Forward from the book Fast with the Heart by Fr Slavko.
Translated by Rita Falsetto
Without knowing it, I received an extraordinary gift and a special grace from Our Lady. This grace was to be able to work for and with Father Slavko Barbaric for seven years.
During those years, he quietly guided and taught me by what he lived each and every day in the school of Our Lady -
'Life with bread' was an expression Father Slavko used often in speaking about fasting. That expression has forever been etched in my mind and became a concrete reality for me during these years with him. I came to realize and understand what the word FASTING is meant to stand for: Forgiveness, Acceptance, Self-
The purpose of fasting is not to deny ourselves sustenance or to feel hunger, but to grow in the 'inner freedom' necessary to be open to God's graces and love. It compels us, on our emotional, mental, physical and spiritual levels, to reach the purity, humility, peace and joy Our Lady is continually calling us to. I discovered that the goal of fasting is 'perfection and holiness'.
Father Slavko's life was a reflection of a true disciple of Our Lady. She enveloped his very being, and because of this, it was clearly visible that Father Slavko lived fasting and prayer. He lived conversion. He lived the Sacred Scripture. He lived the Sacraments. He was a 'living' example of faith, hope, love, forgiveness, peace, joy, patience and humility.
As we know, God is 'perfect love'. I witnessed Father Slavko's immersion in this love through fasting and prayer. He knew that by fasting, one could reach, could feel, and could experience this love—the very essence of perfection in action.
'Fast with the Heart', is the last book written by Father Slavko. It is a key and an answer to the questions of what, why and how concerning fasting in our lives.
Through this book, Father Slavko has given a most precious gift to all of us. He left behind a 'signpost' to help us become the 'perfect love' of Jesus Christ.
He begins the book with messages from a dear friend, Our Lady of Medjugorje. He walks us slowly and faithfully through the Old and New Testaments and, like an old confidant, he warmly speaks to us about what the Church, its saints and other religions say about fasting.
He then, with great concern and craft, explains the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of fasting. With gentleness and simple, yet profound, heart filled prayers, he teaches us to speak to Jesus. Finally, he educates us in the nutritional aspects of fasting and includes a few recipes for good measure!
The conclusion by Father Slavko does not end with a 'heavy feeling in one's stomach' about fasting, but is filled with several pages of charmingly witty antidotes pointing to the 'lighter' side of fasting! . . .
. .and in wisdom, he then finalizes the pages of the book by providing us with a glimpse into what Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome) has said about fasting in our lives as Christians.
As you pray to the Holy Spirit to guide and open your hearts, may you read each chapter of this book with loving expectation so that you can put its contents into practice and become living witnesses of love towards all. In this way, when you are asked by all those God has placed in your life, "How can I, too, reach this perfect love?" From your own experience, may you be able to answer them, "By fasting and prayer."
Through this work of Fr. Slavko and through his intercession, I pray that Our Lady may give you the grace of fasting, prayer and love!
As Father Slavko always wrote, 'Let it be so!'
Rita Falsetto Medjugorje, 2001