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The Spirituality of Fasting, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III
14- Fasting and Martyrdom
It is natural that he, who cannot abstain from food, would find it difficult to offer his life.
Through continuous training and negligence for the bodily needs, a courageous soul is trained to endure hunger and thirst, bring the body into subjection to conquer the desires and lusts of the body. It is able to endure the hardships of imprisonment and the pain of torture. These people were able through God's grace, to offer their bodies up to death at the time of martyrdom.
Thus fasting became the training of the spiritual school of martyrs, not only in the physical sense, but also from the spirituality gained in fasting. Days of fasting are not only for our spiritual deeds, repentance, and coming closer to God, but they also help evoke our love for eternity with Him. Man therefore harbours no fear when faced with death since he is prepared for it. Rather, man is happy that he is to rid himself of his body to meet with God. As St. Paul says: “…having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.“ (Phil 1:23).
Through fasting, the Church trained its children for the ascetic life.
Through asceticism, they are trained to renounce the world and become martyrs.
Martyrs were mostly those who lived a life of fasting, prayer, and asceticism. As the Apostle Paul said: “And those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.” (1 Cor 7:31).
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