Dimensions of the Fast

10 April 2013

We know the grace of fasting from Isaiah, who rejected the Jewish way and taught us true fasting: that we should nor fast because of conflict and strife, but to loose the bonds of injustice (Is. 58, 4, 6). And the Lord says that we should not go around scowling, but should wash our faces and anoint our heads (Matth. 6, 16-17). Let’s bear ourselves as we’ve been taught, then, and not seem downcast in the coming days, but let’s face them with a bright countenance, as befits saints. Nobody who’s heartless is crowned, nobody who’s dejected wins the prize. Don’t scowl when you’re being looked after. It’s inappropriate not to rejoice over the health of our souls and to be sad over a change of diet and to give the impression that we’re more concerned about the pleasures of the flesh than we are about the cure of our souls. Because being sated confines satisfaction to the belly, but fasting elevates the benefits to the soul. Be happy that the doctor’s given you the medication that will destroy sin. Just as the worms that sometimes infest the bowels of children disappear with drastic medications, so sin, which lies in the depths of the soul, is killed by fasting.


Don’t alter your face the way the hypocrites do. The face is blackened when the inner disposition is overshadowed by a meretricious external shape, when it’s concealed by falsehood as if with a veil. A hypocrite [the Ancient Greek word for an actor] is someone who impersonates someone else on stage: he might be a slave in real life, but impersonates a master; and if he’s an ordinary citizen, he could pretend to be a king. And in this life, too, there are many people who act parts on the stage of their lives, some in their hearts, some for the benefit of others. So don’t alter your face. Whoever you are, appear to be so. Don’t pretend to be woebegone, looking for praise because of your self-restraint. Because if you boast about a good deed, it’s of no benefit to you; and no gain comes from fasting if you publish it. Because anything that’s done for show doesn’t last to bear fruit in the future life, but merely results in praise from other people.

Fasting is the civic arrangement of the town, the stability of the market, peace within homes, preservation of goods.  Do you want to understand its magnificence? Compare the evening today with tomorrow and you’ll see the town changing from turbulence and confusion to profound serenity. I hope that today will be like tomorrow in its decency and that tomorrow will know no less joy than today.


Source. Two words on fasting.