SOME REMARKS ON FASTING by Fr. Stephen Freeman:
…. I have seen greater good accomplished in souls through their failure in the fasting season than in the souls of those who “fasted well.” Publicans enter the kingdom of God before Pharisees pretty much every time.
Why do we fast? Perhaps the more germane question is “why do we eat?” Christ quoted Scripture to the evil one and said, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” We eat as though our life depended on it and it does not. We fast because our life depends on the word of God.
I worked for a couple of years as a hospice chaplain. During that time, daily sitting at the side of the beds of dying patients—I learned a little about how we die. It is a medical fact that many people become “anorexic” before death—that is —they cease to want food. Many times family and even doctors become concerned and force food on a patient who will not survive. Interestingly, it was found that patients who became anorexic had less pain than those who having become anorexic were forced to take food. (None of this is about the psychological anorexia that afflicts many of our youth. That is a tragedy)
It is as though at death our bodies have a wisdom we have lacked for most of our lives. It knows that what it needs is not food—but something deeper. The soul seeks and hungers for the living God. The body and its pain become a distraction. And thus in God’s mercy the distraction is reduced…Why do we fast? We fast so that we may live like a dying man, and in dying we can be born to eternal life.
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