Vigil, while leaving the freedom to abstain from fasting and abstinence for a valid reason, in particular related to health.
Here is a brief summary of the regulatory provisions regarding fasting and abstinence established by the Italian Episcopal Conference:
The law of fasting “obliges one to have a single meal during the day, but does not prohibit taking some food in the morning and in the evening, following the approved local customs in quantity and quality”.
The abstinence law prohibits the use of meat, as well as food and drinks which, in a prudent judgment, are to be considered as particularly sought.
Fasting and abstinence must be observed on Ash Wednesday on the Friday of the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ; they are recommended on Holy Saturday until the Easter vigil.
Abstinence must be observed on all and individual Fridays of Lent, unless they coincide with a day counted among the solemnities (such as 19 and 25 March).
On all other Fridays of the year, unless they coincide with a day counted among the solemnities, abstinence must be observed in the sense said or some other work of penance, prayer, charity must be performed.
All adults up to the beginning of the 60th year are bound by the law of fasting; to the law of abstinence those who have reached the age of 14.
Observing the obligation of the law of fasting and abstinence can excuse a just reason, such as Health. In addition, the parish priest can grant dispensation from the obligation to observe the day of penance, or switch to other pious works.
Today, observance of strict fasting is therefore limited to Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, while abstinence is on the Fridays of Lent and possibly all Fridays of the year.
But why fast?
The reasons why it is healthy and right to take a fast are varied and diverse.
Meanwhile, there is a physical motivation. Fasting from time to time is good, this has been known since ancient times. Fasting allows our body to regain its natural rhythms, often slowed down and upset by wrong eating habits.
Free from the burden of digestion, the body purifies itself, regains its balance, and in this way protects itself from discomfort and disease, also giving the immune defenses time to ‘reorganize’ to defend it.
Statues of Our Lady of Medjugorje
There is also a psychological reason. The excesses to which we are constantly subjected in our daily life make us lose sight of what really matters.
The modern Western world is the world completely and immediately, dominated by surplus, by the extreme ease with which we can obtain everything, without the least effort, and this falsely increases our constant need, making us more and more greedy and lazy.
We do not see what we already have, always striving to have more, to have more. This state of constant and false need and dissatisfaction makes us forget how important it is to take care of our soul, of our spirit.
Thus we become weak, unable to react to the difficulties of life, even the most derisory ones, let alone the real problems!
Our ability to bear pain, to feel empathy, even love for others, fails, and we become victims of easy shortcuts, such as drugs, alcohol, drugs, or believe we are sick.
We are no longer able to appreciate things, because we just need to reach out to have them, and this, in a sense, makes them less valuable.
Fasting for two days is a way to widen this distance between us and what we take for granted is due to us.
Doing without what gives us immediate satisfaction, something we believe we cannot do without, teaches us to relativize.
To recognize the authentic importance of things, and above all, to understand that we can safely give up on them without for this to suffer excessive damage.
Doing without things brings us closer to people, pushes us to listen, to empathy.
It helps us to realize not only who is better than us, but above all who is worse off, and how lucky we are in comparison.
We can learn to live with things by appreciating them more, and above all by judging them for what they are, not according to our often distorted expectations.
Finally, but for Christians it is probably the fundamental point, in fasting there is a spiritual motivation.
Fasting helps the mind to approach prayer with greater commitment and attention. Just as our body is less ‘distracted’ by digestion, so too our soul can immerse itself more completely in the contemplation of God and his word.
The spirit opens up to him, and the Eucharistic Bread takes on a new and special meaning, nourished by our hunger, which is no longer just hunger for food, but for spirituality.
The prayers on the day of fasting will therefore be more effective and will reach God more easily.
Fasting days in Medjugorje: Wednesday and Friday
Devotees to Our Lady of Medjugorje claim that the Queen of Peace imposes fasting on them as a fundamental practice and instrument of devotion.
If the sick are allowed to give their suffering to Our Lady, people who are well should stick to fasting on bread and water twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays.
one and prayer for a whole day, that is, twice a week, with no concessions to tea or coffee, a precise sacrifice expressly requested of the Virgin.
Other renunciations can and should be made every day, but on Wednesdays and Fridays Our Lady in Medjugorje demands something unequivocal from her believers.
They should not deprive themselves of food, but subsist on bread and water only.
Fasting in Medjugorje must begin in the morning and last 24 hours until the next day. This particular Marian fast aims to avoid wars through the affirmation of the Madonna herself.
In fact, fasting purifies the body and mind from evil and helps people rediscover and purify their hearts.
Prayer and fasting, then, for peace
The visionaries of Medjugorje always remember the importance and value of the believers’ sacrifices, of suffering itself, of sickness, which are gifts, because only through pain can man come closer to God.
Therefore, the devotion to Our Lady of Medjugorje consists not only in the practice of the Rosary, adoration before the statues that represent her, which are also important and powerful weapons given to us by the Virgin.
Praying the Rosary, always carrying with us a bracelet or keychain of Our Lady of Medjugorje is just the beginning.
If we want our prayers to be truly appreciated, we must embrace the practice of fasting in Medjugorje with devotion and joy. Thus, through fasting, we will have guaranteed healing and liberation.