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The Spirituality of Fasting, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III
29- Virtues Accompany Fasting
Those who fast and gain no benefit have done so in the wrong way. Fasting is not to blame but the method followed.
Such as those who fast bodily without paying attention to the virtues that accompany a fast. Or, those who’s aim is fasting in itself as a the target although it should be a means towards an end, the means of giving the soul the opportunity.
Fasting is a period of intense spirituality, a period for loving God, and adhering to Him. This love for he who fasts helps elevate a person above body and its concerns. It a means of soaring above the worldly things to taste the heavenly matters. It is a period of sacred feelings towards God. At least it cultivates the feeling of closeness and communion with God. It is a period of spiritual struggle: with self, with God, and against the Devil.
The days of fasting are for spiritual strength and a period of storage.
From the depth of spiritual fast, one gains spiritual strength that sustains him during his period of no fasting. He who is honest for instance during Lent, stores up spiritual stock that strengthens him throughout the fifty sacred days following Lent, where neither fasting nor prostration are allowed
He who wants to fast in a spiritual manner, should keep the following points in mind:
1. Fasting should be spiritual in aim and motive
It is not an obligation, for praise, or out of custom. We fast for the love of God above materialistic and bodily things, to give the soul a chance to grow.
2. Fasting should be a period of penitence and purity of heart:
In it, a person leads a holy life, acceptable in the sight of God, confessing his sins, reproaches himself and then partakes of the Holy Sacraments.
3. Fasting should be a period of spiritual nourishment accompanied by an effective spiritual agenda:
To use all the spiritual media available and to concentrate on spiritual rather than bodily matters, and we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other pages. Not to focus on the type of vegetable food to be eating but on the sanctity of these days of fasting and what is proper for them so that one's spirit may be strengthened
Fasting leads to the strength of the spirit, and the strength of the spirit leads to fasting.
Virtues which are intermingled, are gained through fasting
Fasting helps one stay up late because of the lightness of one's body. Staying up late leads to reading and prayer. Spiritual reading also helps one to pray. Spiritual work as a whole makes a spiritual person sit up late. Reading is a source of contemplation. Contemplation strengthens prayer which is also a source of contemplation.
Fasting is associated with prostration, which leads to humility and a contrite heart. A subdued body through fasting also leads to a subduing of the soul.
Fasting leads to virtues, which relate to the purpose of fasting.
The Apostles for example, prepares one for service. Nineveh’s fast, aims at repentance. The purpose of a fast, such as Esther's, was to save her people. There are those who fast for others and their fast embodies love, sacrifice, and cooperation. These are all fasts, which relates to with special virtues.
We should remember in our fast that the Lord Jesus Christ fasted while He was filled with the Spirit. As for us let at least fast so that we may become filled with the Spirit.
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