When the Medjugorje word on fasting reached us a few years ago (bread and water only every Friday – all 24 hours of it), many people charged into it with willing hearts. The results were interesting. Coffee addicts got blasting headaches that rendered them all but dysfunctional. One religious sister told me she got so weak she couldn’t walk. She had to crawl to the bathroom on her hands and knees. Another woman explained her system of dealing with it. She would have a huge meal very late Thursday and then try to sleep all day Friday. Saturday morning breakfast was becoming the highlight of many people’s weeks. Early. Very early.
I stayed with it as long as I could. I eventually got to the point where I would stay up ‘till midnight Friday, then stuff out. There I would be at a few minutes to twelve, sandwich prepared and glass of milk poured, waiting it out. At the stroke of midnight, I’d get into it and invariably eat too much.
Something had to give. People were getting discouraged about their inability to live up to it, feeling guilty, but quietly giving the whole thing up entirely.
Somewhat consoling words came out of the same Medjugorje a bit later. Not everybody can handle the same kind of fast. Each one has to seek out what’s possible for him/her.
Certain things have become evident. To be effective, the fast we undertake has to be regular. It can’t be something that compromises our capacity to carry out our ordinary duties. It ordinarily has to do with giving up food and drink in some way, but it doesn’t have to be. For people who are unable to tamper with their food programs, other ways of fasting are possible. They can fast from television, from radio, from newspapers. Voluntarily pulling away from things we ordinarily depend on can work to allow us to depend more on God, to be in closer touch with him. In other words, we can pray better.
"Fasting needs to make a comeback. We have lots to pray for."