Christian Fasting – What Is It and Why Do Christians Fast?
Christian Fasting – What Is It and Why Do Christians Fast?
A great mystic and famous throughout the world for his holiness, he lived in a cave and was free to pray, meditate and worship. One day he was meditating, a small mouse appeared from his house and approached the man, and because he was hungry, he began to eat sandals with the man’s wages, so the prisoner opened his eyes, and from a lot of jerks, he said to the mouse: Why are you bothering me at the time of my prayer? Answer the mouse’s heartbreak, but I’m hungry.
He shouted in the face of the hermit, “Who can you see?” How dare you interrupt me at the time when I am living unity with God and union in it? The mouse answered him and said your income decreased. How can you unite with God if you are unable to agree with me?
My brothers, prayer is an important thing and the spiritual stance with God is more important, but it will remain incomplete if you do not open my life to my fellow human beings. It is nice that I sit in the church for the next two hours, sanctify every day, and fast every week, but it is better that after I rise from the church, I know the radiance of light and joy around me for all people. Receive and greet everyone with a sweet, heavenly smile.
Christian Fasting – What Is It and Why Do Christians Fast?
Introduction to the Topic
At the beginning of the forty days of fasting and every year, believers ask many questions: What is the meaning of fasting? And why do we fast? And what time do we fast? And what do we fast and how do we fast? … We considered it worth answering these many questions through our contemplation of the Bible and the teachings of the Church and the Fathers.
Fasting was not restricted to Christians only, but we find its effects in various aspects of human life, both religious and civil. The fast of Christians has been affected by:
Fasting, according to dictionaries, is complete or partial abstinence from eating and drinking for a specific period. So it is a voluntary, temporary deprivation of food whose purpose is to keep us alive.
Fasting has effects on all religions, and all religions have adopted it according to their view of the world, existence, and God. Fasting is a practice after religions sometimes changed its goal. Medicine also used it to treat some diseases. So fasting was a vow of healing: healing the “soul” of its filth and sins, and healing the “body” from its afflictions.
In some primitive religions, man fasted to nourish the magical and divine powers that possess the source of food to fulfill his desires and fill him with blessings.
– In the rituals of other religions, fasting in its concept approached the experience of death, so whoever wants to belong to that religion, understands through fasting the sacred value of food. Before his affiliation, he was attached to his mother, nourished by her, and had no social status. By fasting and experiencing death, he is born into a new social situation. Thus, fasting becomes a new identity that stems from the new birth in which a person learns how to respect food as being essential to life.
– In societies that practice eating human flesh, one of the people kills the captured enemy in a ceremony, and then the dead is eaten according to specific principles. And the executioner fasts for a month. By eating the enemy, the people avenge their dead and take his power. By fasting, the executioner destroys all the forces of evil. The people eat the body of the dead, and the executioner by fasting eats the soul.
In the nineteenth century, a strange phenomenon spread: fasting celebration. A man was kept in a cage in the public square for forty days without eating or drinking, and the butchers guarded him. This fasting person repeats his offer to earn a living, for this fast was a scene from the circus.
As for the diet, it shows the relationship of food to the body, as food appears as a threat to health and the body, and it appears as something to heal or beautify, this fasting we see in the world of beauty to obtain an acceptable form.
There is a hunger strike in prisons…etc. These fasts accompanied and influenced the Christian fast.
We will address the issue of fasting under two headings:
1) What is the Meaning of Fasting in the Bible?
- Why do we fast?
- At what time did the believer fast?
- What is the duration of fasting according to the Bible?
- Fasting for us is living with Christ. How do we achieve this?:
- Fasting and sanctification
- Fasting and cleansing
- Fasting and penance
- Fasting and the body
- Just as fasting is repentance
- Fasting is rejection and acceptance
- The concept of fasting for some of the church fathers
Because man is a soul and a body, he needs the actions of the body. Fasting or fasting both are sources. Fasting is fasting and fasting, which is the language of abstaining from food and drink for a period of time. As for the Greek word νεστεια (Nestia), it means to hold and to hold here refers to the control of the body and the soul so that a person becomes a master over his whims and desires.
Controlling the soul and body by humiliating them leads to humility and is a condition for entering the kingdom. The fasting person is as if saying to God: “I am repentant and repentant, and I am not arrogant or arrogant, so there is no need for you to humiliate me more than that.”
Fasting in the Holy Bible is also abstaining from marital relations: “…command a holy fast… and let the bridegroom come out of his room” (Joel 2:15-16). It also includes the intercession of God. We find this clear in the case of David, when his son, whom she bore, fell ill after his sin with her. “May the Lord have mercy on me, and may the boy live” (2 Samuel 12:16-23).
Fasting may be an expression of humility before the Lord, as the Lord says to Elijah the prophet about Ahab the king when he made anointing on his body and fasted: “I saw how Ahab was humiliated before me? Because he has been afflicted before me, I will not bring evil in his days” (1 Kings 21:27-29).
Fasting is the recognition that God is the absolute master and the source of human life before the bread that God gives us: “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Sincerity and serenity to search for the face of God Almighty who sees in secret, the Lord Jesus rebuked the fasting of hypocrisy and pretense, saying: “And when you fast, do not frown like the hypocrites…” (Matthew 16:6-18).
Fasting is one of the three Christian acts (fasting, prayer, and almsgiving (Matt. 6)) directed towards the heavenly Father, who sees in secret, unlike the desire for people to see us, according to what came in the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: “As for you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, for It will appear to people that you are fasting, but to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:17-18).
2) Why Do We Fast?
Fasting in Christianity is a divine law, as St. Basil the Great considers it, the first commandment in the Holy Bible: “As for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, do not eat from it, for the day you eat from it you will die, the death of our Lord Jesus Christ: 17” (Genesis 2:17). On days when the bridegroom is taken from among them, then they will fast” (Matthew 9:14-15). Fasting is a form of repentance that expresses the apostasy in one’s relationship with oneself, God, and others.
Fasting has two sides, physical and spiritual. The physical aspect of fasting is that a person exposes himself from deviant emotions, curbs vices, especially his arrogance, and enables him to control his instincts from freedom of heart and the temptations of the world so that he renews his spirit and soul, and his heart is attached to God. Therefore, fasting is not based on the mouth only, but also on the eyes, ears, feet, hands, and all parts of the body, and is not based on the change that occurred in our food only, but on our heart.
Whoever can control the things that are permitted can control the things that are forbidden. Fasting, then, requires an effort to subjugate a person to himself, in order to draw closer to God and to humans, as “the spirit is exuberant, but the body is weak” (Matt. 26:41).
As for the spiritual aspect of fasting, it is abstaining from sin. It is the attitude of the heart, the humble, repentant, merciful, compassionate heart that seeks to renew its relationship with God. As the prophet Joel says: “Tear your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful, compassionate, long-suffering, abounding in mercy, and repentant of evil” (Joel 2:7-10). A heart wounded by sin, prone to evil and selfishness.
(Psalm 51) It is a time of repentance and a return to oneself with austerity, according to the first word that Jesus uttered after his forty-year fast: “So repent and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15). And repentance, in the Greek word (metanoia) μετανοια, means a change of mindset, and in the Hebrew word (shof) שוב, it means to return. It aims to review oneself, to renew, change, and develop in feeling, judgment, and life, to abandon the old man and wear the new, to move from the old life and return to youth renewed.
Fasting in Christianity is not an end in itself, but rather a means to reach the goal, to God “the bread of life” (John 6:35). Therefore, fasting cannot be separated from the remembrance of the Lord, the main motivator for it. Something (Daniel 9:3). The components of the forty-year fast are to return to God and seek His mercy with determination through acts of repentance, prayer, and almsgiving, and of course, there are spiritual works related to this triangle, which are conversion, reconciliation, forgiveness, love of neighbor, and avoidance of hatred, hatred, and revenge…
By fasting, we express that God is the source of life and livelihood, not bread and meat. “It is written: Man shall not live by bread alone” (Luke 4:3-4). God is the source of our existence, so we must be ready to empty our lives in order to be filled with Him. Let us all fast, united to the Lord, and let ourselves be satisfied with Him alone. By fasting, our Lord responds to us: “We fasted, and asked our God for this, and He answered us” (Ezra 8:23).
With the Others
Fasting in Christianity is a time of returning to one another with acts of love, charity, mercy, and reconciliation. Charity is the attitude of the heart, the merciful, kind heart, which seeks to renew its relationship with others. There is no love without sacrifice, and sacrifice without love is an external matter. Fasting alone does not lead you to heaven, but rather requires you to ascend to it on the wings of love.
By fasting, a person feels hungry and therefore with the hungry. What we fast is not our right, but it is the right of the poor. What you are depriving yourself of, give it to someone else. Fasting acceptable to the Lord, the prophet Isaiah says: “Is it not that you break your bread to the hungry, and bring the needy who are driven out into your house, and if you see the naked, that you clothe him, and that you forsake him?” (58)
Did he laughs Christ: “Come, from your blessing. My little brethren, you have done it to me.” (Matthew 25:34-40) Fasting is like a bird that does not fly except with the wings of prayer and almsgiving. This is the fasting that the Lord prefers: the fast that shows him hands full of good deeds and a heart full of love for others; a fast full of goodness.
3) At what time Does a Deliever Fast?
In the Old Testament, we find that the time for fasting was on different days, depending on the circumstances, including:
Day of Atonement: It is the only day on which Sharia commands fasting. It is the tenth day of the seventh month according to the Hebrew calendar and all that is required: humiliate souls, abstain from all work, and it is a holy holiday, during which they fast and offer an offering to the Lord.
– Time of distress: the Jews used to fast at other times that were not commanded by Sharia, which are:
– The time of preparing to meet God: as happened with Moses (Exodus 34:28); And with Daniel (9:3).
In times of war or the threat of war: (Judges 20: 26).
Time of sickness: David fasted when his son fell ill (2 Samuel 12: 16T).
– The time of mourning: David fasted for seven days in order to kill Saul (1 Samuel 31:13).
– The time of regret and repentance: calamities were considered evidence of God’s wrath, and repentance and repentance were the means of salvation from them. Ahab fasted and humbled himself before God when Elijah warned him of the fate that awaits him to kill Naboth the Yazili (1 Kings 21:27).
The time of perpetual danger: Ezra proclaimed a fast to seek the care of the Lord for him and for the people returning from Babylon to his homeland (Ezra 8:21).
In remembrance of disasters: the 10th day of the fifth month in which the Temple was burned (Jeremiah 52:12). And the tenth day of the tenth month, in which the Babylonians began the siege of Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:1).
– A time of crisis: Fasting occurs when the country is in ruins… (Joel 1:14). In the New Testament, we find two occasions in which God requires fasting:
To expel demons: There are demons that are not expelled except by prayer and fasting. Fasting is indicated here as an indicator of faith (Matthew 17:21; Mark 9:29). On this principle, Christ walked, who fasted for forty days and then fought and confronted Satan, and in his footsteps, the apostles and church fathers walked.
– To carry out a missionary message: When the Holy Spirit said to the disciples in Antioch: “Send out Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I called them. So they fasted and prayed” (Apostles 13: 1-3).
4) What is the duration of fasting according to the Bible?
In the Old Testament, fasting was usually for one day from sunrise to sunset (Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 14:24) and perhaps for one night (Daniel 6:18-19), and Esther’s feast lasted for three days, night and day (Esther 4:16). ) And the people of Jabesh-Gilead fasted seven days for the death of Saul (1 Samuel 31:13), and David fasted seven days when his son fell ill (2 Samuel 12:16-18). Moses fasted for forty days (Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:9)
Likewise, Elijah fasted (1 Kings 19:8). The number “forty”, which is the age of an entire generation, indicates a long period of time, the duration of which is not precisely known. It is likely that this period refers to the time that Moses spent on the mountain or to the forty years that Israel spent in the wilderness (Numbers 14:34), which refers to Elijah’s forty days’ journeys (1 Kings 19:8). In the New Testament, the Pharisees fasted two days of each week out of their own piety (Luke 18:9-12). Thursday is the day Moses the Prophet went to the mountain to receive the divine revelation, and Monday is the day he returned from the mountain.
As for Cornelius, he was fasting for four days when the angel appeared to him (Apostles 10: 1-5). The men who were with Paul on the boat fasted for fourteen days (Acts 27:33). As for the widow, Hannah, she persevered in prayer and fasting day and night, “not leaving the temple, devoting herself to fasting and prayer day and night” (Luke 2:37). Jesus fasted for forty days to open his message with an act
He surrendered to his Father with complete confidence (Matthew 4: 1-11). These forty days are the days of our collective journey to the Holy Eve of Easter, they represent the ascension of Jesus to Jerusalem. It represents the length of the road that separates us from God, our path of return and return, meeting and reconciliation with God at Easter. We do not allow the Passover to pass without entering into its reality and its demands.
5) What is the church’s role in the law of fasting?
Christ laid down the main lines of fasting for us, but he did not specify days for fasting, nor an hour for the beginning of fasting, nor did he specify for this fasting obligation, prohibitions, or permissible things. And what it deems appropriate to achieve the concept and goal of fasting. The church established laws for fasting. Its aim is to guarantee to the believers the minimum necessary in the spirit of prayer and moral effort so that everyone unites in a common practice of fasting and abstaining to disbelieve in themselves and grow in love for God and neighbor.
Fasting in our Roman Catholic Church, as mentioned in the liturgical books and in the bulletins of dioceses and parishes, is as follows: Great Lent: The days of fasting are Wednesdays and Fridays of the week of the lifting of cheese. And Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays are from the weeks of fasting and the Great and Holy Week. Except for the day on which the Feast of the Annunciation falls (March 25). Saturday of Light. It is the only Saturday on which fasting is required. While fasting on the other Sabbaths is prohibited because the Sabbath is linked to the Sunday of the Resurrection.
The days of the division include the entire forty days of fasting, including Sundays. In addition to the Great Holy Week. Except for the Annunciation and Palm Sunday, when eating fish is allowed. Kata’ah means abstaining from meat and meat broth, and from whites, i.e. eggs, cheese, milk, butter, etc… As for fish, it is allowed on certain days. As well as oil and wine on certain days.
This is with the knowledge that the Holy Synod has left each metropolitan to give additional instructions and directives appropriate to his diocese. Hence the importance, necessity, and benefit of fasting for a life of worship and piety, as we see in the Holy Bible. There is no spiritual life without it, and therefore it is not possible to imagine a saint who reached a life of holiness without fasting, just as we cannot imagine holiness without prayer and who changes acts of mercy.
Fasting also has its benefits for spiritual growth in virtues, and for realizing the work of talents in the soul and body. This is why Christ fasted after the Holy Spirit came upon him after his baptism, and the apostles fasted after the Spirit also arrived at Pentecost, and for the same purpose, those with priestly degrees fast after they attain the priesthood degree.
The importance and necessity of fasting and prayer at the beginning of every important work, it is a time of austerity to silence the chants and noises of the body, so that we can hear the chants of the soul and delve deeper into the word of the Lord and do His will.
Otherwise, our fast is just abstaining from food without internal conversion. Fasting is the regression of the heart in-depth, the renewal of life, and the willingness to open the doors of the soul to receive the grace of God. The subject of fasting in the Holy Bible with its Old and New Testaments is related to repentance. The ancient people used to repent, pray and fast for God’s mercy. These three are related
and fully connected to each other. Fasting is a part of the life of repentance. That is why the Church, since ancient times, in the time of Lent, emphasized the idea of the people’s repentance, and the review of the soul, to reach Easter and resurrection with Christ. Fasting, then, is not a ritual that we follow, by changing the habits of food and drink only, but rather it is the fasting of the soul before the body and then followed by the deprivation of the body.
From certain foods, or staying without food. By setting aside time for prayer and a special act of mercy, fasting teaches us self-control over ephemera and makes us look with satisfaction at God’s gifts and remember our poor brother.
That is why, through the Bible, we discover that fasting: is prayer and worship to God, it is contemplation and solitude with Him, and it is an ascent to the holy Calvary, where the cross and the manifestation of His resurrection.
He is listening to his voice in the wilderness of the world, in your room in your work, in your school and university, in order to discover the will of God and to achieve it in your life as Christ achieved it in the wilderness. Through the word of God and the teaching of the Church.
It is to bear with patience, calm, and longsuffering the sufferings and problems of life, and to always appear smiling in front of people. It is love and giving to every human being. It is solidarity with the needy, and your forgiveness and forgiveness for those who offended you. It is the joy of transfiguration, because by your fasting you share with Christ in the joy of his resurrection, in the joy of his victory over sin, over Satan, and over death, so that the brightness of his eternal glory is revealed in you.
After we have tried to answer the questions that a person poses to himself, we find that the most important thing is for a person to fast and experience the meaning of fasting and then understand and discover its benefit. So, let our food during the forty days of fasting be the word that comes out of God’s mouth, because “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word.” come out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), and to do his will, which is saying: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to complete his work” (John 4:34), and to respond to his call and drink his blood, and he accepts his body and accepts his body. For my body is true food, and my blood is drink” (John 6:55).
Meditation text: Jesus fasts in the wilderness (Matthew 4: 1-11; L. 4: 1-13).
Questions: – How did the Lord resist temptation, and how do we resist it?
What does the Lord call us to? And what does Satan call us in the text?
Commenting on the text of the Temptation of Jesus
The First Experiment
Jesus was tempted in the desert, before beginning his mission among men. The desert is the best place for solitude, in which man sees himself in its nakedness, far from the masks and camouflages of society. Satan heard the Father’s declaration, during the adoption of Jesus: “You are my beloved son.” He was terrified of the existence of a man who is at the same time the Son of God, so he made desperate efforts to shake his faith in that divine sonship. But Jesus proved that he is truly the Son of God, by rejecting all suggestions of the enemy of mankind, and by emphasizing his absolute obedience to the will of his Father.
Satan tried to convince Jesus to be the Messiah as expected and imagined by the Jews, so he tried to drag him to extend his control over all the kingdoms of the world, own all the wealth of the universe, and use his supernatural abilities to impose prestige and submission, perhaps by doing so, he would make him betray the message for which he incarnated. But Jesus failed all his attempts, so he came to the world with his love.
Before beginning his great mission, Jesus was keen to subdue his body and tighten his control over it, so he fasted for forty days, in a harsh desert atmosphere. Iblis imagined that this hungry man had become an easy morsel, so he hurried to test him. And decorate for him the transformation of the stone desert into an oven full of delicious and hot loaves. But Jesus repulsed him by saying: “Man does not live by bread alone…”
Jesus taught us by saying that our need to satisfy our hunger does not make us lose control of ourselves, nor push us to barter and exchange ourselves for food. This barter means losing hope for salvation and life, rebellion against trial and pain… and accusing God of all the evils that happen to us.
Jesus, by experiencing hunger, became a participant in every hungry person, and he exhorted and exhorted his disciples to feed the hungry. The need for food is a basic need, and the first thing that dies in a hungry person is his soul, the element capable of accepting God’s words. He who lacks bread will be unable to know and worship God.
Bread is an essential element of life, but there is a more important ingredient than bread, which is everything that comes out of God’s mouth. The greatest hunger in man is the call to respond to the Lord’s call to us, then we will live a life worthy of a human being, a complete response to God. In compliance with this call, Jesus repels the first temptation of the devil.
His mission is not to turn stones into bread, but to carry out the Father’s will. The first temptation was an attempt to solve the issue of God in a human way and turn it into a human need that would be satisfied by material food or work, a profession, a future… But Jesus resolutely eliminated the temptation, expelled all the pretexts and tricks of evil, and called us to be free and responsible before God.
In it, Satan tried to deceive Jesus that, with the help of angels, he could challenge the order of the universe established by God, and in our days he tempts us, humans, with the capabilities of science and modern technologies that can dispense with God. He tried to make Jesus a paratrooper who would fall from the temple as a test to protect his Father, an experiment to abandon his humanity and show his divinity and leadership, but Jesus insisted that Christ be the poor, humiliated, and suffering servant…
Every human being is subjected to the test of his faith, which sometimes seems to us as a leap into the void, and we often feel that God is silent and absent from our ordeal, while God gives us freedom of management and guarantees us the safety of our souls whenever we ask for it. Satan cited Psalm 91, but he distorted it as he wanted: “He who dwells in the confines of the Most High…. Because He commands His angels about you to protect you… They carry you so that you do not hit the stone of your foot.”
If you are the Son of God, then the opportunity is before you to prove that, and all you have to do is throw yourself from the top of the temple, and the wings of the angels will protect you. Jesus’ answer was unequivocal that he trusted his Father and sufficed with his words. This experience was repeated more than once, and we see God’s complete silence during His suffering. And as Iblis said: “If you are the Son of God, then throw yourself…” He said to the passers-by in front of the cross: “If you are the Son of God, then come down from the cross.”
Finally, Satan tried to enter into the conviction of Jesus by tempting him with what tempts many people: that is, power, influence, and subjugation of people, and his condition for achieving this control was that Jesus conspires against him and carry out his schemes.
After the failure of the Devil with the two experiments, he abandoned the method of trickery, and resorted to a new, blunt method, no longer calling Jesus the Son of God, but rather he wanted him to be a slave prostrating at his feet, but he forgot that worship is only valid for God alone. God wanted man to control the earth, but man wanted for himself absolute sovereignty and control.
All the kingdoms of the earth and what worries about this third experiment is that the devil declares that all of them have been given to him and he can give it to those who bow to him. Would that be true? Jesus resolutely repels the offers of the devil, and the Christian bought with the blood of Christ, who with baptism shared in the divine nature and its authority transcends all authorities and kingdoms.
Through the three attacks of Satan, his goal was to divert and distance Jesus from his mission and message and from his character as a son of God. Satan tried his best to tempt Jesus to be the mighty and domineering Messiah that the Jews were waiting for, but Jesus made it clear that he had no desire but to carry out the will of the Father, and the devil left him for a while, but he did not stop besieging him. The victory of Jesus is the victory of absolute trust in God and the victory of holiness to which they are called.
They tell that Ziz once had a lot of love to fly, but he had one problem: he was a lot of advice. Heidi advised you to get tired after how many minutes of flying. Saha consulted his friend who advised him to do a harsh diet! But our friend did not miss two days until he came back to eat more than before, but his desire to fly made him think about what he could do, so he decided to reduce his weight in the simplest possible way, which is to give up everything heavier and fall from his body, all the weight of the increased, and this is how it weakens and becomes light and flies high.
And it was that our friend tried to hide a wage, but he was sitting, he was renting a buga’o. Tried Edo, but Edo was hungry. What Baqlo but Anu Aqsh Shui from Guanho. Tried but nothing ever changed. Reasonable, I would squat after a while, after a while, after a while, and our friends tried to fly, but they all flew on their wings.
My beloved brothers, we are like this, in our relationship with God, we would like to get to Ando as soon as possible and we want to reach the priesthood in the fastest way, but as much as our worries and work take up all our time, we will cut short about prayer, about reading the Bible and meditating on it, and about the liturgy… and we say simple all at once. Until we reach the time when the wings flew to reach the sky. At first, we are afraid of God and after a short time, God becomes afraid of us.
What is fasting? Fasting means being cut off from something. About eating and drinking….etc. Fasting is beneficial, so we see that some fast to lose weight. The doctor prescribes to his patient fasting and abstaining from eating for health reasons. Beauty queens are designed to appear in a way that helps them present themselves…etc.
This is on the material level, but what is the benefit of fasting from the spiritual point of view? In the Old Testament: Moses fasted forty days before beginning his message. Elijah the Prophet fasted in the wilderness for forty days before meeting God. In the New Testament: Christ fasted for forty days in the wilderness before beginning his missionary life.
We note that there are several occasions on which we fast, and all of them precede important holidays, for example fasting and interruption of Christmas, fasting, and interruption of the feast of Our Lady, fasting, and interruption of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the most important of which is the great fast that prepares the fasting for the glorious day of Easter (Easter Feast).
Christ fasted for forty days, after which he triumphed over evil and the sin of the world: the lust of the body, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of wealth (1 John 2:16). The holy fathers likened fasting to a sea voyage that ends with us at the port of peace, that is, the mystery of redemption and the glory of the Resurrection.
Why do we fast?
Fasting for us is living with Christ. How do we achieve that?
Fasting and Sanctification
If we talk about justification, we are talking about sanctification. The first is the door that is freely opened to God by the event of Jesus Christ, and the second person enters with his freedom and commits himself to salvation. Fasting does not take on its meaning except when it helps a person to get out of his confinement and confinement by making him aware of the requirements of the other – God – and the needs of others – human beings. From here, he achieves his goal only by turning to some acts of love, and freely.
Freedom is free and liberating. God freed us with His love, and we, in turn, with the love that overflows in us, work for freedom and liberation, first, to liberate God from all the misconceptions that prevent us from seeing Him as He revealed Himself to us. and secondly, the liberation of man from the barriers of sin. Fasting, when it is based on love, creates solidarity between people and directs them towards true freedom. The hungry, the thirsty, the poor, and the enslaved remain among us the sign of the suffering Christ.
Fasting and Cleansing
Almost all religions knew rituals of purification, using natural elements that have purifying power, such as water and fire…etc. This ritual tried to protect man from his uncleanness. Purification was an attempt by which a person wanted to get closer to the pure and the holy. In the New Testament, the scale has been inverted: the pure approaches the unclean. The Son of God dwells among mankind.
Fasting in our Christian life does not help us to suppress and uproot the passions of the body, but rather helps us to accept ourselves so that we bear the sins of others, following the example of the pure one who accepted to be sin for us. So fasting is not a struggle against ourselves, but rather a struggle against everything that prevents us from being ourselves and against everything in us directed against others.
Fasting and Penance
The New Testament tells us about the history of God condescending and drawing close to man, suggesting that he is love. He is the Father who reconciles the world through the death of his Son on the cross, his resurrection from the dead, and by sending his Holy Spirit. The Father did not use the sacrifice of the Son and his sufferings as a means to silence his anger, as was the concept of the old people fasting and offering sacrifices to please the gods.
In light of the event of Jesus Christ, man must accept, acknowledge and bear witness to God’s initiative, give thanks and live from it. Fasting does not become an act that comes out of the man and becomes outside of him so that he can atone for his sins, but rather it is a testimony that suggests an inner state that stems from the presence of God who dwells in man. It is not an effort that a person makes or a walk towards God that he lives in as if a person takes the initiative. Rather, fasting is an act of awareness that God is here, approached, and called us. Hence fasting is an expression of the presence of Christ the Bride in the life of the believer, and this presence is the secret of human perfection.
Fasting and Food
In a consumerist society where food is abundant, it is difficult for a person to freely deprive himself of food, and in a poor world where a person cannot satisfy his hunger, due to the lack of food, it is easy for him to practice an enforced fast.
There are psychoanalysts who say that a person symbolically eats the other with food. Adam and Eve, in the Book of Genesis, when they ate the forbidden fruit, not only wanted to taste to satisfy their insects but also wanted all the symbols and meanings that this fruit represented, that is, God and His will.
Fasting in Christianity is not only a refusal to introduce a quantity of food into our stomachs, but it is also the abandonment of everything that prevents the other who enters into our lives with his knowledge, culture, and otherness from being as he is. It removes the act of accusing and dissolving the other in order to develop a relationship with him and dialogue with him.
Fasting returns man to his place. He refrains from monopolizing everything that moves to the creation and puts himself at its service, so he is no longer the center of existence, but rather seeks to exist by himself, i.e. God. When a person eats, we see him thank God for his blessings. From this perspective, it appears that God, who is breastfeeding and nourishing, is the one who pours out his gifts to us so that we may live. It is the food itself and life is the same.
Fasting and the Body
The practice of fasting in Christianity is directly related to the body. Fasting is not a rejection of the body’s needs, but rather a contribution to finding its true original desires that are masked by the thickness of sin and the power of evil so that our body becomes transparent before the divine light that penetrates it. A human being longs for the resurrection of the bodies, waiting for the coming of the bride.
We cannot mistreat ourselves as a body that will return to the dust, but we must turn, by the action of the Holy Spirit, to discover ourselves as a body that will return to God through the resurrection of Christ. Through creation, a man appeared in the image of God, and through the incarnation the Son of God became man. Through fasting, the body of the believer becomes the image of the glorified body of Christ. Fasting is also repentance: it is a time of forgiveness and atonement for sins and striving in order to purify the soul and revive the love wounded by sins.
It is the forgiveness of all wrongs, insults, and slips: “If you forgive people their slips, your heavenly Father will forgive you your slips.” Fasting has no meaning if we grudge and do not forgive. This is what we say in the Lord’s Prayer: “…forgive us our sins as we forgive those who offended us.” It is a time of repentance and drawing close to God through humble prayer, all of it repentance and contrition, all of confidence and hope.
Fasting is the first example that Jesus Christ gave us at the beginning of his apostolic life; Before he preaches or teaches, he isolates himself from the world. Fasting is abstaining from eating, either in obedience to a command from the Lord, to obtain a special blessing, or to fulfill a commandment in love, which is more urgent than eating. This is what we observe in the conduct of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Three works that prepared his message
– His baptism by John, his consecration, and his testimony, John’s message was to lead people to Jesus.
Fasting is a renunciation of lusts and abstinence from all that is lustful, fleshy, and natural.
Prayer: He is a spiritual person thanks to fasting and prayer. Immediately after the baptism, the Holy Spirit drove him to the desert to spend forty days in fasting and prayer.
Through fasting and prayer, souls are purified and bodies are chaste. Through fasting and prayer, the great light, the light of Christ, overflows upon those who fast and pray. Through fasting, the spirit rises, passions are conquered, and mercy flows from on high. Through fasting and prayer, spirits are expelled, and the Holy Spirit dwells in the soul that was created to be the dwelling place of God (see Prayer of the Believer, p. 23).
Fast before your Lord in righteousness and holiness, and do not hold back the needy. Increase your treasures with treasures that do not wear out, and do not divert yourself to greedy food during this fasting. Rather, I do charity and alms for the sake of the kingdom of God.
Through fasting and prayer, you derive God’s mercy and grace. Fasting and prayer sanctified the ancients, and they returned to their Lord and brought back the sinners to righteousness. By fasting, the fathers killed their human desires.
Let our mouths be only to praise you, and our ears to hear your words and life-giving teachings, and let our bodies be pure temples nourished by the holy body and blood of Christ, and our souls are a mirror that reflects your splendor and beauty.
Through fasting and prayer, Moses prepared himself to confront the Highest and accept the commandments. And Elijah was able to show his zeal as a testimony to the true God. And Daniel was able to block the mouths of the lions. By fasting and praying, the people of Nineveh repented and returned from their misguidance.
Through fasting and prayer, hermits are sanctified, ascetics are justified, virgins are chaste, and nuns are sanctified. Through fasting and prayer, true Christians lived and maintained their faith. Through fasting and prayer, the faithful sons of allegiance live from the ends of the earth to its ends.
O Lord, make our fasting pure and holy so that we deserve to see your face as Moses, to be jealous of your name like Elijah, and to block the mouths of evil, overcoming worldly lusts like Daniel. Let us purify the mind so that we can contemplate the pious who were conquered by an evil fast that defiles everyone. Let the holy books be a mirror in which we see our fasting. The books have distinguished between fasting and fasting and between prayer and prayer. The obligation of fasting and prayer leads us to salvation if our fasting is far from envy and disputes, pure and holy, and immersed in pure Christian love.
Through fasting and prayer, creation returns to its Creator and Component. And the man knows himself and quenches his desires. Through fasting and prayer, God expels unclean spirits from among people, so that quarrels are removed and peace prevails between individuals, families, and people. Fasting is the weapon of the Mujahideen and the shield of the believers. Prayer is the strength and nourishment of Christians.
Fasting is Rejection and Acceptance
Fasting in Christianity is a recognition of the greatness and power of God and the rejection of the greatness and arrogance of human beings.
It is the acceptance and attachment to the essence and the refusal to blindly follow the requirements of the age and the body.
Acceptance of the divine life, rejection of the evil that lurks within man, and spreading goodness and generalizing happiness.
Reject vanity, laziness, and lethargy. This means prudence, so we do not trust the human being as a creator, but rather a creator.
We create an atmosphere of love and justice and work to build a better world. Each of us lives these qualities and cultivates them in his environment, and in his surroundings, he helps us to be liberated from everything that hinders our progress, by imitating Christ, so that we become a loving heart that does not get tired or bored by love, and a hand that shakes hands and works. Thus, we accept and realize all the ideas of Christ.
Honest acceptance is the basis for every dialogue and the basis for every decision because honesty will protect and protect all human contacts and relationships with each other.
Rejection and acceptance dictate a return to the interior (death and resurrection).
Fasting in Christianity is the acceptance of renewal and is a tendency towards God. By accepting Christ, we accept faith, so we speak the truth, hear God’s words, and look to ourselves and not to others, so we fall in love with God, because the tongue does not get tired of speaking, the ear does not get tired of listening, the eye does not get tired of looking, and the heart is not satisfied. By fasting, we are purified mentally, spiritually, and physically.
Blessed are pure of hearts, for they see God.
Fasting for the Church Fathers
The Fathers of the Church, especially the Fathers of the Eastern Church, emphasized the salvific dimension of fasting, so they glorified it in their writings and called the believers to abide by it, in preparation for the meeting with Christ the Redeemer and the Victor over death and sin after the sufferings he endured for our salvation. Fasting is the transition with Christ from the hustle and bustle of the world to the holy mountain retreat. (Mount of Olives, where Jesus prayed).
Saint Ephrem the Syrian
Fasting in Christianity is considered an escape from the earthly banquet to the heavenly one. It is enlightenment, prayer and victory. Ascending to the mountain with earthly color and descending to earth with celestial splendor. It is the joy and forgiveness, the thirst for living water, and the enjoyment of the table of the heavenly kingdom.
Fasting opens the treasury of the Holy Spirit, so that the fasting person may take the true revelation and glorify God for knowing the perfection of the truth that only those who fast who are far from relishing in the evil of earthly foods can reach.
Fasting makes us participate in the heavenly banquet of Christ, rejoice in the mental nourishment that He pours out on us, and adorns our body and soul with splendor so that we become a chosen vessel in which the Holy Spirit dwells. It is the sure path that will lead us to glory after we are stripped of the wreckage of this fleeting world.
Afrahat the Persian sage
(From Persia, Christianizing and intimidating the study of the Holy Books): He says: “Fasting in Christianity is the purest thing in the eyes of the Lord. It is a treasure in the sky, a sharpening weapon against evil, and a shield against the arrows of the enemy.” He lists the types of fasting: “…
Fasting is not based on abstaining from bread and water, but rather it has abundant ingredients: some of them fast from bread and water until they are hungry and thirsty, and some of them fast in order to preserve celibacy. If he is hungry, he does not eat, and if he is thirsty, he does not drink.
This fast is of the utmost quality. And some of them fast in holiness, and this is a sound fast, some of them fast from meat, wine, and all kinds of food, and some of them fast when they put a barrier to their mouth so that they do not utter bad words. Some of them fast from anger, restraining themselves so that you do not become overpowered against it, and some of the fast from all kinds of requirements in order to remain vigilant in prayer, and there are those who fast from the desires of the world lest the evil one defeats him…etc.
However, despite his praise of the different types of fasting, he emphasizes one thing essential for fasting to be acceptable, which is the purity of the heart, and the prevention of the hands from committing sin. If you fast for bread and water, you should not mix blasphemy and curses with fasting, one is the door of your house, and your house is the temple of God. (The body and blood of the Lord).
Saint John Chrysostom
He stresses that abstaining from food for a limited time is not enough, as a fasting person who is fasting from food is like a wanderer in the sea, under the illusion that he is heading to the city but is heading to another place, because he does not fast from vices and clings to virtues with his fast on food. True fasting is to prevent oneself from physical pleasures, to help others, to remove injustice from people, to give bread to the hungry, to do justice to orphans and widows, to avoid deception and fraud, and to submit to God’s will completely.
In Sermon 31, he summarizes all the virtues that result from fasting, prayer, and chastity, with the virtue of love, which is one of the characteristics of Christ’s disciples. Without love, there is no value for our fasting, our prayers, and our charity. It is the virtue that distinguishes a true Christian in all that he does. In short, fasting, and all the Christian virtues, in his view, are of no value unless they are crowned with love. Love is what proves to the world that we are the true disciples of Christ, and our fasting is nothing but an act of love because through it we want to be true disciples of Christ.
Isaac the Syriac
He emphasized fasting in sacred Christianity, which he considered being sweeter than the perfume of musk, cleverer than the scent of flowers, and more precious than every treasure in this world. Fasting is a person’s healing from every disease, and it is the resurrection from death, leaning on God’s table, and the holiness with which God beautifies everyone who practices it. It is the strength of the soul, the refinement of the senses, the way to the true knowledge of God, and the distance from sin. Fasting is the beginning of God’s holy path.
Fasting is an introduction to all the virtues, the beginning of the battle, the beauty of celibacy, the preservation of chastity, the father of prayer, the source of calm, and the teacher of silence. As soon as a person begins to fast, the mind yearns for the fraternity of God. Fasting, in his view, is to imitate the fast of the Lord the Savior after his baptism, in preparation for suffering and death for the sake of the person who was banished from Paradise because of his disobedience to the will of God. It is the yearning for true martyrdom that makes us ransom ourselves and ransom others as Christ on the cross.
Saint John the Peaceful says,
In his book “The Ladder to Heaven,” fasting in Christianity is to curb the desires of the body, to keep away from evil thoughts, and to be freed from sinful fantasies. It is the purity of prayer, a light for the soul, and alertness of the mind and heart together. It is waiting for the Lord, it is the opening of the heart and its liberation from everything that might hinder the gift of the Passover of Christ in us.
Saint Basil Says
Fasting in Christianity calms the soul, purifies the mind, drives away demons, drives them away, and brings man closer to God. Beware that you only fast from meat and think that this is all that is asked of you. True fasting is abstinence from all vice: “Depart from all iniquity” (Isaiah 58:4).
He is the forgiveness of all offenses to a neighbor; It is leaving debts to the needy. You may not eat meat, but you eat your brother, you refrain from drinking wine, but you do not curb the lusts that inflame your soul, you wait until evening to eat after fasting, but you do not stay all day in the courts for contention. Anger is real drunkenness in the soul because it clouds it.
And he continues: “By fasting, I do not mean abandoning necessary food, because this leads to death, but I mean abandoning food that brings us pleasure and causes the body to rebel. True fasting is a prison for vices, and I mean controlling the tongue, holding back anger, and conquering unclean lusts. The saints also followed this path, and we mention among them Saint Jean-Marie Vianney (Cure of Ars), the patron saint of priests, who relied on fasting and prayer to expel Satan: “I will subdue you, you wretched devil, by His grace the Highest.”
Fasting in Christianity, pain, death, and resurrection are times of salvation that we live in these days with the Lord Jesus, and by returning to the Fathers of the Church, we return to the Christian heritage that remains for us, to confirm our faith, the true faith, and that the heavenly kingdom that God has prepared for us is waiting for us who believed in his only Son who redeemed us.
And we won over death. From here we see them affirming the salvific joy in the resurrection of the Lord despite the difficulties of fasting and the sufferings of redemption. Calvary was only a stage of Christ’s life, and it was the resurrection that crowned everything according to the divine plan.
Their testimony is our spiritual nourishment for our daily life with God, and their teachings are our constant inspiration through the Mother and Teacher Church. The Eastern Church Fathers linked fasting with the resurrection, likening fasting to a sea voyage, at the end of which we reach the port, which symbolizes redemption and salvation.
Meditation text: The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)
Questions: – Where are the limits of repentance?
Commentary on the Prodigious Son text (Luke 15:11-32)
In this parable, Christ wanted to depict to us in-depth, not the miserable state that the Son reached, but the love of the Father, the love of God the Father, and the attitudes of man toward this love. The youngest son wanted to leave his father’s house. And he said in a dry and harsh tone: “Give me my share of your house.” but no. Give me – take.
Does that mean that he does not love his son? On the contrary, the strongest evidence of love is respect for freedom and independence. If he refused his son’s request, he would have left and would not return, even if he tasted misery. The reason for his return was not his deprivation of the carob to the pigs, but rather his father’s attitude towards him on the day he respected his freedom and let him go. This image of his father remained stable in his depths throughout his exile and misery, and this is what made him return to his father to say to him: “No, I am hungry, feed me. I am naked, clothe me.” Rather, “I am a sinner, forgive me.”
So God is with us. He respects our freedom and lets us go looking for illusory happiness away from him, so this image of his remains in the heart of our souls, and this image makes us return to him lost and seeking forgiveness. This image in the human heart gives him value and dignity and removes all barriers.
“And there he squandered his money as a squanderer.” They welcomed him, and brought him to the palms and arms, as long as he was rich and when he had spent everything and was poor, they all left him and threw him like a banana peel. Thus, today the world may become merciless towards those who have no tangible benefit in society: the disabled, the sick, the infirm, and the unemployed… They forget that what gives a person value and dignity, no matter how bad his conditions are, is the love of God and his latent image in us.
When he searched for his freedom and happiness against God and away from Him, he became lost. He returned to himself. “His father saw him, and he dispersed for him and ran to him.” For an old man to run was reprehensible and rejected by the Jews, and Christ wanted with this sign to express the great father’s joy at the return of his son. “So he threw himself on his neck and kissed him for a long time.”
The kiss was a sign of forgiveness so the father did not let his son complete the expressions of apology that he had prepared, so the word “Make me like one of your servants” remained in his throat. The father did not respond with a single word to his son’s apology but hastened to issue orders to celebrate his return warmly.
To order the slaughter of the fatted calf is another indication of his great joy. These gestures of honor clearly indicate the joy and forgiveness of the father. Such is God, that compassionate, merciful Father who rejoices thanks to his mercy and forgiveness. The eldest son did not leave his father, but rather remained close to him. Perhaps, unlike his brother, he thought that he was a righteous son in every sense of the word. His father’s love for his disobedient son confuses him and spoils his thinking, so he considers his father’s sympathy for that stray and returning as a detraction of his own rights, and he forgot the blessing in which he lives.
He speaks the language of service, servitude, justice, and obedience, the language of the Pharisees, and his father speaks the language of love and mercy, the language of Christ, and the language of God. The point of focus in this parable is that the heavenly Father is the one who awaits us, preparing a place for us in his house, not the place we deserve by our merit, but the place that Christ deserved for us through his obedience, life, death, and resurrection. The virtuous son left his father and went to live according to his taste, and during the famine, he descended to the lowest levels of decadence and misery, materially and spiritually.
This is our situation if we through sin separated from our Heavenly Father, the source and purpose of our existence. Sin is lack and sin is slavery. As for repentance, it is enrichment, after poverty, he became rich after slavery, he knew freedom, so his return was better for him and better for his father, as indicated by the great celebration. If sin is a torment, then repentance is joy and consolation: joy and consolation in the heart of God because He is the God of the living, not the God of the dead, and He does not want the death of the sinner.
The prodigal son, even if he committed his foolishness in an hour of psychological pressure, a conqueror, admitted his responsibility to harm his father’s dignity and love when he said: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and to you, and I do not deserve to be called your son.” And you and I, my brother, what can we say?
Written by Father Mokab (Google Translate)
⚠️ Warning, the article has been translated by Google, so you must refer to the evidence of the Bible verses from their original source!!! Thank you.
More Spiritual Reflections
- Purity of Heart and Mind – Spiritual Journey Towards God
- God Teach Me How to Follow You and Help Me Walk Your Path
- What People Learn from Corona & what Secrets are Hidden?
- What Resists Faith from the Challenges of this Material Age