Ever wish you had better spiritual munitions, especially now, when dealing with these times of the coronavirus-19? Well you do with a PB-59, fasting, and almsgiving--weapons that provide great protection. So how are you doing? Want more peace than fear? Then it's time to take up these powerful arms and go forth. And here are your first three armaments--free with no shipping charge, delivered right to the door of your heart.
Weapon #1 PB--59
Now this first beauty comes in many colors and materials such as wood, crystal, metal, or colored glass; and can even be found in a smaller version, called the PB-10. The smaller model is a splendid concealed weapon, particularly good for outdoor walking during these winter/spring days. Most folks call the PB-59 "The Rosary," but the name PB-59 comes from its 59 prayer beads.
When I first became a Catholic eleven years ago, youth leader Neil Raymond was known for saying, "The Rosary is the bomb." I didn't understand what he meant until I looked it up. When the atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima Japan, a mission house of eight German Jesuit missionaries who lived just eight blocks from ground zero were completely spared with no long term effects. Fr. Schiffer, a survivor, said,"We believe that we survived because we were living the message of Fatima. We lived and prayed the rosary daily in that home."
But praying the Rosary is also like getting a daily mini-Bible lesson, and it is something anyone, in any station of their life, can DO. At Fatima, Our Blessed Mother could have asked each of us to go to mass daily, but she requested daily prayer. Why? Because as I am meditating on the Mysteries, they become even more vivid with each recitation. The Bible becomes alive. And as I am praying the Rosary, I am also hiding each family member and other concerns within a decade. So as I am praying the Rosary and meditating on the Biblical life of Jesus and Mary, I am also praying for my family, friends, Catholic Church, and the world. My PB-59 is effective on many levels.
Once or twice a week fasting, abstaining from food or eating sparingly a certain kind of food, is a powerhouse spiritual weapon that comes with two bonuses:
1. Combined with prayers, it can break through spiritual strongholds. Christ made this clear in Matthew 17:21 when his disciples came to Him and asked why they were unable to drive out an evil spirit as Christ, himself, had been able to do. Jesus said, "But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."
2. And Jesus expects us to do it. Let me explain. When Christ was speaking in Matthew 6:17 about fasting, He said, "But WHEN you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you." Our Jesus didn't say "IF" you fast, but "WHEN." If it wasn't optional for Jesus, then it shouldn't be for us followers.
When Michael and I visited old friends on the East Coast last fall, many of my high school girlfriends and their families were dealing with some hum-dinger life situations. Thus the formation of "The Wild Fasting Team." We've got five members from all over the USA and we all fast for each other's and the world's needs as text messages pass between us on Tuesdays. Only two rules: No chewing allowed, and No fasting on your birthday. As Christians, all of us knew that Jesus had set the powerful example of prayer and fasting when He fasted in the wilderness for 40 days and nights before beginning His public ministry. And all of us were seeing a stronger weapon was needed--thus joint fasting.
And what have we seen? Mary, my friend of sixty years, states, "I believe fasting helps me focus on my Lord. I can put my earthly needs aside for a day. It is a personal decision. Pray on it first. But I feel it's had a positive impact on my life and others." Susan, a nursing mother who can only fast for one meal on Tuesdays says, "It has been difficult for me as a breastfeeding mom. Even fasting part of the day makes me wildly hungry, but it is a good reminder to be disciplined, and when you feel hunger, to pray." Susan adds, "I really have noticed how many times God actually does answer our prayers or say "yes" to us, and sometimes we don't notice because we are so rushed in today's world. I'm trying to remember specifically what I've asked for and how I'm seeing my prayers answered."
But you don't have to form a fasting team to fast. I decided to fast alone on Tuesday's eleven years ago when I first became Catholic. I KNOW God has used it mightily, even in my weakness, to heal our family and our world. Fasting, whether going without food for the day or denying yourself something very important such as electronic media or that glass of wine, is a mighty weapon we can present as a spiritual service of worship to Our Lord Jesus. Angels cannot fast, only humans can. And even though sometimes difficult, it makes me feel really happy to be able to give something back to God for all He has done for my family and me. (And as a bonus, my once a week fasting might be the reason I can't find my cellulite anymore. A Lovely benefit???)
Before Lent, when we could go to Mass, Father Sam of All Souls Parish here in Littleton, CO, challenged us to give 40 articles of canned food to the poor, one can for each day. On the first day of the Coronavirus self-isolation, while we homeschooled our two granddaughters, we all took those goods and placed them inside our church doors. No one else was there, just the cans that good parishioners had brought; but that act made a huge statement about "almsgiving" to my granddaughters. Almsgiving (the giving of alms or charitable donations) forces me to fully trust in God's provisions and watch Him s-t-r-e-t-c-h our provisions so we/He can give to others. As it clearly says in Sirach 29:12-13:
"Store up almsgiving in your treasury, and it will rescue you from every disaster; better than a stout shield and a sturdy spear, it will fight for you against the enemy."
So if this time in life has you feeling weak around the knees, try these three weapons. Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. God gave each to us; let us present each back to Him.
P. S. And be sure to periodically check in with www.thefrugalcatholic.com Facebook page for further helps, tips, and recipes. Pantry Spaghetti Sauce will soon appear on that page. Cheap, easy and good, and I bet ya have the ingredients in your pantry!!!
Martha Wild King, M. Ed., Author
The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less