Prologue in the teachings for each day of the year
On the need and benefit of fasting
(The Word of St. John Chrysostom on the Alchba.) 23 Dec.)
The Holy Church, following the example of the Lord and His Apostles, established fasts for us on certain days. So, according to its charter, we keep the posts: Great, Christmas, Uspensky and Petrovsky; We fast on Wednesdays and Fridays, on the day of the Exaltation of the Honorable and Life-giving Cross of the Lord and on the day of the beheading of the Head of the Honorable and glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord John. Here, speaking of the posts and listing them, we will stop for a moment and ask ourselves: the posts are installed, but the point is, do they need and do we have any benefit from them?
What is the answer to this?
St. Chrysostom argues:
"Many people say: why fast for the purely living? But they are wrong. Who was holier than Adam before the fall? But he was shown a post. From every tree in the garden, it was commanded him, you will eat; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, do not eat from it (Gen. 2, 16-17). Here is the first post that was in paradise. But if it was necessary for a man in paradise, then he became even more necessary for him because of the fall. If it was necessary for us even when we have not yet sinned; then all the more it became necessary because of the fall. And God is angry with those who blaspheme fasting, and loves those who observe this. Adam did not keep fasting and heard a menacing voice: "You are the earth, and go to the land." From this understand that God is angry with those who blaspheme fast, and condemn those who violate him to death. You understand the power of fasting. He saves from execution going on the same; and not one or two, but a great many. Remember the Ninevites: they would all perish if they did not turn to repentance and fasting. An honest post has plucked them from the very abyss of perdition. And we have a lesson from them. They did not know the law and fasted. Do we, who have the law and instructions for fasting, violate this? And Moses, and Elijah, going to talk with God, first of all imposed a fast. And the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, without needing fasting, however, fasted for forty days to give us an example and show that by fasting we can conquer all the power of the devil. "
Clearly, it means, brethren, that fasting is useful and necessary for us. And this is true. "Fasting, let us conclude with the words of one preacher, is the most favorable means for the salvation of the soul and for the health of the body. How a person can not walk without legs, a bird can fly without wings; so the soul can not be saved without fasting. Fasting kills passions, tames the rebellion of the flesh, repays the decline of lust, curbs the language and keeps it from idle talk, drives away sinful thoughts, lifts the mind to God, disposes the soul to prayer, softens the hardening of the heart, gives rise to a tender moaning about sins, opens the way to repentance and reconciliation with God. What a grace! How much good does the post bring to us (Pitchar Piskareva ch. 2, p. 65-66).
Fast, brethren, and you will abandon sensual life, you will often think about heaven, it will be more convenient to educate in the soul of piety, will improve in faith, hope and love for God and decorate yourself with virtues. Amen.