June is quite the month. On consecutive Sundays, we’ve celebrated the Feasts of Pentecost, Most Holy Trinity and today, the Most Holy Body and Blood. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
At the institution of the Eucharist, Jesus enjoins us:
“This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.
This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” – 1 Cor 11:23,25
Dear Reader, there is every likelihood that you are peerless in your adherence to Our Lord’s twin exhortations. But if you want to magnify your efforts, heed on.
Fasting For Love of Christ
I’d like to introduce you to Sr. Emmanuel Maillard. She entered the Catholic Community of the Beatitudes in 1976 and has lived in Medjugorje for the last 33 years. She extols the virtues of an age old but forgotten instrument in her book: The Forgotten Power of Fasting. And Sr. Emmanuel (EM) herself reminds us that “the Blessed Mother has only one goal: to reveal Jesus, to bring us closer to the heart of Jesus.” Our Lady of Medjugorje has given us 5 points for becoming saints: Praying the Rosary, Fasting twice a week, Going for Confession, Receiving the Eucharist and Reading the Bible. Sr. EM wrote her book to assist people who nail all but one of these. You guessed it: Fasting.
What has Fasting got to do with the Eucharist? Glad you asked.
Our Lady, according to Sr EM, wants us to fast two days of the week to immerse us into the mystery of the bread and to contemplate the mystery of the redemption.
Our Blessed Mother never asks us to do what she hasn’t done before. All Jews, including Our Lady, St. Joseph, and Jesus fasted for two days of the week. Our Lady asks us to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. The reasoning is brilliant!
First, we need to celebrate every Thursday as if it were Holy Thursday. It is a joyful commemoration of the gift of the Eucharist and the Priesthood. The fasting on Wednesday is a way to prepare for the Eucharistic feast. And on Friday, the fasting you might think was to commemorate the death of Jesus on the Cross. Au contraire. To Sr. EM’s astonishment, this is never the reason given by Our Lady! Instead, she wants you and me to savor the memory of the taste of the Bread, to remain “immersed in the mystery of Christ.”
Fasting like this is a celebration of the Feast of Bread, the Bread of Life.
Pan de Vida
Why bread and water? Let’s cue up Sr. EM again.
Everything is connected to the Eucharist. Jesus says: I am the bread of life. Jesus is at the center of all that the Virgin Mary asks us. By fasting on bread and water we become more capable of welcoming the Bread of Life.
To end, let’s turn to the Blessed Mother and hear her message of January 25, 2001:
Dear Children! Today I call you to renew prayer and fasting with even greater enthusiasm until prayer becomes a joy for you. Little children, the one who prays is not afraid of the future and the one who fasts is not afraid of evil. Once again, I repeat to you: only through prayer and fasting also wars can be stopped, wars of your unbelief and fear for the future.
Our Lady throws down the gauntlet: will we join her and embark on twice weekly fasting on Bread and Water out of love for the Eucharist? May God give us the strength to hold fast to the promises of Christ!