Bodily Fasting


We are told: It is no big deal to eat non-Lenten food during Lent. It is no big deal if you wear expensive beautiful outfits, go to the theater, to parties, to masquerade balls, use beautiful expensive china, furniture, expensive carriages, and dashing steeds, amass and hoard things, etc. Yet what is it that turns our heart away from God, away from the Fountain of Life? Because of what do we lose eternal life? Is it not because of gluttony, of expensive clothing like that of the rich man of the Gospel story; is it not because of theaters and masquerades? What turns us hard-hearted toward the poor and even toward our relatives? Is it not our passion for sweets, for satisfying the belly in general, for clothing, for expensive dishes, furniture, carriages, for money and other things? Is it possible to serve God and mammon, to be a friend to the world and a friend to God, to serve Christ and Belial? That is impossible.

Why did Adam and Eve lose paradise, why did they fall into sin and death? Was it not because of one evil? Let us attentively consider why we do not care about the salvation of our soul, which cost the Son of God so dearly. Why do we compound sin upon sin, fall endlessly into opposing God, into a life of vanity? Is it not because of a passion for earthly things and especially for earthly pleasures? What makes our hearts become crude? Why do we become flesh and not spirit, perverting our moral nature? Is it not because of a passion for food, drink, and other earthly comforts? How, after this, can one say that it does not matter whether you eat non-Lenten food during Lent? The fact that we talk this way is in fact pride, idle thoughts, disobedience, refusal to submit to God, and separation from Him.

St. John of Kronstadt
From Parish Life, March 2021
St. John the Baptist Church, Washington, DC


Editor9/14/2023 10:23 am
Marjorie Zimmerman: No need to change your mind--you have it right!
marjorie zimmerman9/14/2023 1:43 am
a convert for two years after 85 years. i know i can plead old age but that's not the issue. I have trouble understanding the rationale behind abstaining from olive oil (the only one in ancient times) but going for the avocado or corn oil. Isn't there a basic principle involved there? Or turning oneself upside down, taking extra time to prepare special food or to get to WholeFoods in order to buy an expensive vegan product, negating the idea of making time to spend with God. Isn't the alternative to simply cut back on the cost of a lesser meal and giving the difference to the poor and vulnerable. It bothers me that no one in the church appears to make the connection from food to alms. Nobody talks about alms as part of fasting and what 'alms' actually means. i thought they were connected and it makes sense to me to fast if one takes the difference and gives to the needy...i don't get the feeling that Orthodox I know are doing that or, for that matter, that fasting makes them pay more attention to God during fasting days. What I do see is people busying themselves with their daily lives as if paying attention to spiritual things was an afterthought as long as they 'fasted'. if the purpose of abstaining from some foods is to give us time to pay more attention to God, then i don't see it happening. I see people scratching their left ears with their right hands to do the 'fasting' thing and warning others about which kind of fast it is...taking so much time in the process of using the exactly right foods that they seem to forget the purposes. Can you change my mind?
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