When the early Church gathered for prayer, they did something before and something after. They fasted before praying. This freed them, "releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke" (Is 58:6). They were free to hear the voice of God, pray the prayer of faith, go up prayer-mountain, and move the mountains of the evil one (Mt 17:20-21). After they prayed, it was not that the people just went off; rather, they were sent off (Acts 13:3).
The assembly at prayer should be a launching pad, shooting Spirit-filled, empowered, commissioned believers into the world. Propelled by the community's prayer and fasting, we rescue people from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light (Col 1:13) and attack the gates of hell that cannot prevail against us (Mt 16:18).
The Catholic Church has traditionally emphasized fasting, praying, and sending. Before receiving Holy Communion, we are to fast for at least an hour. I recommend we fast for a significantly longer period of time. After Holy Communion, we are sent out with the final blessing. This is what the word "Mass" means: "sent." Fasting, praying, and sending launched the first missionary journey, and will certainly begin the final one.
|Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant the Nihil Obstat ("Permission to Publish") for One Bread, One Body covering the period from April 1, 2005 through May 31, 2005.
†Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, October 12, 2004.