There is an anecdote that Mejugorje seer Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti narrated to her audience. According to Marija, when she and the other seers were much younger and the “Gospa” (Blessed Mother) asked them to fast on bread and water for Wednesdays and Fridays, she and another seer took hot tea on one of those fasting days because the weather was chilly.
Immediately, the older seer Vicka chastised them saying, “Our Lady didn’t say fast on bread and tea. She said ‘bread and water’.”
Marija replied, “Well, thank God, Our Lady is not as strict as you are!”
I cackled like a hyena when I heard that and my head nodded at whiplash-inducing speed. I was reminded of the day I first decided to fast. I’d taken a tasteless piece of sandwich bread for breakfast, another one for lunch and by the time 3:00 rolled around, I’d almost passed out from hunger pains. (Oh, did I mention I was nursing my baby then?) Needless, to say, I was probably harder on myself than Our Lady would have been, than Vicka herself would have approved of.
Thankfully, I realized that since fasting isn’t required for nursing mothers by the Church, I was exempt from denying my baby vital nutrients. I just had to fast on something else when I’m nursing… such as sweets on Wednesdays and the internet on Fridays (sometimes through the weekend).
Post baby weaning, I’ve also learned to start out slow and build my way up to Our Lady’s requests. First, I gave up lunch and replaced that with richer-tasting dinner rolls. (My parent’s own a bakery so I’m a self-confessed spoiled bread
connoisseur snob) Then, when I knew I could
handle a two-meal substitution, I began my fast the night before (a Thursday),
right after dinner and ate my next full meal twenty four hours later, on the
following dinner, a meatless Friday. Next,
I learned to make the bread myself with the help of my bread machine
(lifesaver!) and Betty Crocker’s Bread Machine CookBook (a faster’s best
Finally, I ventured out into other forms of breadish foods… like sweet corn bread (still bread, right?), focaccia (any Italian tongue will still call it bread), Popeye biscuits (maybe stretching it but since its ingredients are the same as bread, a bread by any other name is just as sweet), zucchini bread (okay, definitely classified as cake because of the chocolate ingredient).
|Click Here for delish and easy 4 ingredient Biscuit Recipe|
Trust me: with one baby step at a time, the goal of bread and water fasting is not impossible. One Friday morning, you’ll find yourself eating even the stalest, chewiest sourdough-turned-crouton because you forgot to bake bread… out of love for Our Lord and Our Lady. Mind you, I can’t guarantee we’ll ever reach the level of Blessed Alexandrina de Costa who subsisted only on the Eucharist for 13 years but Our Lady didn’t ask that of us, anyway.
Why fast? From my own experience, I can tell you it’s incomparable benefits. Discipline and self-denial become easier; therefore, sacrifice and dying to self becomes easier. Our souls grow more attuned to the heavenly goals of the saints. Our prayers mature into more charitable and others-centered requests and thus, are likely to be granted. As Mark 9:29 promised, the demons in our lives can be vanquished by prayer and fasting. (I can attest to the change in my husband which I will reveal in the next post.) Plus, you don’t feel too guilty schlepping those dark-chocolate-toffee treats every once in a while.
So why not make this the year you begin to fast?