Friday, November 13, 2009

The Pre-Christmas Fast--some insights from Fr. Stephen

Beginning this Sunday, November 15, the eastern Church starts their pre-Christmas fast, lasting until Christmas Eve.  Father Stephen at Glory to God for All Things has a very insightful post on fasting, and its purpose.  You hear, in Christian circles that fasting is not a diet.  Yet, in our culture it is almost impossible not to think of it that way.  It is a bit like someone saying "don't think of a pink elephant".  Dieting is everywhere in our culture, as is eating.

Father Stephen has a different take on the "purpose" of Christian fasting.  First of all, he says, the cornerstone of fasting is inner silence and communion with God through ceaseless prayer.  It is about longing for God and hungering after Him in all humility.  If that is learned by a 'failed' fast, then that is a blessing.

Father Stephen had another correlation having to do with the spiritual purpose of fasting that I have never thought of.  A person who is near death often refuses all food.  This is a natural part of the process of letting go of this world and moving on to the next.  Studies show that the dying who are allowed to forgo food experience less pain.

Fasting, in the Christian sense, then, is about dying to self and dying to the world.  It is about moving on to the world for which we were created.  It is about living as though we were dying because in dying, we are born to eternal life.


Marilena said...

my friend, your comment to me touched me so much, that i added it to my post called "acceptance in grief". would you please come over to the Garden and read it? God bless you my friend, you are very, very kind.

Anne said...

Thank you for this Dymphna! I needed to read this!

Dymphna said...

You're welcome, Marilena! I hope and pray that God comforts you in your grief.

I needed to read that too today, Anne! God has amazing timing with these things.

Cindy said...

Wow, that is a wonderful post. I never thought of fasting in this way.

Dymphna said...

I hadn't either, Cindy! Its a totally different perspective.

Mary333 said...

Thank you. This post has wonderful insights on fasting that have never occured to me. I know a lot about failed fasts, though ;)

Dymphna said...

I hear you about failed fasts!

Dymphna's favorite quotes

"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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