Sunday, November 8, 2009
FATHER SLAVKO BARBARIC'S BOOK ON FASTING
Tonight I would like to share an excerpt from Father Slavko Barbaric's book on fasting. This is one of the books that I brought home with me from Medjugorje. It is a very interesting book. Every word in it is full of meaning. And it is certainly worth reading a thousand times.
THROUGH FASTING OUR HEART BECOMES PURE
It is now important to reflect upon another consequence of fasting. Through fasting, our hearts become more pure. We see reality in a better way. We find it easier to see what we have, what we need and what we don't need. We become free from the inner pressure of wanting and needing to have more and at the same time forgetting what we have already. Everything is relative in life. That means, things are not as important as we think sometimes. We live in a situation of believing that material things are very important. We forget the dimension of being pilgrims in this world. There are many people who would be happy if they had a roof over their heads and just a little bit of bread every day. And how much happier would they be if they had as much as we have. And yet, we often are unhappy and not content, although we have so much. The reason for the discontent lies in the fact that we don't see the essential anymore. We have become blind to the essential. Therefore, we are convinced that we need to have many things. With fasting, we find it easier to see the essential things of life. Therefore, fasting is so important. In making us interiorly free, fastng makes it easier for us to move towards God and towards people.
WHY FAST ON BREAD AND WATER?
In Medjugorje, the Madonna has asked to a return of 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. If one has never fasted at all, it may be very discouraging to begin to fast on bread and water only, unless one receives a call from the Lord. There are other ways of fasting which will accomplish the same objective in us and, at the same time, help us to move towards the best fast. For example, self denial from certain foods, eating foods without seasoning, eating foods we dislike, skipping desserts, and simply eating considerably less at each meal are just a few ways of fasting related to food. The important thing is that we begin to fast in some way - now. In Medjugorje, however, there is an emphasis on fasting on bread and water, and there is a profound meaning to it.
Bread is the food of the poor. To have or not to have bread is one of the essential questions of our existence.
The Bible often speaks of bread. God provided bread (manna) for His people during their journey across the desert (cf. Ex 16). In His teachings, Jesus speaks of the bread that has come down from Heaven. An angel brought bread and a jar of water to the prophet Elija when he was exhausted from fatigue (cf. 1 Kings 19), and after eating and drinking, Elija regained his strength and continued his journey.
Is it not remarkable, on the other hand, that according to the Gospel, the poor are closest to Jesus? They ate with Him and followed Him and listened to His words. After speaking to a crowd, hungry not only for His words but also for bodily nourishment, Jesus multiplied the loaves (cf. Mk 8:1-9; Mt 15:32-39). By multiplying earthly bread, Jesus prepared the people for the Bread from Heaven.
The willingness to live on water and bread for one day shows a willingness to be poor before God, well-disposed towards His will. It means following in the footsteps of the prophets and in the footsteps of those who have been put to the test in order to give testimony to their faith.
Bread is the basic food for His people and at the same time bread is the symbol of life. Water is also irreplaceable in our life. Water is also a sign of spiritual purification. In these two truths the message is expressed: come back to life and live. Come out of your impurities and be pure. We are invited to live on bread and water two days a week. As the Madonna said, bread and water are the ideal fasting. The person who lives in this way, two days a week, is certainly doing something good to his body, spirit and soul.