Two weeks ago when Holy Father Francis asked us to fast for peace in Syria and the world, it threw me into a tailspin. I have already disclosed my detestation of fasting in previous blog posts .Although, the Holy Father did not mention how to do the fast, a priest friend suggested bread and water. Once again I rebelled in my mind remembering how it used to be when I did that type of fasting over 15 years ago. [cf. Blog Fasting During Lent] My mind started reeling with ideas of how I could survive this fasting day rather than looking at it as an opportunity to offer up my hunger for the perilous condition of the world.
I am seeing that the more I refrain from fasting the worse I dislike and fear it. I have gone from bread & water - to no sweets - to choosing what type of ice-cream I like least as my method of fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Once I stood in the truth, I discovered my fear and unrest came from not wanting to be obedient to the Magisterium and thus closing myself off from the graces that come from that obedience. Instead of embracing the Holy Father’s proclamation and my priest friend’s suggestion, I quickly tried to change the recommendations. I contemplated doing bread and water for breakfast and lunch, then eating a regular meatless dinner, so sort of making it a combination with the Good Friday type of fast, which I felt would be easier. I turned the whole event around to being about “me” not about the suffering humanity. I saw how consumed I am with my routine, my comforts, my love for food, and how adverse I am to going without and being told what to do. I saw just how high of a pedestal I was climbing.
I also realized I had closed myself off from the graces that come with my entrustment to the Blessed Mother for I thought I had to fast relying on my own will power and strength. My fear came from my past struggles/failures when I tried fasting on my own.
Finally, once I succumbed to the Holy Father’s request, and entrusted my fasting to the Blessed Mother there was peace. Yes, I was hungry and weak, but also calm and content. This experience truly showed me how much grace is attached to obedience. Little did I know that the Holy Father’s announcement of fasting would lead me to fasting from my good impression about myself by seeing who I truly am when closed to God’s graces. Yet this spirituality has taught me to be joyful when being purified and humbled as it helps me turn back my focus onto my merciful Lord. And in reality this was such a gentle experience allowed by a God who loves me so completely.
“On your path to God, do not be surprised that you discover your own misery and nothingness more clearly. You should receive these revelations with joy. For, if you were perfect, then you would not need God. Only the person who experiences his own misery can turn his heart away from himself toward the Lord, who is knocking.”
S.C. Biela, Open Wide the Door to Christ, (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005), 42.
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