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How to Lose Weight the Fast Way

How to Lose Weight the Fast Way

::disclaimer:: This post is not intended to cause distress toward those who suffer from eating disorders. The title may inadvertently suggest that. What this post *IS* is geared toward spiritual fasting and the fruit that comes from that. 

I’ll never forget the Thursday evening that kicked this whole thing off. I stared at the list of options on the clipboard for a spiritual bouquet. Myself, along with our entire team of Jesus Is Lord facilitators were putting the bouquet together for the program’s upcoming confessions in the church. With over 250 attendees from our Spring English program alone and combining our Spanish course as well, we were in desperate need of more confessors. The spiritual bouquet was both for our confessors and that enough brother priests would answer the call to help shower down God’s mercy on the attendees.

That was 33 weeks ago.

I remember looking at the options and thinking nope, nuh uh, don’t think so…OH! I can do THAT! I’m not sure why, but fasting jumped out at me. It was just after 7 p.m. and I had already conveniently missed dinner with the rush of getting to the parish hall to make sure things were set up. In my mind, I had the whole thing figured out. I’ll just go home, suffer and whine a bit, then go to bed…tomorrow will be somewhat harder, but I think I’ve got this. This will be easy.

The next day I was – shock of shocks – HUNGRY!! Why didn’t anyone tell me this was going to be…HARD? What’s worse is that my husband and I decided to eat our typical date-night dinner in, which meant preparing the children’s dinner and then preparing ours after they had said prayers and been sent to bed.

I wasn’t just hungry by the time we ate. I was ravenous.

As we sat down to eat and said grace, I said nothing to my husband who had no reason to suspect I had willingly starved all day. That first bite of food was INCREDIBLE. Seasonings, spices, and the overall flavor of the food was somehow…enhanced. It was like I noticed my food as opposed to taking it for granted.

I should mention I had absolutely no intention of going any longer than 24 hours, but as circumstances unfolded – meaning, I did not purposely seek to fast those first few days – God would reveal His challenge for me.

It wasn’t until I met with my spiritual director that following Friday that I finally mentioned the daily fasting. The first week had provided such insight and productivity that I was actually excited to continue! Instead of feeling slumped over and in pain from not eating, I tackled projects I had put off for years. I couldn’t explain this surge in energy, but I wanted to explore it more. For the time being, it would be a one-day-at-a-time commitment, but I was excited to see where it would go. After fleshing out the pros and cons during spiritual direction, I went home and told my husband, who was shocked but cautiously supportive.

And so began my journey of fasting.

 MY OBSERVATIONS

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Prior to the spiritual bouquet, I had not been able to take advantage of such intense fasting before due to being hypoglycemic. This means my blood sugar plummets if I don’t watch what and when I eat. I have a history of passing out – outside of church, seeing spots in the pews, feeling lightheaded and dizzy, especially during winter when you go from colder weather into buildings that are adequately warmed up. It is aggravated during pregnancy. Knowing this has prevented me from really exploring fasting. It seemed physically impossible. Only one time in 33 weeks did I experience the effects of being hypoglycemic, and due to my hyperawareness and vigilance I knew it was coming and was able to avoid the crash, praise be to God!

DISCIPLINE

Because I freely chose to continue the fast, I knew I could set it up however I wanted. I prayed and asked God to let me know exactly what my daily fasting should look like. When I made the decision not to approach this with a sense of legalism, it freed my mind and heart to really focus on what God wanted me to do. For me, that meant keeping my morning coffee, thank you Jesus! I also gave myself permission to eat if I ever felt like I needed to. In those first days, I would often wait until dinner was prepared and we sat together to eat. Like most families, dinner isn’t always served at the same time and the longer I went without eating, the more anxious impatient ugly STARVED I became. From that realization, I eventually adopted my personal 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. rule. 3-5 p.m. is always the hardest time of the day. As I attuned myself toward prayer and sacrifice and suffering, I immediately felt that pull that there was someone out there who needed my 3-5 p.m. suffering specifically. And, in case you haven’t noticed, there is an overabundance of suffering out there in the world that cries out to us in which we can unite ourselves! Sometimes, God would place a specific intention, person, or situation on my heart to which I could offer that tough part of the day. Like literally, I could not shake this urge to pray and be intentional with my suffering for a specific person. Other times, I would spend time in perpetual prayer for someone from the moment I wake up. The variety by which I was able to suffer each day astonished me. Never before had I called to mind exactly how fasting could be such an intense prayer that I could offer up. I felt completely consumed and used up and so completely at peace with this seemingly small offering. My two hours a day felt like I intentionally offered something for someone else and united me to Christ’s suffering on the Cross. It was nothing short of amazing. I felt like through the fasting, I was able to obtain for a time this ability to really connect with God. I was able to hear His marching orders for my life with incredible clarity. There are really no words to describe this.

33 WEEKS

About halfway through the exercise, I counted how many weeks I had been fasting when I decided that it needed a limit. 33 weeks. Why not? As the weeks went on, I felt called to end the fast on Thursday, September 25, 2014.

IS IT FIVE O’CLOCK?

After tinkering with my discipline for a few weeks, it became evident to me that I needed a cutoff time, whether dinner was ready or not. I gave myself permission to eat once it was 5 p.m., by having a snack or eating early. Additionally, there were plenty of celebrations, birthdays, feast days, that essentially required me to eat much earlier than 5 p.m. By my own design and with God’s loving Hand, I opted to utilize a 3 p.m. break in fast for feasts such as Easter, my own birthday {I lamely celebrated with only a strawberry limeade from Sonic}, family members’ birthdays, and even being on vacation. I wasn’t trying to prove something. I just wanted to leave enough room to both enjoy the day while still offering some part of the day for suffering. It always worked itself out. God always saw it through. There were also a few days in which I was able to {unintentionally} go far beyond 5 p.m., the latest I recall close to 9 p.m. Though I would not recommend doing that very often, the acute hunger from those days were reminders from everything to offer up that suffering for a particular friend, to keeping those who suffer from starvation in mind.

OFFER IT UP!

I can’t even begin to explain the spiritual fruit. It was AMAZING. I saw God move mountains. I found myself looking for things to offer up versus my usual waiting for those to ask me to pray for certain things. I noticed that because I was being more proactive with my suffering, I was able to share what I had been doing with friends and family. I was humbled to be able to offer up that growly tummy for their heartaches, for their confusion, hurt, sorrow. There wasn’t much that I didn’t offer up. If I thought of it, if God placed it on my heart, or if someone who knew asked, you could bet I was making time to specifically fast for whatever was needed. Each month when I met with my spiritual director, I would give a quick report as to how things were going and whether I still felt like going.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, & THE RIDICULOUSLY UGLY

To this point, I have pretty much painted a wonderful picture of spirituality – given you all the pluses and benefits and bonuses. What I haven’t yet shared with you is that with the good came much bad and even more of the ridiculously ugly. There were plenty of days where my own personal sin wouldn’t just be reflected in the mirror – it became magnified. Venial sins came to light in a new way…God revealed behaviors of mine that, while on the surface seemed to be petty annoyances to my spiritual journey, were actually harming my ability to live in right relationship with Him.

WHAT MY DAY LOOKED LIKE*

Because a few have inquired what a typical day looked like, I went ahead and added this additional section. No, I did not eat anything all day, although as mentioned before, if I had felt like I needed to, I would have eaten. I also drank water {or soda occasionally} throughout the day and as needed. It was more of a food fast than a liquid fast. Hey, I’m human! Through this discipline, I discovered that I had an incredible amount of self control, something I never thought possible before.

PRACTICAL OBSERVATIONS

I noticed that I spend a lot of time thinking about food! If you’ve ever followed our What’s For Dinner? threads on Facebook, you probably have some idea of what I’m talking about. Everything from noticing the impact of my consumption on the grocery bill, to thinking about dinner at 9 a.m. {my poor husband who is always accosted by texts from me asking what he wants for dinner at 11:30 a.m.!} and wondering what kind of deliciousness we would have that evening, I noticed how much of an impact food had on my life. I love spending time with girlfriends and hanging out with friends in general, so I loved that this particular time frame worked with eating dinners out with friends and family and didn’t much interfere with my so-called old person social life. 😉 I also observed that once I eat for the day, I am typically “done,” my energy spent. Not eating, as odd as this sounds, actually helped me get more done through the day. Eating slowed me down. Weirdness, I know.

NOW WHAT?

As you read this, I am likely contemplating my first breakfast in 33 weeks. I have already been mentally and spiritually preparing myself for this day. Though my official fast has now concluded, and I look forward to eating our Saturday morning Kreitzer Family favorite of egg, sausage and croissant casserole, I still reserve the right to resume my fasting whenever I want if I feel called to continue for any specific intentions.

SOUND OFF: Have you fasted before? What spiritual fruit did you experience?

Me with two of my Jesus Is Lord cohorts

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Conversion Discipleship Faith Formation Ink Slingers Jesus Is Lord Jesus Is Lord course Martina Series

Jesus Is Lord: Intentional Discipleship and Commissioning {week 10}

week10Welcome to the Jesus is Lord series! This course offered for adults at St. William Catholic Church in Round Rock, Texas.

If this is your first time visiting this series, I encourage you to take a few moments and read through the series introduction that will give a clear picture of the purpose and content of the Jesus Is Lord course. The introduction post not only outlines the course, but goes over the motivation to share in this class on the internet. 

Today is the LAST CLASS! Last week’s class was about Jesus is Lord of My Sexuality

INTENTIONAL DISCIPLESHIP

Father Dean gave a concluding talk on intentional discipleship and our parish with respect to stewardship and mission, and the New Evangelization.  

He read a snippet from Blessed John Paul II’s Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in America:

How can we fail to emphasize the role which belongs to the Virgin Mary in relation to the pilgrim Church in America journeying towards its encounter with the Lord? Indeed, the Most Blessed Virgin “is linked in a special way to the birth of the Church in the history … of the peoples of America; through Mary they came to encounter the Lord”.(18)

Throughout the continent, from the time of the first evangelization, the presence of the Mother of God has been strongly felt, thanks to the efforts of the missionaries. In their preaching, “the Gospel was proclaimed by presenting the Virgin Mary as its highest realization. From the beginning — invoked as Our Lady of Guadalupe — Mary, by her motherly and merciful figure, was a great sign of the closeness of the Father and of Jesus Christ, with whom she invites us to enter into communion”.(19)

The appearance of Mary to the native Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac in 1531 had a decisive effect on evangelization.(20) Its influence greatly overflows the boundaries of Mexico, spreading to the whole Continent. America, which historically has been, and still is, a melting-pot of peoples, has recognized in the mestiza face of the Virgin of Tepeyac, “in Blessed Mary of Guadalupe, an impressive example of a perfectly inculturated evangelization”.(21) Consequently, not only in Central and South America, but in North America as well, the Virgin of Guadalupe is venerated as Queen of all America.(22)

With the passage of time, pastors and faithful alike have grown increasingly conscious of the role of the Virgin Mary in the evangelization of America. In the prayer composed for the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops, Holy Mary of Guadalupe is invoked as “Patroness of all America and Star of the first and new evangelization”. In view of this, I welcome with joy the proposal of the Synod Fathers that the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother and Evangelizer of America, be celebrated throughout the continent on December 12.(23) It is my heartfelt hope that she, whose intercession was responsible for strengthening the faith of the first disciples (cf. Jn 2:11), will by her maternal intercession guide the Church in America, obtaining the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as she once did for the early Church (cf.Acts 1:14), so that the new evangelization may yield a splendid flowering of Christian life.

Stewardship – in order to make that transition, it’s a substantial leap going from ownership to stewardship. We live in a capitalistic society…that’s not the paradigm that we should be living by. We are caretakers of the gifts that God has entrusted us to. And we have the freedom to not be incarcerated by all we own that we can do exactly as Christ wants us to.

Father Dean finds himself over the years at St. William using the words intentional disciples more and more and in various contexts, from parishioners to the office staff. And, from that perspective, we want to do things with intentionality. If St. William hires a new position i.e. coordinator for volunteers, we don’t just want to form volunteers, but rather we want to form and sustain them. He believes those in attendance this evening {the room is filled with JIL attendees and elective course attendees who are JIL graduates} are the ripest crop of those who are able to commit themselves intentionally to Christ to use their gifts and talents to benefit our institution, the Catholic Church, not just St. William but the body of Christ.

 

The harvest is great, but the laborers are few – let’s change that.

We don’t want warm bodies to fill tasks, but rather

follow through with intentionality and purpose.

 

This evening we have our volunteer coordinator here – he has created a survey for volunteers and to find ways to play to their gifts and talents, their charisms. How is the best way we can care for these gifts and grow them so that they can flourish?

It is his desire, hope, and prayer that whatever we do as a parish community that we do it with a sense of intentionality. That things don’t happen by accident…let’s desire to do the work of the Church – Go and make disciples of all nations…Jesus’ first and foremost command was to go make disciples.

“We want to improve future semesters. We want that continued desire to encourage or suggest…Father Dean jokes perhaps we can strong arm ONE other person to come and give Jesus Is Lord a try for next semester. Our parish is over 6000 families and continues to grow. We have a great harvest before us. And you are the laborers, not being formed accidentally, but intentionally.”

It’s amazing to Father Dean to be pastor and to sit back and think about how God is working in this community. Definitely in ways he’s never seen before in his 25 years of priesthood. He commends everyone for their dedication and intentionality to be disciples that Christ has asked us to be.

Thank you and encourage others to explore opportunities to grow in their faith and the Kerygma, the Good News of Jesus Christ. 

COMMISSIONING

At this time, Father Uche came up and explains the invitations and their purpose. Attendees are encouraged to prayerfully decide how many invitations they would like to take, no less than one invite and as many as they think would like to come to graduation next week. Attendees walk to the front and take the number of invites they’d like and then form a circle around the entire room. Yes, this is a LOT of people! Father Uche then takes holy water and blesses these invitations and the attendees in their commissioning of bringing the next group of JIL attendees in for the January session. Here are a few pictures from the commissioning.

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PERPETUAL HOMEWORK 

Though the class has now ended, you can continue with daily homework in the form of praying each day read. Reflect on the daily readings or the reflections from One Bread, One Body. You can access them by going to the USCCB’s website OR you can download the Laudate app {available on iPhones and Android}. The One Bread, One Body reflections can be accessed through the Laudate app by going through Daily Readings => Reflections.

For more reflection, click to download Praying with Scripture.

 

CONCLUSION

Prayer of Abandonment

Father,
I abandon myself into Your hands;
do with me what You will.
Whatever You may do, I thank You:
I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only Your will be done in me,
and in all Your creatures –
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into Your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to You with all the love of my heart,
for I love You, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into Your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for You are my Father.

Charles de Foucauld