At the Catholic Men’s Conference in Boston in 2010, Andy LaVallee met Jim Caviezel, not knowing he portrayed Jesus in The Passion of Christ. Jim dared Andy to go with him to Medjugorje, an obscure, poor village in Croatia. For more than thirty years, it has been alleged that the Virgin Mary has been appearing there and calling her children to live lives of prayer, penance and fasting.
Andy writes, “At the time, Medjugorje was not on my radar; in fact I could not even spell it or know where it was. . . . 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.”
Andy wrote his reconversion story, From the Hub to the Heart: My Journey, with Leticia Velasquez. In my favorite chapter, Andy compassionately explains how fasting on bread relates to the Eucharistic bread. This comes from a man who never fasted before making a pilgrimage to Medjugorje in 2010.
Miraculous circumstances took this owner of a successful family bakery business to Medjugorje, inspiring him to make a life confession. Andy’s journey to discover God’s purpose for his life makes up the first part of this captivating book.
Then his new passion for fasting takes over. He calls fasting “the tool to change your outlook most effectively.” He writes, “For me, there was no quicker, more consistent practice to bring me closer to God than fasting combined with prayer.”
A skeptic and a sinner, Andy found that prayer and fasting caused a renewal of his soul. It helped him overcome all the impure thoughts, the vulgar mouth with which he swore 1500 times a day, the disrespect and pre-judging of all mankind, the excessive drinking, the prideful talk and the lying to everyone about who he was.
Andy dug into everything he could find on fasting. He is well qualified to explain, clearly and sometimes with humorous stories, what fasting does for the body and the soul. His experiences prove that with prayer, fasting is the first and most effective weapon against the forces of evil.
Fasting taught me great discipline with other areas of my life. When I fast, I feel an incredible freedom. When I have the courage to surrender and place all my concerns in God’s hands, for Him to deal with my intentions, I have an overwhelming sense of elation and joy. It is like a strong adrenaline rush in which fasting is no longer an obligation for me, but fills me with a God-centered love, a love of knowing that I participate in a practice that Jesus himself did, his Mother did, and the Apostles and saints did. I now have a feeling of anticipation that I cannot wait for the next fast day.
Andy LaVallee 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.
(© 2015 Nancy HC Ward)