Sunday, November 25, 2012

On the merits of prayer and fasting

A good reminder before the St. Philip's Fast begins on Wednesday and for those already in the midst of the Nativity Fast.

Brother: What are fasting and prayer?

Old Man: Fasting is the subjugation of the body, prayer is converse with God, vigil is a war against Satan, abstinence is being weaned from meats, humility is the state of the first man, kneeling is the inclining of the body before the Judge, tears are the remembrance of sins, nakedness is our captivity which is caused by the transgression of the command, and service is constant supplication to and praise of God.

Brother: Are these able to redeem the soul?

Old Man: When internal things agree with external, and manifest humility appears in the hidden works which are from within, verily, a man shall be redeemed from the weight of the body.

Brother: And what is internal humility?

Old Man: The humility of love, peace, friendship, purity, restfulness, tranquility, subjection, faith, remoteness from envy, and a soul which is free from the heat of anger, and is far from the grade of arrogance, and is redeemed from the love of vainglory, and is full of patient endurance like the great deep, and whose motion is drawn after the knowledge of the spirit, and before whose eyes are depicted the fall of the body, and the greatness of the marvel of the Resurrection, and the demand for judgement which shall come after the revivification, and its standing before the awful throne of God. If the soul has these things, redemption shall be unto it.

Brother: Is there any man who fasteth that shall not be redeemed?

Old Man: There is one kind of fasting which is from habit, and another from desire, and another from compulsion, and another from sight, and another from the love of vainglory, and another from affliction, and another from repentance, and another from spiritual affection; for although each of these seems to be the same as the other in the mind externally, yet in the word of knowledge they are distinct. Now the way in which each is performed by the body is the same, and the way in which each is to be undertaken is wholly the same by him who travelleth straightly on the path of love, and who beareth his burden with patient endurance spiritually, and who doth not rejoice in his honor.

- The Paradise of the Holy Fathers
by E. A. Wallis Budge

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