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Gluttony makes a man gloomy and fearful, but fasting makes him joyful and courageous.
And, as gluttony calls forth greater and greater gluttony, so fasting stimulates greater and greater endurance.
When a man realizes the grace that comes through fasting, he desires to fast more and more.
And the graces that come through fasting are countless….
~Saint Nikolai of Zicha~
Much of the information on this program has been obtained online and has been provided Blooming in the Desert for the listener to read while listening to this week’s podcast. We will attempt to pinpoint quotes to their proper sources.
I. What is Fasting?
A) We begin with Christ: In Him all the powers of the human being were(and are) in perfect balance. He was and is truly the most human Person in the fullest sense of the word . There was not one aspect of His Person that was out of proportion to any other. He was and is completely “natural”, putting on no airs whatsoever. He simply was and is “I AM”.
We are to acquire by grace what He is by nature. All that the Church gives us in Her Life, which Life is the Life of Christ, is meant for our union to Him and in and through this union we are healed and by the healing “saved”. Now here we must mention that salvation as understood in the Orthodox Catholic Church has a meaning that does not, for the most part, have a counterpart in the Western understanding of the “concept” of salvation. Again, another quick aside to mention that even to speak of salvation as a “concept” is false in that salvation for each and every human being that exists, has existed and will exist is Christ Himself, not a concept or idea. And going further, He is the Center, the Source and the Reason for all the spiritual disciplines we are to undertake. Fasting, when divorced from the sake of more fully putting on Christ, becomes not what it is intended for. When fasting is undertaken for the sake of fasting itself, we begin to enter into dangerous territory.
B) St. Paul speaks of always being after himself and subduing his body to his spirit for the sake of this union with Christ in perfection. In his First Letter to the Corinthians, beginning in verse 24 he writes:
- 24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain [it].
- 25 And everyone who competes [for the prize] is temperate in all things. Now they [do it] to obtain a perishable crown, but we [for] an imperishable [crown].
- 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as [one who] beats the air.
- 27 But I discipline my body and bring [it] into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
C) Thus for St. Paul the bringing of his body into subjection was his struggle to not allow his body, with its weaknesses, to overrule his spirit and to take him away from Christ.
Go here to finish reading the rest of this outline and to find the link to the actual podcast. A lot of material on this one and we thought it turned out really well.