No I'm not. And I don't think I'll ever be one. But I do like imitating their lives and reading up on them better than say rock stars or movie stars. I find the glamorous lives of celebrities to be disturbing and depressing. I would rather unravel great stories of human struggle and divine triumph for I am a sucker for happy endings. Take for example the life of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, who had the gift of stigmata. God endowed Padre Pio with many extraordinary spiritual gifts and charisms including the gift of healing, bilocation, prophecy, miracles, discernment of spirits, the ability to abstain beyond man's natural powers from both sleep and nourishment, the ability to read hearts, the gift of tongues (the ability to speak and understand languages that he had never studied), the gift of conversions, levitation, multiplication of food, the grace to see his guardian angel and other angelic beings in form, and the fragrance which emanated from his wounds and which frequently announced his invisible presence. But inspite of all these gifts, Padre Pio remained humble and felt unworthy to receive such graces. He was known to practice fasting, vigils, solitude and various other mortifications which played an important role in his spiritual development, strengthening him in virtue and liberating his spirit from all selfishness. He abstained from watching television, listening to the radio and reading the newspaper and cautioned his spiritual children from all forms of media.

A couple of years ago, I read this article of Bro. Bo Sanchez entitled 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting. He invited his readers on a 40 Day prayer and fasting during the Lenten Season. Aside from the spiritual benefits, he elaborated the many healing and cleansing properties of abstaining from food. Here are some of the blessings that fasting brings:

Blessing 1:Prayer and Fasting Bring You Closer to God

Blessing 2:Prayer and Fasting Unite You with the Poor

Blessing 3:Prayer and Fasting Opens You to God’s Power

Blessing 4:Prayer and Fasting Cleanse Your Body

Blessing 5:Prayer and Fasting Empower Our Ministry

And there are many ways to do fasting:

Option 1:Water Fast

Option 2:Juice Fast

Option 3:Bread and Water Fast

Option 4: One-Meal-a-Day Fast

It was Lenten season in 2007 when I tried the 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting. I did the One-Meal-a-Day Fast and it was truly challenging especially since I was working during the day and would only eat at night. All day I would consume nothing and sip some water. When I felt the pangs of hunger, I would pray to God or read spiritual books and make Jesus or His Word my nourishment. This went on for 23 days. But on the 24th day I had to give it up because I didn't have the strength to go on fasting. This ordeal was truly the most challenging yet most gratifying experience of my life. I may have lost 30 pounds but I gained so much wisdom from it and the spiritual high was really mystifying. I wanted to do this every year but my family was not comfortable with the idea for I acquired GERD eventually. But I can guarantee that there will be a next time. Actually, I am making everyday fasting and abstinence day. In my own way, I vow to fast and abstain from indulgences and luxuries each day. It may be in a small or large manner. But however which way that I choose to sacrifice some of life's pleasures each day, I am sure that this will help me grow spiritually and mentally as a Christian. And I will find favor in the eyes of the Lord and draw closer to Him. The virtues that I will also gain from my self-denial will be invaluable and unrelenting. I want to invite you dear reader to join me in austerity and let us reap the spiritual rewards and offer our sacrifices for the poor souls in Purgatory, the salvation of souls and the conversion of sinners. We may not become like the great saints but our efforts will not go unnnoticed in heaven, where ultimately we all desire to join Our Creator one sweet day. Amen!

"Love is the first ingredient in the relief of suffering." - Padre Pio

There is nothing compelling about hunger, but about appetite there is the greatest compulsion, the dreadful gnawing sensation driving one to eat almost anything that is offered, even civilized men eating each other when driven by this compelling desire or goaded on by their atavistic fear of starvation. - Dr. Hay, The School of Self-Applied Prevention by the Barefoot Herbalist

VISION OF HEAVEN - An Excerpt from Mary's Little Messages

The message stopped and I was wondering why I did not hear the Mother. So I read the message that was given to me and when I came to the end part, I cried and could not believe the Mother would show me Heaven. I closed my eyes and then all I remember is, holding on to Blessed Mother’s hand. I could not see at first because it was too bright. Then I saw the Blessed Mother dressed in gold with a crown on her head, unlike you would see on a statue. She smiled at me. The air seemed different, it was so easy to breath and I could smell a fragrance like that of flowers. I then saw many Angels and they were lined up in perfect order like a choir. I remember the words “Rejoice” and music like I have never heard. I then saw this big golden chair and next to it I saw a man who looked like Jesus. The Mother told me he was St. Joseph and he took my hands. We did not talk. I then saw a young man standing and he took my hands. He had a robe on and the Blessed Mother said, “This is Padre Pio” and she said, “he helps you very much.” I then met others who I do not know and the Blessed Mother said “They, too, help you on earth.” They did not talk, but they touched my hands. Then I saw a long table and it looked like it went for miles. I could see it set all in gold, but no food, there were beautiful flowers on it. I could see people sitting down and next to them were some empty chairs. I remember holding the Mother’s hand as we walked along side this table. The empty chairs, the Mother said, were for those who were coming soon to Heaven. The longer we walked, the brighter it became and I could see colors of a rainbow everywhere. I was amazed with all the colors and as I looked straight ahead, I saw Jesus and I could see His Heart and many rays or light coming from Him. He took my hands and I knelt down and kissed His feet. He put His hands on my head. I could not talk. He said to me, “Fast and Pray so more can one day see Heaven.” I remember these words and I will never forget them! I then remember waking up and my head was on a pillow. I cried because I did not feel that heavenly presence. There was no more brightness and the air seemed heavier. I got but a glimpse, but it seemed like it lasted forever. I will share all that I have seen and I know in my heart I will work hard on this earth. For there is nothing more beautiful than Heaven and I hope one day I can be up there sitting with everyone. Thank you Jesus and Blessed Mother, this is my most special day. Love Mary B.