Jesus said with the utmost clarity: “Some devils can only be cast out by prayer
and fasting.”(Mt. 17:21) Often the devil or devils have a real stronghold
in our lives, and to make things worse, we are not even aware of it. One of the
greatest victories of the devil is to hide or camouflage himself, or better
yet, trick us into believing that he does not even exist!
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, in his
rules for discernment (Rule 13, first week of Rules for discernment) states
that devil likes to work in secrecy and strives to get us to keep our interior
lives secret to everybody. This secrecy even includes hiding our state of soul
to our Confessor or Spiritual Director.
The same saint emphasizes the fact
that when we are going through tough times of desolation a tactic of the devil
is that he convinces us to keep it under
lock and key, keep it to ourselves—top secret! As such the devil will magnify
and accentuate our problem transforming it from a mole-hill into a mountain. A
small cut can get infected, and eventually turn gangrenous and even lead to an
amputation. Spiritual maladies have to be brought to the Spiritual doctor— that
is to say, a good Confessor or Spiritual Director.
An essential tool to be used
frequently, prudently, and with proper spiritual direction is the tool of
penance; and fasting is one of the primary applications of the penitential
On one occasion while I was taking a
walk, a big black bird was in my path. AsI drew closer, I expected the big bird to take flight, but he did not!
At first, it occurred to me that maybe I was a modern Saint Francis, but that
was not the case at all! The bird was land-bound for the simple reason that he
had either wounded or even broken one of his wings!
A spiritual reflection flashed across
my mind and it was this: we can be
compared to that black bird!The bird is
created to fly high into the deep blue sky! Likewise the human person, created
in the image and likeness of God and baptized into the family of God, is called
to fly high in the spiritual life, and eventually reach heaven.
However, for the human person to soar
high into the mystical heights he needs two strong wings, to loft him on high:
1) Fervent prayer, and 2) constant penance. The Spiritual writers call these
two dimensions of the spiritual life the Ascetical life which leads to the
This being said, we would like to
outline some of the basic reasons why the human person should pray fervently
all the days of his life, but at the same time cultivate a penitential life
marked by the practice of fasting. Unless we have strong and sufficient reasons
to motivate us we will never really undertake the practice seriously. Here we
go with the reasons to learn to fast:
1.IMITATION OF CHRIST.Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Indeed He is our model!Jesus fasted for
forty days and forty nights in the desert, giving us an example to follow. (Mt.
4:1-11) Few if any of us can fast forty days and forty nights—the duration of
the Lenten Season! But we all can do at least a little. The Saintly Cure of Ars
said that fasting is hard just at the start and then it becomes a habit.
2.PERSONAL REPARATION.We are all born as sinners with Original Sin.
Then during the course of our lives we commit actual sins. In justice we are
obliged to repair for the sins we have committed in justice towards God. An old
Midas muffler commercial put it succinctly: “Pay
now or pay later.” Better for us to pay now than later in Purgatory.
Fasting indeed can be a powerful means to shorten our stay in Purgatory!
Prayer to repair for family discord
3.FAMILY REPARATION. We all know of
family members, either in our blood family or family circles, of members who
have simply walked away from God, no longer believe in God, are indifferent to
God or even at times violently opposed to all that refers to God. These
individuals who were redeemed by the Precious Blood of Jesus are in desperate
need of prayer and fasting. Our Lady of Fatima warned us seriously: “Many souls are lost because nobody prays
and offers up sacrifices for them.” Who knows, maybe our acts of penance
could saveimmortal souls for all
Jesus weeps over the abortions
4.SOCIAL REPARATION. On the level of
our nation we must apply ourselves to serious prayer and reparation and fasting
due to the many moral evils that are afflicting our country—especially the
scourge and plague of abortion. About every 20 seconds a baby is aborted, three
a minute, and 4,000 a day in USA. Since Roe vs. Wade, Jan 22nd,
1973, approximately 45 million surgical abortions have been perpetrated. Due to
the fact that this river of innocent blood of innocent babies has been shed, we
all must feel it incumbent upon ourselves to carry out fervent prayers and
fasting. Actually the Bishops of the United States have proclaimed January 22nd
as a National day of prayer and penance (fasting) to repair for the sins of
abortion as well as to prevent future abortions! Let us all do our part with
Pope JPII after attack
5.CAST OUT DEVILS.As we said earlier in the essay Jesus said
that some devils can be cast out only by prayer and fasting.Saint Pope John Paul II mentioned in one of
his discourses that sin can even be institutionalized—that is to say embedded
or deeply engrained in the fabric of society. How true even more so today.
Abortion institutionalized since 1973, the legalization of Same-sex unions that
have the same legal status as Traditional marriages, States legalizing
Euthanasia—the killing of the elderly and infirm, widespread legalization of
embryonic research resulting in killing of the little/tiny babies in
laboratories, the deep encrustation of the pornographic culture destroying the
minds and hearts and families at large. This institutionalization of sin can
only be cast out and conquered by the strongest spiritual medicine—fervent
prayer to Almighty God and rigorous and constant penance. One of the most
convincing examples of prayer and fasting was the person of the Cure of Ars,
Saint John Marie Vianney. He fasted many days by eating nothing, or eating once
a day on two or three potatoes, and then sleeping only three hours a night. His
fervent prayer was: “ Lord send me any
suffering but save the souls of my parishioners.” Let us pray that we would be
imbued with the spirit of the saints and undertake in our lives fervent prayer
but also fasting. Let us fast in this life so as to feast forever with God in
heaven for all eternity!