Astrid Bennett Gutierrez Reflects on “Fasting for Life”

Astrid Bennett Gutierrez Reflects on “Fasting for Life”

Astrid Bennett Gutierrez Reflects on Fasting for Life

This year I received one of the greatest gifts ever thanks to a prayer campaign. I share this in the hope that many of my friends and family will also be blessed. It’s fasting. The habit of fasting has been a miracle in my life.

I began fasting on water only on Wednesday and Friday (24-36 hours) for the unborn on Jan. 1st and I did so with trepidation and concern, believing that it is a severe penance that might harm my health. It was supposed to be for 90 days but I’ve kept going because what I found was not a punishment but a blessing. Like so many forgotten or abandoned church traditions, fasting is a treasury of blessings. I did not feel too hungry or weak, quite the opposite. The pro-life work that I do is high-octane, stressful stuff, right in the middle of L.A.’s abortion ground zero, and instead of feeling weak I felt a spiritual strength that I had never felt before, a deep, perceptible peace in the middle of the battles. Instead of feeling distracted by hunger, I felt a mental focus and clarity that allowed me to do my work with peace and tenacity.

Intrigued by this phenomenon, I researched and found the testimony of Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin who recommended a book by a French monk, “To Love Fasting: The Monastic Experience,” written in the 80s. The monk, Adalbert de Vogüé, also wondered why the practice had been abandoned even by monastic orders despite its history and the example of the saints, especially St. Benedict in his Rule. The personal experience with fasting De Vogüé describes is similar to mine: a strength, a focus, mental clarity, and joy.

I am especially grateful that fasting has healed a lifelong depression that made mental prayer (heart to heart conversation with God) very difficult. Six months into the practice of fasting, I realized this emotional lethargy was practically gone and that I could be at prayer, like a soldier at his post, but more than that. And isn’t it always the case, that when we set out to do something for God or for others, that there are blessings waiting for us? I don’t know why fasting has been largely forgotten or minimized but it’s a great time to unearth this spiritual treasure to make reparations for our own sins and expiation for the sins of the church and the world. And if our prayer and work to end abortion is to be efficacious, St. Paul recommends that prayer be accompanied by sacrifice. Some demons are only expelled through prayer and fasting. And what do we make of Jesus’ words “When you fast…”

Thankfully, I have no health conditions or take medications so fasting was practical, even on my busiest days, especially on my busiest days. If any friends would like to try to grow in this habit, try it. You’ll likely be as amazed as I was. I think the vast majority of people can fast with little to no problems. If you have health conditions please consult with your physician, but you can also read the works of Dr. Jason Fung, a nephrologist (kidney specialist) who explains how to fast in a prudent way. In addition, he explains the proven benefits, one such benefit known as autophagy, a cell-renewal process, is a discovery for which a Japanese scientist won the 2016 Nobel Prize for medicine. His books are “The Obesity Code” and “The Complete Guide to Fasting.” He also has many videos on Youtube. Many people have healed from obesity, diabetes, cancer, bipolar disorder, etc.

If you are struggling with a physical ailment or mental health condition, or struggles in the spiritual life due to vice, addiction, or sin, fasting could be the key to unlock many blessings as it did for me and make you a stronger, more powerful warrior for Christ. God bless you!

 

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