Spiritual Message from Fr Mark:
Upon reading the lives of our saintly desert fathers, you will quickly notice
two very common trends:
i) They all lived their lives in the quest for spiritual perfection
ii) They practiced extreme forms of physical asceticism
I believe these two simple observations, shed light on the perspective and purpose of fasting. One is the aim, and the other is the means. Although, this may seem to be obvious, we often lose perspective forgetting the aim (spiritual perfection) while aiming at the means (fasting).
St. John Chrysostom explains it as follows:
“Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works. If you see a poor man, take pity on him. If you see a friend being honoured, do not envy him. Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eye and the ear and the feet and the hands and all the members of our bodies.
Let the hands fast, by being free of avarice.
Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin.
Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful. Let the ear fast, by not listening to evil talk and gossip.
Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism. For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and devour our
So if we would like to offer an acceptable fast to the Lord, let us not only offer the fasting of food, but moreover the fasting of the soul, as John Cassian teaches us saying: “We should not be confident that the outside fasting of food is enough alone for the purity of the heart and body, unless it is accompanied by the fasting
of the soul.”