Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Baby Steps To Fasting

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 friend!). 

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

I hope I don’t sound like another lawyer looking for legal loopholes because that’s not my intention.  I just wanted to help out those of you who are struggling with the US Bishop’s call to make the year of faith the year where you “pray the rosary and fast for life, marriage and religious freedom,” which is (don’t act surprised now) in sync with Our Lady of Mejugorje’s requests to “pray the rosary and fast”.

  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? 


Ennoh said...

I have tried fasting a couple of times but found that I couldnt manage on next to no vitamins - got too tired. I could cope with eating very little - but I have to manage our big household and help the kids with assignments and everything else and my brain needs to function well. How did you manage on your fasts?

Ennoh said...

I have tried fasting a couple of times but found that I couldnt manage on next to no vitamins - got too tired. I could cope with eating very little - but I have to manage our big household and help the kids with assignments and everything else and my brain needs to function well. How did you manage on your fasts?

mary333 said...

Thanks for the article on fasting, Anabelle. Maybe baby steps will help me do better in this area. Don't get me wrong, I do fast, but not as often as I should and my liquids are not water. That's my goal though (bread and water only).

Amy @ Consecrated Housewife said...

This reminds me of a comment made to me by my RCIA director. I gave birth to our youngest the weekend after Ash Wednesday the same year I joined the church (on Easter Vigil). So, as I was trying to come up with some type of penance or sacrifice I could make during lent she wisely advised "you have a newborn...that is plenty sacrifice enough right now".

I was wondering about the Catholic stance on fasting while nursing...does that still apply if you're nursing, say, a one year old? It seems I go from nursing to pregnancy so if I followed that I would almost never fast (on food, anyway). Just curious...

8 kids and a business said...

A friend who's a priest makes a special bread (in his bread machine) that he uses when he fasts. It's made of spelt flour and includes nuts, seeds, dried fruit, even the occasional piece of dark chocolate. When I sarcastically remarked, with my mouth full of bread, that he was cheating, he said that no he wasn't because he only eats one slice 3x on fast day. Who am I to argue with a man of God? There are some people, who for medical reasons, shouldn't fast from food but can fast from other things. I can't fast because my blood sugar dips too low when I don't eat regularly and I once had to rush to the aid of an elderly woman during Friday Lenten Mass because she hadn't eaten in 18 (!) hours and fainted.

Agnes said...

I read a book about Medjugorje and I actually tried to fast on bread and water last lent, on wednesdays and fridays, but only for breakfast. Substituting even ONE meal, twice a week, with a tasteless piece of bread and water was soooooo hard. My flesh wanted to scream OUT: I WANT COFFEE! I WANT A PIECE OF FRUIT AT LEAST! Some days, I failed. But then I picked myself back up and kept going. This year, I think I am going to try to fast on bread and water on select days as well, because it is SOOOO character building...or faith-building I shall say. It's difficult but nothing worth doing in life is easy, right?

I'm glad to have read your post and get inspired to fast again like that this lent! Agnes

Agnes said...

Also, I love your blog!!! I will add it to my reading list! Can't wait to read some of your "marriage" posts as I'm getting married in a little over 6 months.

Anabelle Hazard said...

Ennoh, I hear ya. Yesterday in fact I fasted from the internet because I had no sleep from the tornado warning going off. On days I have headaches, I figure that's my cross so I EAT. But on good days, Our Lady gives me the grace to manage everything even on a hungry stomach. In fact there are days I'm surprised at my productiveness. I guess I would just ask for grace.

Anabelle Hazard said...

Mary, I love water so it's not a sacrifice for me :) Hot tea would be a sacrifice. LOL.

Amy, I think nursing is nursing no matter what age. Ask your pastor to be sure but I didn't fast on bread and water even when my daughter was 18 months old. I think I abstained from sweets for Wed and Fri.

Terry LOL on your mouthful. I felt guilty about my banana nut bread and stopped making it but thanks for telling me what that priest said.

Agnes, thank you. Congratulations! I'm making your polish treats on a feast day soon.