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Most important aspect of fasting

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#1 Alice


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Posted 13 November 2013 - 09:35 PM

In the new calendar Orthodox churches we celebrate the feast day of the greatest Christian orator of all times-St. John Chrysostom.


This saying of his is short but oh so powerful. I saw posted by an Orthodox priest elsewhere today:


"You have been given a mouth not to wound but to heal".
St. John Chrysostom


#2 Richard A. Downing

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 08:46 AM

My favourite part of the Paschal Liturgy is the reading of St John's homily.  For the past two years I have been blessed to read it myself.  He is a good Saint to make a friend.

#3 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 10:26 AM

We fast sometimes, but the demons never eat.  We keep vigil sometimes, but the demons never sleep (cf Abba Macarius).  Only humility protects us from the wiles of the demons.  So, fast from pride at all times.

#4 Antonios


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Posted 19 November 2013 - 01:23 AM

Fasting is Great, but Love is Greater

by St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Fasting is a great thing but love is even greater. If by fasting demons are cast out, passions tamed, the body pacified, the spirit composed, then, by love, God takes up abode in man. The Lord Himself emphasized fasting as necessary but stressed love as the main commandment.

In the first half of the last century, Jeladin Bey ruled in Ochrid, a renegade from the Sultan and an independent ruler. At that time, the Church was governed by Metropolitan Kalinikos. Even though of different faiths, Jeladin Bey and Kalinikos were very good friends and often visited one another. It happened that Jeladin Bey condemned twenty-five Christians to be hanged. They were scheduled to be hanged on Great and Holy Friday [Good Friday]. The Metropolitan, totally disturbed because of this incident, went to Jeladin Bey and began to implore him to be more lenient with the punishment. While they were conversing, the time for lunch arrived and the Bey invited the Metropolitan to dine. Lamb was prepared for lunch. The Metropolitan excused himself, saying that because of fasting he could not remain for lunch, and he prepared to leave. Bey was sorry and said to the Metropolitan: "Choose; either you will dine with me and free twenty-five men from the gallows, or you will not dine and allow them to be hanged." The Metropolitan crossed himself and sat down to eat and Jeladin freed the condemned from the punishment of death.

#5 Antonios


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Posted 19 November 2013 - 01:24 AM

To Forgive Is More Admirable Than To Fast

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

There is heroism above heroism and asceticism above asceticism. St. Epiphanius of Cyprus invited Hilarion the Great to dinner and in order to show the greatest hospitality to his distinguished guest, placed fried chicken on the table and offered it to him. Hilarion said to him: "Forgive me, but ever since I was tonsured a monk, I have eaten nothing butchered." To that Epiphanius replied: "And I, ever since I was tonsured a monk, have never lay down in bed until I first forgave my enemy." Amazed, Hilarion said: "Your virtue is greater than mine, O holy master!" This is a great lesson for all of us. Fasting is an admirable thing but it is more admirable to forgive insults. Through fasting, man is preparing for charity but, by forgiving insults, man shows charity. Fasting precedes forgiveness but fasting alone, does not save without forgiveness.

#6 Antonios


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Posted 19 November 2013 - 01:33 AM

According to the teaching of St. John Chrysostom:

"As incontinence in food occurring from innumerable causes and sources
is malevolent for the race of man, and fasting and contempt of carnal
pleasures always were the cause of inexpressible blessings for us. God,
having created man in the beginning, and knowing, that healing is rather
necessary for him for the salvation of his soul, immediately and from
the very beginning gave the following first given commandment: 'You may
eat of every tree in paradise; but of the tree of the knowledge of good
and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall
die' (Gen. 2:16, 17). And the words: this, eat, but this do not eat,
were in the paradigm of a fast. But man instead of observing the
commandment, has broken it, and for that has been condemned to death."

"And the inhabitants of Sodom have drawn upon themselves the relentless
wrath of God, over other crimes with these. For here is what the Prophet
says: 'this lawlessness of Sodom, as in the surfeit of bread had
sensual ease' (Ezek. 16:49). This defect in the very deed really is as
though the source and root of all that is bad. But look now at the
beneficent actions of the fast."

"The fast leads us to abuse from our enemies, delivers from slavery, returns us to freedom."

"He helps in the fiery furnace, protects us from the paws of the lions,
banishes demons, changes the decisions of God, tames the fury of
passions, allows us freedom, leads us to great silence in ideas."

"The fast restrains the body and bridles disorderly desires. On the
contrary, it enlightens the soul, gives wing to, and makes even the
scaling of the mountain with ease. The fast is food for the soul, and as
food for the body fattens the body so the fast strengthens the soul,
communicates easy flight to it, gives it the ability to rise to the
heights and to think about the high place and delivers the pleasures and
pleasantness from above to the present life. As the light judgment
crosses the seas sooner, but the large overburdened cargo is more likely
to capsize; so lent, making our mind much lighter, enables it to cross
the sea of the present life more quickly, to aspire to heaven and be
subject to heaven, and not to respect the present, but to consider more
than the shadows and sleepy dreams."

#7 Antonios


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Posted 19 November 2013 - 03:20 AM

St. John Cassian:

“Fasting: By itself abstinence from food does not contribute to perfect
purity of soul unless the other virtues are active as well. Humility,
for example, practiced through obedience in our work and through bodily
hardship, is a great help. Freedom from anger, from dejection,
self-esteem and pride also contributes to purity of soul in general,
while self-control and fasting are especially important for bringing
about that specific purity of soul which comes through restraint and
moderation. Our initial struggle therefore must be to gain control of
our stomach and to bring our body into subjection not only through
fasting, but also through vigils, labours and spiritual reading, and
through concentrating our heart on, and longing for the kingdom of

#8 Antonios


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Posted 19 November 2013 - 03:21 AM

St. Makarios of Egypt:

“When we cultivate a vineyard, the whole of our attention and labour is
given in the expectation of the vintage; if there is no vintage, all our
work is to no purpose. Similarly, if through the activity of the
Spirit we do not perceive within ourselves the fruits of love, peace,
joy and the other qualities mentioned by St. Paul (cf. Gal 5:22), and
cannot affirm this with all assurance and spiritual awareness, then our
labour for the sake of virginity, prayer, psalmody, fasting and vigil is
useless. For, as we said, our labours and hardships of soul and body
should be undertaken in expectation of the spiritual harvest; and where
virtues are concerned, the harvest consists of spiritual enjoyment and
incorruptible pleasure secretly made active by the Spirit in faithful
and humble hearts. Thus the labours and hardships must be regarded as
labours and hardships and the fruits as fruits. Should someone through
lack of spiritual knowledge think that his work and hardship are fruits
of the Spirit, he should realize that he is deluding himself, and in
this way depriving himself of the truly great fruits of the Spirit.”

#9 Antonios


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Posted 19 November 2013 - 03:23 AM

Why Jesus Fasted After His Baptism

By Elder Daniel Katounakiotis


Without fasting will neither pure prayer be attained nor chaste
virginity achieved, nor will the Christian not subjugating his body
through the suitable means of fasting be able to bear the cross of our
Savior Jesus and follow Him.



He, our Savior Jesus, fasted forty days and nights as an example for us.
And when? After His baptism. This shows us that all baptized Christians
are obliged to fast according to their strength.



#10 Moses Anthony

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 03:09 AM

The most Important Aspect of Fasting:  Isaiah 58

#11 Leah


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Posted 25 November 2013 - 09:53 AM

Fast from discontent,

Feast on gratitude,

Fast from anger

Feast on patience

Fast from complaining

Feast on appreciation

Fast from worry

Feast on God's blessed assurance

Fast from unrelenting pressures

Feast on unceasing prayer

Fast from bitterness

Feast on compassion and forgiveness

Fast from self concern

Feast on compassion for others

Fast from discouragement

Feast on hope

Fast from lethargy

Feast on enthusiasm

Fast from suspicion

Feast on trust

Fast from idle gossip

feast on purposeful silence

Fast from words that pollute

Feast on phrases that purify

Fast from the seeming darkness

Feast on the realities of Light

Fast from hate and resentment

Feast on love and good will

Fast from thoughts that weaken

Feast on promises that inspire

fast from problems that overwhelm

Feast on prayer that under girds all.

Edited by Leah, 25 November 2013 - 09:57 AM.

#12 Phoebe K.

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 02:53 PM

Another list which reminds us of how little we can do in our own strength and how it is only possible to live the life of faith in grace. 


It brings to mind what my priest said yesterday about the commandments of the Old Testament being many and unable to sanctify, and the commandments of the new being impossible to bring us to a dependence on the grace of God not our own strength.



#13 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 06:55 AM

Dynamis dynamis@dynamispublications.org

Saint Matthew 6:14-21 Gospel for the Fourth Sunday before the Great Fast: ‘of Forgiveness’
Jesus taught His disciples, saying,
14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your
16 Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they
disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have
their reward.
17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place;
and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
19 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where
thieves break in and steal;
20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where
thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

March 2, 2014,
The Sunday of Forgiveness (Cheesefare)

Three Essentials of Fasting: Matthew 6: 14-21, especially vss. 17-18: “But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place. . . .” In this passage the Lord outlines three conditions of true fasting: forgiveness (vss. 14-15), accountability (vss. 16-18), and readiness for combat with the enemy (vss. 19-21).

Two matters concerning forgiveness must be settled prior to commencing the Lenten Fast: our need to be forgiven and our need to forgive. The aim of the fast is to assist us in embracing the Lord’s “propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 Jn 2:2) which does cleanse “from all unrighteousness” (vs. 1:9). God calls us to repent and confess (Acts 3:19), for He forgives when we forgive. And “if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt 6:15).

This very evening, at Forgiveness Vespers, we have an opportunity to begin the Fast by cleaning the slate – seeking and offering forgiveness. If we do so, we shall profit from the days of the Great Fast with their self-examination, repentance, and confession.

As for accountability, we must remember that we are called to fast by our Master. He defines the Great Fast and how we carry it out. We must not blur His goals and procedures. The Lenten fast is a secret between us and God. For this reason the Lord commands us to “anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting” (vss. 17-18).

If we exhibit penitence and contrition – if we “appear to men to be fasting” (vs. 16) – we fall into temptation from Satan. Displaying our ascesis realigns our motives in the direction of seeking the approval of our peers. Let us purify ourselves and labor where God alone sees, in the hidden areas of our heart.

“Do the Christian hypocrites . . . think that they . . . live hypocritically?” asks Saint John of Kronstadt. “They do not think so.” His words on prayer also apply to fasting: “They [fast] daily, perhaps at length; but . . . out of habit . . . not with their hearts, without heartfelt contrition, without a firm desire for amendment, and only in order to fulfill the established rule, and [they] ‘think’ they ‘do God service,’ whilst in fact they only incur the wrath of God” (Spiritual Counsels, p. 39).

In this world, the Lord warns, “moth and rust destroy and . . . thieves break in and steal” (vs. 19). Moths lay eggs in woolen fabrics unless we guard against them. As the larvae hatch, they eat into the cloth and destroy the covering that protects us against the elements.

What does this mean for us spiritually? We must prepare to combat Satan and sin! When we allow sin’s larvae into our hearts and minds, they eat away the truth that shields us from lies and delusion. Only by confession and contrition do we attract the grace of God, which alone has the power to kill these deadly and voracious hatchlings of sin within ourselves.

Similarly, what functions like rust in our daily lives? Surely it is the corrosive power of secular life. The world curries our passions with self-serving lies, fads, and distortions. Secularism, unless sealed out with the chrism of the Holy Spirit, will corrode our devotion and our worship. When we fast, let us heed the Lord’s sure and gentle voice, for He alone assists us in countering the corrosive rust of the world.

Finally, the demons are the thieves who seek to break into our hearts by any means to steal our souls for Satan’s perverse kingdom. Beware when these enemies encourage us to “adjust” the terms of the fast or to shrug at Christ’s Mysteries! If we listen to them, we serve ourselves (and many devils) instead of God.

Come and abide in us and cleanse us from every stain and save our souls, O good One. – Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom

#14 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 02:52 PM

Fast from disobedience - it was disobedience that caused the Fall.

#15 Loucas



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Posted 23 October 2014 - 03:44 PM

Seems everyone always has an issue with fasting. And thus, looks for quotes and messages from Church Fathers and Mothers that can be used to support the notion that fasting is of no great importance. However, as we aproach the 40 days before Christmas it is important to remember that Christ did not say "If you fast" but "When you fast". Please keep in mind that there are more than meat and dairy to reject during the fast. But we now are reminded everyday by our diet that we are truly Christian and must attend to our Spiritual Life. So, during the fast we take account of our sins, good time for confession, we try to attend to philonthropic needs, and endevore to read more scripture, lives of the Saints ect. Churches usually have gatherings on evenings or weekends to listen to a Priest discuss a specific subject regarding Spiritual Growth. Our stomachs begin to hunger for Spiritual food more than meat and dairy. Find ways to encourage yourselves and those around you to embrace the fast in stead of make excuses to avoid or replace it. St. John Chrysostom welcomes all who fast and who did not to feast together, this does not mean he does not reguard the fast as scriptural but reminds us of God's Love, this in itself should encourage one to fast more heartfelt next time.

#16 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 23 October 2014 - 04:45 PM

I don't think any here, nor the Holy Fathers quoted, meant to imply that fasting is of no great importance. It's a matter of seeing the wider picture.

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