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November 10, 2011 A.D.

Yesterday, November 9, was the last day of the 9-day bread and water fast. Over the past several weeks, we have heard from many all over the nation and world who were participating in this fast, and who were everything from excited, to apprehensive, and even a little scared about making this commitment to fast for 9 days on bread and water. One thing that was unanimous with all, was that all felt that they needed to do this fast. Our friend from the Philippines whose letter was in the last writing (see here) on the fast, writes us on Day 9:


Dear Caritas, Praise be Jesus and Mary! I made it through the 9 days. Surely it was war even up to the last hours just before midnight. But earlier that night I capped the fast with a 6 pm mass in our church for thanksgiving. Even in the church I was feeling cold sweat and a little weak. I was tempted in the evening to just think about what to eat the following day but I fought it by praying the Divine Mercy chaplet and another Rosary just before midnight. It was indeed a physical and spiritual purification for me. Thank you and God Bless. I know the battle continues but I am happy to fight with our Lady!

E.B.
Pasig City, Philippines
 

Fasting is indeed a spiritual and physical purification. The Community of Caritas, has begun again working on the Retooling, which was one of the main intentions of the fast, and had spent the last week of the 9-day fast working very long hours, and even into the middle of the night. Our work does not stop just because we are fasting, and many times offers us the opportunity of physical and spiritual purification during the 9 days.
 

The Caritas Community has a tradition of ending the 9 day fast together praying the fasting novena, and with a meal late in the night. This time was no different. As the Community gathered at the Tabernacle of Our Lady’s Messages for the traditional meal, the founder, A Friend of Medjugorje, asked some Community members that were nearby, “Are ya’ll happy? Are ya’ll happy, happy, happy?” Of course everyone was happy to be able to eat! This is a joy that everyone experiences ending the fast. But the joy is not just a physical joy of being able to eat, but also and mainly a spiritual joy of being purified, as it is often noticed that prayer and discernment becomes clearer after a fast.
 

Particularly joyful were the smallest children of the community. Though they did not do a complete fast on bread and water during the 9 days, they gave up sweets, and made other sacrifices such as some gave up all liquids but water, and many times they also fasted on bread for meals. So they all felt the impact of the fast in their own way and were excited for the day to come when they could have something sweet. Our community usually prefers to break our fast on a simple meal of hamburgers and fruit. Last night, laid out on the table was a pretty display of fresh strawberries, grapes and tangerines with bowls of powdered sugar beside them. Down the line were the hamburgers and all the fixings—lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, peppers, and onions. While we waited for everyone to gather for the meal to say the blessing, two-year-old Victoria, whose little face was directly eye-level to the table, suddenly slipped her hand beneath the plastic wrap covering the dill pickles, lifted one off the plate, proceeded to dunk it into the powdered sugar bowl and plop it in her mouth before anyone could even make a comment. She seemed quite satisfied with her choice of “bitter and sweet”. Though she was unaware that she had anyone observing her, her spontaneous action brought a smile to quite a few faces. Our founder, upon seeing the whole scene transpire, immediately thought of the following message of Our Lady:
 

July 25, 1987

“…Dear children, pray and accept all that God is offering you on a way which is bitter. But at the same time, God will reveal every sweetness to whomever begins to go on that way…”
 

The community would never think of our 9-day fast as “bitter,” though it is sacrificial for the purpose of purification. Yet there is definitely a “sweetness” to the first meal following the completion of the fast, an enjoyment that is heightened after denying ourselves our normal cravings the past week and a half.


As the Community gathered to pray the novena together, we ended with the 7 Our Father’s, 7 Hail Mary’s and 7 Glory Be’s, along with the fasting novena. After the prayers the founder let one of the children pick a Medjugorje message from Words from Heaven at random. Following is Our Lady’s message to the Community, ending the 9 day fast:
 

August 14, 1989 (Special Blessing)

"My dear children, tonight your Mother is happy, happy, happy to be with you and to see you in such large numbers. I am happy for what we have done in this Year of the Youth. We have stepped a step forward. I would like to see in the future parents in the families work and pray as much as they can with their children, so they can, from day to day, strengthen their spirit. Your Mother is here to help each one of you; open yourselves to your Mother; She is waiting for you. May this moment you will live at midnight be a moment of thanksgiving for everything you received during this year."
 

It was a beautiful confirmation of what the founder asked earlier, “Are ya’ll happy, happy, happy?” and it was a beautiful message from Our Lady for all of you who joined us physically and spiritually in this purification. May the days ahead continue your spiritual growth on the foundation of the 9 day fast. Please always remember to pray for the mission of Caritas, the Community, and particularly A Friend of Medjugorje who guides the mission and his many responsibilities. Winter is planting time for our next year’s spiritual projects, writings, etc. and A Friend of Medjugorje has already begun this work. Thank you and always remember we are praying for you as well.
 

In the Love of the Two Hearts,
Caritas of Birmingham

 

Some Pictures of the Work from During the Fast

 

Community members working during the 9-day fast

Burning the “ 2AM oil”, not the “midnight oil.” Most days of the 9-day fast we’ve had to work as late as 2 AM, and still be awake for 5 AM prayer. We are working, laying new conduits for a complete new phone system.

 

Community members working during the 9-day fast


This work also includes reworking and rerouting water lines. Our long hours are necessary to beat rainy weather. Despite the fact that we are on a 9-day fast, we never slow down. The fast added to our work makes for a more sacrificial life. Our Lady said:


May 25, 1990

“…I invite you to decide with seriousness to live this novena. I am with you and I desire to help you to grow in renunciation and mortification that you may be able to understand the beauty of the life of people, who go on giving themselves to me in a special way…”

 

Community members praying and knitting

The community gathers around a long trench praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet as some members are laying conduit for the future phone system for Our Lady’s mission. A young community girl is busy knitting a Christmas gift as she stands watching the work. With Christmas just around the corner, every minute is precious so it’s common to see our little girls toting their crafts around, while everyone knows not to ask too many questions.

 

Community praying with cows in the distance

Just beyond the parameter of our parking lot, is a pasture where Caritas milk cows graze. The trench will hold cables bringing into the Tabernacle of Our Lady’s Messages more than 100 phone lines that will be utilized to communicate around the world. Caritas of Birmingham is an international mission, reaching all corners of the earth with Our Lady’s Medjugorje messages, yet the foundation of our life is found in the simplicity of Our Lady’s messages. One can run an international mission and still maintain a simple life.

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