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Overcoming Passions with Fasting


Wednes­day. [I Cor 7:12–24; Matt. 14:35–15:11] Not that which go­eth in­to the mouth de­fil­eth a man; but that which com­eth out of the mouth, this de­fil­eth a man. The Lord said this not be­cause He did not fa­vour fast­ing, or be­cause He con­sid­ered it not nec­es­sary for us — no, both He Him­self fast­ed, and taught the a­pos­tles to do so, and He es­tab­lish­ed fasts in his ho­ly Church; but He said this so that we would not on­ly fast by eat­ing lit­tle or on­ly uncooked food, but rath­er so that we would keep the fast in our soul, not in­dulg­ing it with de­sires and pas­sion­ate in­cli­na­tions. And this is the im­por­tant thing. Fast­ing serves as a pow­er­ful means for this. The foun­da­tion of the pas­sions in the flesh; when the flesh is ema­ci­ated, then it is as if a hole is dug un­der the pas­sions and their for­tress is de­stroy­ed. With­out fast­ing, over­com­ing the pas­sions would be a mir­a­cle, sim­i­lar to be­ing in a fire and not be­ing burned. How can he who pro­fuse­ly sat­is­fies his flesh with food, sleep and rest, keep any­thing spir­i­tu­al in mind and in his in­ten­tions? For him it is as easy to re­nounce the earth, to con­tem­plate and strive for the in­vis­i­ble world, as would be for an old, de­crep­it bird to take flight and soar.