Some people go through an entire life not knowing their purpose or why God has given them the gifts he has. Up until June of 2010, I was a secure, self-employed businessman, married for 35 years, with two adult children as partners in our enterprise. My priorities were golf, business, family, and God in that order.
I met Jim Caviezel at the Catholic Men’s Conference in 2010, and he invited me to Medjugorje. At the time, Medjugorje was not on my radar; in fact I could not even spell it or know where it was. After the invite, I boldly told Jim, “Do not get your hopes up. I am not flying 15 hours to say a rosary.” Today I pray the rosary not say the rosary.
Tears in Medjugorje
Our Lady has a way of showing us a different path, and she certainly did with me. I am forever grateful for her love, and the direction she used to bring me back to her Son. While behind Saint James church in Medjugorje, I experienced for the first time a life confession filled with love, forgiveness and continuous tears. After two and a half hours, tears soaked my shirt. This single experience of the sacrament made the biggest impact on my life.
I now go to daily Mass, read scripture and pray the Rosary daily, go to Confession weekly and fast on bread and water on Wednesdays and Fridays. Medjugorje and Our Lady have transformed my life. Now I know why she is called Queen of Peace.
While in Medjugorje, I started reading all the books of Father Slavko Barbaric, and his books on fasting intrigued me. Fasting is a tool that Our Lord has given us by example. Yet it is rarely practiced, and seldom taught in our church today. Should fasting be a way of life today as in biblical times? I believe so!
‘Our Lady is the FedEx to her Son’
Until we are able to detach ourselves from the worldly things I do not believe we are able to get closer to God. Our prayer intentions are sent to God by way of snail mail, and with fasting it becomes a FedEx to Our Lord. In fact, I often like to say to my friends, “Our Lady is the FedEx to her Son, Jesus. How would you like all your prayer intentions to come back with a confirmation from Our Lord?” I can say this because I am sure that my full conversion could not have been possible without fasting.
Here is an example of how God answers the prayers of those who fast. Our family bakery founded LaVallee’s Fasting Breads in early 2012 and launched a pilot program during the Lenten season of that year. More than 250 people committed to deepening their prayer and fasting during the Lenten fasting challenge.
Quick confirmation by telephone
While at Easter Mass in 2012, when I returned from receiving the Holy Eucharist, I prayed to God about the possibility of a year-round fasting program. I specifically asked Our Lord to give me a direct message that I could understand if he wanted to continue this project year-round.
Our Lord didn’t waste any time. On that same night, I received a telephone call at home from my Dad’s best friend, a man that I had not spoken to or seen in over 35 years. I hadn’t seen him since my father’s funeral in 1975. Mr. Bill Toland read an article on LaVallee Fasting Breads in the Boston Pilot Newspaper and opened the conversation by saying:
I don’t know what prompts an 86-year-old man to call someone that he hasn’t seen in 35 years, but I am reading the Pilot and this article on you and the fasting breads. I want you to know that if your Dad were alive today, he would be very proud of this project and I also want you to know that you need to continue this. The Church needs fasting.
You see, in one phone call Our Lord answered my prayer and defined what he planned for me when he created me. The gift of 40 years of experience in the bakery business allowed me to learn how to create the proper fasting breads, and help answer his Mother’s call to prayer and fasting. Father Svet once said to me “Andrew if you do not do this, no one will. Our Lord has saved this task for your life.
Our Lady of Medjugorje has called each of us. I encourage you to prayerfully consider deepening your spiritual life through fervent prayer and fasting and allow yourself to be fully transformed in the light of Our Lady and her most precious Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
(© 2014 Andy LaValle)
Andy LaValle founded the Catholic apostolate www.livethefast.com, to bring back awareness to the practice of fasting, create nutritional fasting breads, and build a prayer community to support each other through prayer and fasting. Andy wrote his reconversion story, From the Hub to the Heart: My Journey, with Leticia Velasquez.