“Not all can accept this word,
but only those to whom that is granted.
Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so;
some, because they were made so by others;
some, because they have renounced marriage
for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.” (Matt 19)
In this passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus talks about the importance and indissolubility of marriage and summarizes it by saying, “Whoever can accept this, ought to accept it.”
A good marriage takes a lot of work. It’s a big responsibility. For the vast majority of Christians, marriage is meant to be forever so that the spouses can assist each other on the road to holiness and heaven.
There is a prophecy from Sr. Lucia of Fatima regarding “the final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan. The battlefield is the family. Life and the family.”
One need only to look around at our world to see marriage and the family are under attack: same sex marriage is now legal in most states and in Canada, living together before marriage is common and accepted as the norm, and contraception and abortion use are now considered “acceptable.” Couples getting married today face a 50% divorce rate. Transgender kids as young as five and nasty custody battles are becoming more commonplace.
We are living the culmination of Sr. Lucia’s prophecy. And perhaps we feel helpless. Maybe we feel there is nothing we can do.
However, there is something very important we can do: fast.
St. John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae (1994) said, “Jesus himself has shown us by his own example that prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil.” (P.101-102)
St. Theophan the Recluse said, “When there is no prayer and fasting, there are demons.”
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “In our own day, fasting seems to have lost something of its spiritual meaning, and has taken on, in a culture characterized by the search for material well-being, a therapeutic value for the care of one’s body. Fasting certainly brings benefits to physical well-being, but for believers, it is, in the first place, a “therapy” to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God.”
Many Catholics mistakenly believe that fasting only belongs in Lent. Up until the 1960’s, fasting was recommended and encouraged during the entire year. Fasting on bread and water two days a week (usually Wednesday and Friday) is a very powerful weapon in the fight against evil. Fasting on less food and abstaining from meat, treats or coffee are also good ways to deny one’s self.
Benefits of fasting:
- Fasting opens up our hearts to conversion
- Fasting gives weight to our prayer intentions
- Fasting strengthens us in resisting temptations
- Fasting and prayer promote peace in our hearts and peace with one another
- Fasting teaches us the difference between “wanting” and “needing”
- Fasting reminds us of the plight of the poor and for many in the world who are perpetually hungry
- Fasting and prayer can free us from addictive behavior
- “Fasting will lead us to a new freedom of heart and mind.” — Fr. Slavko Barbaric O.F.M
- Fasting invites the Holy Spirit in to heal our hearts, our relationship with God and our relationship with others
With all fasting, we strongly recommend consulting your physician— as everyone’s physical health is unique.
Fasting is not always easy. Fasting takes a lot of work. Fasting takes self-control. But whoever can accept the challenge to fast, ought to accept it.
Our world needs fasting. In Scripture, (Mark 9:27-29) Jesus tells the apostles that said that some demons can only be expelled through prayer and fasting. This is the power of fasting and this is what our world needs.
Evil exists in our world.
Join the movement. Try fasting.
For more information on how to get started with fasting, check out our website (http://livethefast.org) Always check with your physician before beginning any fasting routine.
To sign up for our free biweekly fasting newsletter, click here.
Live the Fast is a Roman Catholic Apostolate that is focused on bringing more awareness to the discipline of fasting by offering educational resources on prayer and fasting, a prayer community that will inspire one to live the fast and providing nutritious fasting breads. (Priests and religious receive fasting breads and resources free of charge.)
Ellen Gable Hrkach 2016