Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fasting: From the Really Ancient Orthodox Mothers Digest Archives

I decided to go back to my saved copies of the original email group that inspired this blog. In August 2004, Jennifer Hock offered these great bits about fasting that she had learned from a year of reading about the topic:

1. "Fasting is not a mere matter of diet. It is moral as well as physical. True fasting is to be converted in heart and will: it is to return to God,to come home like the Prodigal to our Father's house." - Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia

2. In the words of St. John Chrysostom, it means "abstinence not only from food but from sins." The fast he insists "should be kept not by the mouth alone but also by the eye, the ear, the feet, the hands and all the members of the body. The eyes must abstain from impure sights, the ear from malicious gossip, the hands from acts of injustice."

3. "It is useless to fast from food, and yet to indulge in cruel criticism and slander - You do not eat meat but you devour your brother." - St. Basil

4. "As we fast from food, let us abstain also from every passion... Let us observe a fast acceptable and pleasing to the Lord. To control the tongue, to forbear from anger,To abstain from lust, slander, falsehood and perjury. If we renounce these things, then is our fasting true and acceptable to God.Let us keep the Fast not only by refraining from food,But by becoming strangers to all the bodily passions.
- The Triodion

5. Bishop Kallistos also goes on to say that fasting should always include three things: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. If you do not include the other two with fasting then you have "become pharisaical or even demonic". Fasting without prayer and almsgiving "leads not to contrition and joyfulness, but to pride."

6. In the Gospels, the devil is cast out, not by fasting alone, but by "prayer and fasting".

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