Thursday, November 13, 2014

Why We Fast

The Nativity fast (which is less strict than the Lenten fast) begins on Saturday, and I’ve personally found it helpful to meditate on the words of St. John of Kronstadt when preparing for it:

“Fasting is a good teacher. (1) it soon makes everyone who fasts understand that a man needs very little food and drink, and that in general we are greedy and eat a great deal more than is necessary. (2) Fasting clearly discloses all the sins and defects, all the weakness and diseases, of our soul…(3) It shows us the necessity of turning to God with the whole heart of man, and of seeking his mercy, help and saving grace. (4) Fasting shows us all the craftiness, cunning and malice of the bodiless spirits, whom we have hitherto unwittingly served, and who now malignantly persecute us for having ceased to follow them.

Those who reject fasting forget from what the fall into sin of the first men proceeded – intemperance – and what means to counter sin and the tempter were indicated to us by our Lord, when he himself was tempted in the desert – he fasted forty days and nights. They do not know – or do not wish to know – that a man most frequently falls away from God through intemperance.”