Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

A Sanctified Fast

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  • Fasting is indispensible; for it gives victory over Satan just as our Lord Jesus Christ has said, "This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting" (Mark 9:29).

  • Fasting helps strengthen one's will. For when we train ourselves to say "NO" to the desire to eat, we can then say "NO" to any sin desire. Hence the training to self control.

  • Fasting also helps control the flesh and its desires and instincts. As St. Paul says, "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish" (Galatians 5:17). Such a control prepares the spirit to win over the body and to take the lead during the on-going struggle between the body and the spirit. St. Paul depicts this struggle very vividly in his words, "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified" (1 Corinthians 9:27).

  • Fasting instills compassion towards the poor and the needy. Consequently we feel for their needs and so our hearts move with sympathy and with the urge to perform good and merciful deeds towards the poor.

  • Fasting keeps away hard heartedness. Eating meat, according to the latest researches, results in the hardening of the heart. That is why the practice of Christian ascetic life is a main factor in acquiring the virtue of meekness and gentleness.

  • Fasting is offering the body as a Love Offering to God on the altar of Love. Thus the body partakes with the spirit in worshipping our living God and the Lord receives this offering as a sweet aroma and He breathes the smell of satisfaction with His people, His children.

  • Fasting is obedience to God's commandment. When God said to Adam to eat from all the trees except that of the knowledge of good and evil, He had thus instituted the first command and it was of fasting and abstinence.

  • Fasting is a means whereby the soul practices contrition, penitence and humbleness. Through abstaining from worldly pleasures and fleshly desires, we train to deny ourselves and so we become worthy of inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven.

  • Fasting is a period of self examination, repentance and returning to God just as the people of Nineveh did and were accepted by God Who forgave them and removed His wrath from them.

Brethren, let us fast with a pure heart and return to the Lord with prayers and tears pleading, "I have sinned. I have sinned, my Master. Please, forgive me; for no slave is without sin nor any master without forgiveness."

Bishop Youssef
Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

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