The State of Virginity

The State of Virginity
I should like you to be free of all worries. The unmarried man is busy with the Lord's affairs, concerned with pleasing the Lord; but the married man is busy with this world's demands and occupied with pleasing his wife. This means he is divided. The virgin - indeed, any unmarried woman - is concerned with things of the Lord, in pursuit of holiness in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has the cares of this world to absorb her and concerned with pleasing her husband. I am going into this with you for your own good. I have no desire to place restrictions on you, but I do want to promote what is good, what will help you to devote yourselves entirely to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:32-35

Monday, November 9, 2009

FAST WITH THE HEART BY FATHER SLAVKO BARBARIC

Father Slavko Barbaric has written many good books. His book "Fast with the Heart" is one of them. This is the last book written by Father Slavko. It is a key and an answer to the questions of what, why and how concerning fasting in our lives. Those who are ready to respond to Our Lady of Medjugorje's call to pray with the heart and to fast with the heart will find this book very useful.

In Medjugorje, the Madonna has asked for a return to fasting. In response to the question, "What is the best kind of fast?", the Virgin responded, "Bread and water, of course." We recognize that bread and water is not the only way to fast but it is the "best" way according to the Madonna. One has to grow into "bread and water" fasting.

Tonight, I would like to share an excerpt from Father Slavko's "Fast with the Heart" with the whole world. Very beautifully written, isn't it?

BREAD AND WATER - PILGRIM'S FOOD
In the first place, the call to a life with bread and water is a call of preparation for the meeting with Christ in the Eucharist. At the same time, this call wants to increase our awareness of our life's pilgrim journey on earth. Man's entire life and all his activity can be seen from the standpoint of a pilgrimage.

Through the history of man's thought, and especially in the past decades, frequent theories have proclaimed man to be a wanderer on this earth - as not knowing where he comes from or where he is going. The Christian standpoint pertaining to man is completely different. In his essence and according to his nature, man seeks God. In himself, he bears questions about eternal life, happiness and peace and the answer to these questions is God. Man does not wander about aimlessly. He journeys towards his fullness and the final truth about himself, which he can only realize in God. This is why man, in himself, is a pilgrim. A pilgrim in turn, is someone who leaves his daily life, work, security and joy and goes on a journey towards individuals and places where he can meet God more easily - where God has revealed Himself in a special way.

In the past there were no modern means facilitating quick and easy transport from one place to another. Pilgrimages lasted for weeks, months and even years. A pilgrim was only able to bring with him the basic necessities of life: bread and water; and this is what he did. Leaving behind his daily life and going on a journey with a bag on his shoulders containing bread and water, he freed himself of all burdens and every excess. Free in this way, he was able to go on to individuals and places where he sought to meet God. These places, however, were only points of passage from which he proceeded further or returned to his daily life. Even his return to everyday life did not stop portraying the characteristics of a pilgrimage because a person does not have a permanent residence in this world. He is on a pilgrimage towards the eternal homeland of complete peace, joy, eternal life and unity.

Today, by living on bread and water, man retains his freedom. He does not become a slave to material things or a victim of false promises. In his freedom, he is prepared to love, to forgive, to overcome conflicts and to live in peace. Whenever man forgets his pilgrim journey, he stops on the way and destroys himself in anxious concerns of this world.

God also gave man the Heavenly Bread. He gave His Son Who by His presence has become man's continuous companion on his pilgrimage. This is why, the Messiah's name is Emmanuel, meaning 'God with us'. God journeys with man as Bread, that is the life to the world. When a believer forgets that his God journeys with him in the form of Bread, he turns to the world where he can never feel well, without being turned towards God.

In this context, the final meaning of fasting is found. Fasting is not only a means of healing, calming and freeing. Together with prayer and charity, it is a fundamental means to a religious experience; namely, to an awareness of the truth about oneself and for opening oneself to God, Who has decided completely for man.

FASTING AND GOOD WORKS
Already in the Old Testament, it is emphasized that it is not sufficient to fast and pray. Instead, through fasting and prayer man, as a believer , must be made capable of good works. This is why fasting, prayer and good works always go together and are a condition of each other. The one who fasts and prays will become free to realize what he has, what he needs, and what he can give to others to do with as they will. The aim is not so much to place what one has and does not use for the use of the poor, as it is for man's demands to be reduced to their proper measure. If a person does not fast and pray, his needs will continuously increase and he will not be able to control them. The more we need, the less we have to give to others. We become agitated, violent, avaricious, miserly and unjust about many things that we are convinced we need but do not have. It can be said that others convinced us that we must have them. In order to be able to follow the rhythm of the world, man is forced to work more, to 'spend' his life, to neglect his spiritual values and family and even to destroy his own life.

Through fasting a person becomes capable of seeing more clearly so that his relationship with material things can change. In particular, the value of fasting and prayer is measured by a change in such a relationship and in an end to the race for material goods. Sensitivity to the situation of others and a readiness to help are the main criteria for fasting and prayer. If someone fasts and prays without his sense of responsibility growing and without being prepared to do something about it, the value of his fasting and prayer is brought into question. Someone who fasts and prays must become generous, merciful and sensitive to others. He must be able to recognize Christ in the poor, the misfortunate and the needy. He must do everything he can for others out of love for Christ, Who has identified Himself with each one of us, especially with the poor and the needy.

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