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The Spirituality of Fasting, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III
45- Penitence and Self-abasement Drills
Fasting days are ones of penitence and self-abasement before God. Therefore, train yourself in them until you humble yourself down to the level of dust and ashes. This can be accomplished through the following exercises:
(a) Shun the love of praise, boastful talk, and self praise.
(b) Use penitent words in your prayers. For instance, repeat the words of the Psalm: “O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger, Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure.” (Ps 6:1).
(c) If you feel hungry or sit down to eat, say to yourself: “I do not deserve this food because of my sins, because I have done so and so. I do not fast out of holiness but out of my internal humility.” He who attains penitence feels no desire for food no matter how appetising it is when laid before him. If hunger presses on him, he says to himself: “Repent first, then eat.” If he still finds himself fallen into sin, he scolds himself, saying: “Is this a fast acceptable to God? Does this sanctify my fast?”
(d) Days of fasting are a good opportunity for confession and self-reproach inside oneself before God and before your Father confessor.
It is a period to be honest with oneself, holding yourself accountable and for rebuke and discipline. Remember not to justify yourself by finding excuses however trivial these may be.
(e) Train yourself in labour of humility which are numerous and about which we shall write a book for you, God willing.
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