My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
NOT BY BREAD ALONE: FASTING TODAY IN THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN WAY (PART VII)
By Reverend Father Peter A. Chamberas
Clearly, then asceticism of the Orthodox Church does not seek to punish, to deprive, to torment; it does not seek to reject or diminish human nature. Rather it seeks its therapy and purification, its unfettering and liberation from every sinful bond and passion that hinders and frustrates true and eternal life in God. It is a ceaseless effort of the whole person, body, and soul, seeking to abolish and destroy the roots of evil, to do battle against Satan and his primeval deceptions and influences. It is the necessary orientation of life, requiring constant denial and renewal and ceaseless effort, toward transcendence, toward the evangelical way of transfiguration and restoration of human nature to its original beauty, glory, and honor, and to its being truly in the image and likeness of God.
No ascetic effort by itself suffices, however, without the love revealed in Christ, to bring us close to God. We must avoid the ever-tempting hypocrisy of false religiosity and direct the secondary elements of all ascetic efforts and fasting to their primary goals: the purity and humility of the heart and to the purity and fullness of our love for god and for mankind. FASTING is one of the classic forms of asceticism, ever reminding all Christians of their fallen state of being. On the contrary, without fasting one becomes indolent, negligent and weak in other spiritual struggles, allowing the victory to go to Satan, who is an ever-vigilant and ever-fasting deceiver, who catches us off guard without our proper armor and weaponry. One who is thus well armed and well disciplined in fasting and prayer will acquire the firmness of mind and body to be ready and adequate to respond and repel every sinful temptation or passion.
Here is a beautiful excerpt from Saint John Chrysostom's Homilies on Fasting to conclude this
"The period of bodily fasting comes to an end, yes, but the period of spiritual fasting never ends! This spiritual fasting is superior to the bodily fasting, which has been established in the Church for the sake of this ongoing spiritual fasting. Earlier, when you were fasting, I often warned you that it is possible to be fasting and yet to be not truly fasting. Now, after the fast, I can again say that it is possible to be not fasting, but in fact to be truly fasting! How does one truly fast without fasting? When one eats and partakes freely of all foods, one must also continue in spiritual sobriety and virtue by abstaining from anything that is sinful. It is in this manner, therefore, that we can be truly fasting while not fasting. Sometimes, however, when trying to fast strictly from foods, we may readily find some excuses to adjust or to avoid such ascetic efforts. This is permissible in some cases and for certain people. Although we may sometimes suspend our ascetic fasting from foods, no one can ever have an excuse to suspend or interrupt their spiritual fast, which seeks to avoid sin and to practice virtue!"
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things! - Saint John Chrysostomos
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God