Father Stephen Freeman, of Tennessee, writes about the importance of fasting as Orthodox Christians enter the Nativity Fast. His thoughts are useful for anyone, however, who wants to understand the value of fasting to the Christian. An excerpt:

“If we fast but do not forgive our enemies – our fasting is of no use. If we fast and do not find it drawing us into humility – our fasting is of no use. If our fasting does not make us yet more keenly aware of the fact that we are sinful before all and responsible to all then it is of no benefit. If our fasting does not unite us with the life of God – which is meek and lowly – then it is again of no benefit.

Fasting is not dieting. Fasting is not about keeping a Christian version of kosher. Fasting is about hunger and humility (which is increased as we allow ourselves to become weak). Fasting is about allowing our heart to break.”

I confess I’m terrible when it comes to fasting. I let it puff up my pride, I give up at the first real craving. It’s funny how you don’t see the way something can rule your life until you try to forsake it. This year I’m off to a good start, however, since I’ve had a stomach bug for the past 24 hours. Give thanks in everything, the Good Book says.

HT (for the Fr. Stephen article, not the stomach bug): Johnny d.


  1. M

    Interesting thoughts, Tony. Thanks. For the past few years, I have dabbled in a new thinking about fasting and abstinence (for which I’ve previously not held much need). This will add to my thinking and prayer.

    Hope you heal soon from the stomach bug. Take good care of yourself, and be careful with your family and colleagues — just read a news report that norovirus now accounts for the majority of “stomach flu” and is contagious several days after the person feels better. Disinfect those dishes and wash those hands, folks.


  2. Tari

    I’m a horrible faster – I’ll get through lunch on a fast day and think “uh-oh”, and then I decide that since the day is shot, I’ll have whatever I want for dinner. It’s interesting to think that being raised to eat whatever we please is not, after all, a blessing.

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