Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Elder Arsenios Papacioc - True Fasting

As Lent approaches and even into Lent I will speak with people who fall into two erroneous extremes in regard to fasting. The first extreme considers fasting to be "More than just about not eating things!" This is certainly true, but it is often accompanied with an opinion that minimizes the importance of fasting to such an extreme that other magnanimous actions (e.g. this) are thought a reasonable replacement for the Fast. The other extreme places strict fasting throughout Great Lent to be the single saving act apart from all the other things we are asked to do - little or nothing is thought of almsgiving, intercessory prayer, etc. Of course both of these are caricatures of real parishioners, but we can think back to recent parish coffee hour discussions and nod in remembrance of similar things being said by very earnest people.

Fasting is not irrelevant because what is important is being a "good person" nor is it of singular importance requiring nothing further from the believer. Fasting is an irreplaceable tool to true metanoia. Just as you can't drive to an island without a bridge you can't achieve true repentance without fasting. And if your fasting is not matched with loving acts, forgiveness, and prayer you will find yourself on a bridge that dumps you into the sea as all your fasting has taken you nowhere.

Elder Arsenios speaks to this: "It carries the soul. And so we impose some refraining on the soul. If the fast slows it down a little, calms its hot temper, it helps us a lot to think about the real fast, which is spiritual."

H/T: Mere Comments for the below video.

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