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“The Genesis narrative shows that the relationship between Man and God is not primarily an intellectual one (the contemplative raising of the human mind to the divine existence), nor is it primarily ethical (humanity’s conforming to certain divine commandments). It is, before anything else, an existential relation, a relation that is realized by humanity’s mode of existence: the taking of food. The reception of nourishment is an act (an event) of relationship between Man and God – just as the suckling of an infant is an act (an event) of relationship between infant and mother…the relationship of Man with God in the first pages of Genesis is not an intellectual or emotional reference to the Creator of food, nor is it a moral confirmation to the ‘obligation’ of such a reference. The relationship is food and drink, a practically realized mode of taking food with thanksgiving, that is, as blessing; it is a consummate experience of life as relation.” (Christos Yannaras) 

“God gives us food as the means to have a relationship with Him. Our existence is dependent on God through the food, air and water that God provides to us. Holy Communion helps us understand what all food is meant to be – the means of Communion with God. Free–will humans have the ability to reduce food to merely physical nourishment which is what the story of Adam and Eve portrays to us. Our dependency on the Creator for our existence is intertwined with our need for food and drink. Food is about existence, which is about our relationship to our Creator. When we no longer see food as an essential part of our relationship with God, we change the food into mere nutrients which have no spiritual value and we lose sight of our receiving our existence from God. God is the Giver of Life – food sustains our lives. It is God’s gift to us as well as our way to experience the Giver of Life daily.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“We fast together to help us to wake up and come to our senses. God wants us to hunger for Him. If we hunger for God and we see the depth of our own fall, then we might turn back towards home and run with haste towards the One who loves us unconditionally. That is precisely what the young man [the Prodigal Son] did. He decided that even the servants in his father’s house were in a far better position than the one in which he found himself.” (Fr. James Guirguis)

“By blessing our food with thanksgiving and prayer, we consecrate it for the nurture of our bodies…the food becomes holy because it is dedicated to strengthening us in the service of God and our fellow human persons. Likewise, when by thanksgiving and prayer, we consecrate the use of material things to benefit others, we sanctify it. That is, we set them apart for the good of others and the service of God. Therefore, we should understand that we are the caretakers of the physical universe. Physical things depend on us to value them and use them properly. Material things change into the way we treat them. If we treat them with exploitation or neglect them, their condition will reflect our abuse of them. But if we treat them as sacred gifts of God, then they will bless us as God intended when He created the world and called it “good.” (Fr. Basil)

“Modern persons are formed in an ethos that is often alien to the gospel…an ethos that destroys the soul. Loneliness, compulsion, and bondage to the passions through the materialist culture of consumerism leave us hungry – but ill-prepared for spiritual food. Salvation…requires spiritual formation. We must learn and be formed by the Tradition of the Spirit in the ethos of Christ’s self-sacrificing way of life. The Church itself rightly exists only when it is the embodiment and expression of that way of life – only when it can nurture human persons within its womb and give birth to gods, to paraphrase the fathers.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“A relationship with Jesus Christ-this is prayer. When people think about what is required to receive Holy Communion, they almost immediately think of fasting. There are so many things “higher on the list,” including prayer-what good is fasting without prayer? That’s just dieting.” (Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis)

“Take fasting. Some people are extremists in this while many others, perhaps most, are not at all so. Saint Isidoros Pilousiotis says that we should be ‘experienced measurers’, that is good at weighing. Neither complete abstinence from food is to be commended, because it leads to lethargy and collapse, nor is eating too much a good thing, because it leads to decadence. The various ascetic practices of virtue we undertake should be commensurate with our powers, if we’re to have normal spiritual progress. It often happens that people who come to know Christ for the first time embrace the spiritual life with great enthusiasm, but when the zeal wears off, they return to their former habits and become worse than they had been. ‘And the final condition of that person is worse than the first’ (Matth. 12, 45).” (Metropolitan Ioïl (Frangkakos) of Edessa, Pella, and Almopia)

“Christians do not afflict themselves in order to learn from suffering. Rather, we are so focused on spiritual things that we have no interest in indulging in worldly things. Our fasting is not self-harm but self-forgetfulness—as when the psalmist says “I forgot to eat my bread” (Ps. 101:5 [102:4]). We forget our need to eat because we are consumed with higher pursuits. Since this perspective runs contrary to our ingrained, self-indulgent habits, we have to reinforce it with the help of structured discipline, exercises in fasting that minimize our devotion to food and other worldly things. But fasting must go hand in hand with intentionally maximizing our devotion to God in prayer, service, and worship. In fact, these positive disciplines are the reason for the abstinence. The suffering we endure by fasting is incidental to our pursuit of higher things.” (Fr. Jeremy Davis)

“The spiritual discipline of fasting is simply a tool for shifting the focus away from ourselves and toward the Lord and our brothers and sisters in whom we encounter Him each day. If we distort fasting into a private religious accomplishment to prove how holy we are, we would do better not to fast at all. Doing that is simply a distraction from fulfilling the true purpose of the coming season. It is the vain effort of trying to serve ourselves instead of God and those who bear His image and likeness.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“…without love for our fellow human beings there’s no chance of making even the slightest progress towards our spiritual purification. If we don’t pay attention to our thoughts, our words and our heart, there’s no benefit in fasting. Fasting is of benefit when it’s combines with love for our neighbor and when we don’t criticize others. When we don’t criticize our fellows and instead criticize ourselves, then we’re marked by love for others and love for our soul, concern for purification and the fulfillment of the great commandment, that of love of God and one’s neighbor. Love for God and for our fellows are the two great virtues which support the whole of the spiritual structure, because if they are absent, they others cannot take form.” (Elder Ephraim in Arizona)

“The Church’s tradition of fasting exists to restore balance between body and soul, between penitence and rejoicing, between us and the world around us…When the body is humbled, our thoughts become more peaceful, too. This is the purpose of fasting.” (Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou, Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica)

“Withdrawing from earthly things whets our spiritual appetite for Christ’s heavenly gifts…fasting never devalues earthly things, but in a spirit of gratitude restores them to their true function within God’s good creation.” (Dynamis 2/24/2014)

“For Christians, fasting is not gloomy but desirable, a bright sadness, for by fasting, they gain self-control...True fasting is more than what we don’t eat; it also involves pleasing God by applying His Word to our lives.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Matthew 9:14-17, Life Application Study Bible, Isaiah 58:6-12)

“If you fast regularly, do not be inflated with pride, but if you think highly of yourself because of it, then you had better eat meat. It is better for a man to eat meat than to be inflated with pride and to glorify himself…If we distort fasting into a private religious accomplishment to show ourselves, others, and even God how holy we are, we would do better not to fast at all. This spiritual discipline helps us to share more fully in the self-emptying love of Christ as we turn from addiction to satisfying ourselves to freely serving others. That kind of love is essential for growing in union with our neighbors and with the Lord. It is a crucial dimension of participating in the deified humanity of the Savior Who offered up Himself in order to draw all people into the Holy Trinity’s eternal communion of love.” (St. Isidore of Pelusium, Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“To understand fasting as simply abstaining from meat and dairy, animal products, is the equivalent of understanding what Adam and Eve did in the Garden as simple disobedience to God through eating a forbidden fruit. This is not what happened. They wanted to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil before they were spiritually mature enough to be ready for it as God intended. They hungered for life on their own terms, by their own will, not in union with God. They hungered for the wrong thing. It was more of an act of self-love than love of God. They essentially refused to fast; refused to prepare properly for what God wanted to give them in due time. Because sin entered the world through hunger and refusing to fast, fasting becomes a way in which we redirect our hunger back to God so that we may hunger rightly, resist sin, repent and do good.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“In the coming fast we have the opportunity to awaken our hearts and minds to Christ, who calls us to undertake the regimen of fasting. However, He does not wish us to abstain in narrow, slavish obedience to a set of rules concerning the intake of food. Rather, the Lord Jesus asks us to direct our Lenten efforts to Him personally: “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, wailing, and with mourning; rend your heart” (Joel 4:12-13 LXX/Joel 3:12-13).” (Dynamis 3/7/2019)

“But fasting is demanded not only by the nature of the Church, but also by human nature...Christ fasted in preparation for his ministry (Mt 4:2) and it is only by fasting, he tells us, that certain devils are mastered (Mt 17:21). It is by food that Satan seduced Adam and Eve. Hence ascetic fasting is the radical symbol of our Lenten stance before God. It is the renunciation, the exorcising of Satan by accepting the paradox that those who do not eat die, but that only those who lose their life shall find it, for it is not by bread alone that one lives. By its very radicalness, at least in symbolic intention, fasting leads to freedom because it is true mortification, that is, death to self by the abandonment of what is considered necessary for life. The refusal of submission to necessity is freedom, which is of the essence of all true life in Christ." (Archimandrite Robert Taft, SJ)

"…Christians often spend fasting periods groaning about food. And not only this— some become so obsessive about observing the rules of the fast that they spend a great deal of time examining ingredients when they go shopping and are constantly thinking about what they can and cannot eat. The result is that they end up being more concerned with food during the fasts than they are the rest of the time, which contradicts one of the purposes of fasting: to attach less significance to food, not more." (Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou)

“Our fasting is pleasing to the Lord when it is accompanied by mercy and kindness and done without hypocrisy or pride.” (Abbot Tryphon)

“Marvel at fasting and receive her with open arms. Because when she is capable of rescuing people from fire, guarding others from lions, distancing the demons, overruling God’s decision, subduing the crazed passions, restoring our freedom, and granting peace to our soul, when she holds so many goods in her hands, isn’t it foolish for us to avoid and be afraid of fasting?” (St. John Chrysostom)

“The fruit of pleasure is sweet and life-sustaining when it is rooted in the conviction that everything good comes from God above. The problem occurs when we are tempted to believe that God cannot be trusted and that we must create our own world of goodness, seeking pleasure as being desirable in and of itself. This kind of pleasure is initially sweet, but it ends with a bitter aftertaste that brings death. For this reason, there was a fast in the Garden from the very beginning: “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:16–17).” (Kevin Scherer)

“Fasting is an expression of love and devotion, in which one sacrifices earthly satisfaction to attain the heavenly. Altogether too much of one's thoughts are taken up with care for sustenance and the enticements of the palate; one wishes to be free from them. Thus fasting is a step on the road of emancipation and an indispensable support in the struggle against selfish desires. Together with prayer, fasting is one of humanity's greatest gifts, carefully cherished by those who once have participated in it.” (Tito Colliander)

“If the Church does not teach with a loud voice that fasting is about more than refraining from certain foods, she is failing in her duty to preach the fullness of Christ’s gospel. The Church’s ministry must include service to the poor and downtrodden, for her role does not stop with her liturgical services, but begins there. St. John Chrysostom teaches that fasting without accompanying good deeds is like a ship going from port to port without cargo.” (Abbot Tryphon)

“Do not restrict the goodness of fasting only in abstaining from food. For, true fasting is to avoid injustices.” (St. Basil the Great)

“Some are most careful about the food they take in but negligent about the words they give out.” (St. Elijah the Priest)

“...fasting helps put our lives in perspective. We see how weak we are and how easily our emotions are swayed by mere food. Fasting helps us to see that we are not “in charge.” God is the only God, not us.” (Abouna Justin Rose)

“Fasting isn’t just for its own sake. When we fast from food, we are called to become keenly aware of our relationship to food and to pay attention to our own hungers. When we fast from the comforts of our lives, the invitation is to stretch ourselves and become present to what happens when we don’t have our usual securities to rely upon.” (Christine Valters Painter)

"Food is not something profane that has no bearing on our spiritual well- being. Food is actually more important than many Christians like to think. There can be no true spiritual life that does not involve the body. Food is not simply fuel to keep us going. It can bring gladness, warmth, comfort, strength, and health; and it can have the opposite effects when it is abused…Because food is a part of spiritual life, and not something that falls outside the realm of spirituality, fasting has always been an important element of Christian practice." (Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou)

“…laws dealing with food do no spiritual good if grace is not at the heart of one's actions. Such has always been the teaching of the Church with regard to fasting.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Hebrews 13:9)

“As we humble ourselves through fasting, let our chief food be God’s will. Indeed, fasting can be a “little death” of our own choice, for we find life by dying to our passions of body and soul. We choose to die because we long to join the Lord at His heavenly table, partaking of the will of our Father in heaven. Let us briefly explore how we undertake this dying with the Lord Jesus in order to receive His life.” (OCPM 2/23/2017)

“Many Christians, unaware of the great value of fasting, either keep the fast with difficulty or reject it altogether. We should not be afraid to fast but embrace it with joy.” (St. John Chrysostom)

“Fasting helps keep control of the body...and prevents the body from disturbing the mind when it is trying to enter and remain in the presence of God.” (Saint Anthony)

"Students are not quite sure what to say when I ask them how a practice like fasting contributes to the learning of love. I explain that fasting is linked to something we consume every day, food; that every time we fast, it’s an occasion to bring God to our awareness; and that this awareness helps sustain a relation with God that makes love possible." (Aristotle Papanikolaou)

“Do we think of Lent and fasting as what we must give up and requirements or rules we must follow; or do we understand it as a means for gaining increased spiritual growth and well-being. Seeing fasting as all about giving up rather than gaining is actually distorted thinking. We learn early on in Scripture about how our thinking got distorted due to sin and that our first impulse is typically to run away from God or do opposite of what God would have us do even though is best for us. Fasting is about gaining through giving. We voluntarily give up so that we may gain.” (Giving Up or Gaining – How We Experience Lent and Fasting)

“True fasting is refraining from evil, temperance of tongue, suppression of anger, and excision of lust, evil speaking, lying, and oath breaking.” (St. Basil the Great)

“Fasting is really not about giving up anything. It is about gaining through giving. We voluntarily give up to gain. Instead of being focused on the giving up of certain foods we should look at it as a step in growing toward something wonderful, which is Christ Himself and the fruits of the Spirit. Like an athlete or an artist of any sort, you may give up your time for leisure to voluntarily choose to work because you want to get better are your craft. You see the hard work and leisure activities you give up as worth it to attain the goal.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“The spiritual discipline of keeping the fast is invaluable to the Christian life, for it helps make us lighter and more open to spiritual growth.” (Abbott Tryphon)

"If done in a spirit of humility, love, sacrifice, and moderation, fasting can make a big difference to our frame of mind and to our prayer. For instead of the body becoming a hindrance, it is mastered and subjected to the will of the spirit..." (Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou)

“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.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“How is it possible for one fasting not to fast? When he keeps away from food but does not keep away from sin. How is it possible for one who is not fasting to fast? When he enjoys food but does not taste of sin." (St. John Chrysostom)

“In…Christian practice, fasting always functions as preparation for feasting. It points toward celebration, not mourning, and readies the heart and soul for joy. Christian fasting partakes of the inexpressible glory and mystery of Christ, who entered into time once and for all, became incarnate, died, and rose triumphant over death.” (Dynamis 8/29/2014)

“The Lenten fasting practice is very purposeful. It empowers and enlivens our prayer and our repentance....fasting must be undertaken as something joyful and not a burden imposed upon us. We embrace the Fast rather than being imprisoned by it.” (Father Thomas Loya, Abouna Justin Rose)

"Do we fast because it is a rule that we must follow? If such is our primary motivation, then we have not chosen freely to fast with the Church. Instead, we are operating on the basis of rote obedience to religious traditions and rules.” (Dynamis 2/14/2015)

"It avails nothing to subdue the body, if the mind allows itself to be controlled by anger…Fasting without contrition of the heart is nothing.” (St. Gregory the Great, Orthodox Study Bible, Joel 1:14)

“Fasting and other ascetic acts do not necessarily indicate virtue. Blessed Augustine reminds us that even heretics fast! God will not see these actions if we mistreat others. God chooses rather that we humble our own soul.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Isaiah 58:2-5)

"It is necessary most of all for one who is fasting to curb anger, to accustom himself to meekness and condescension, to have a contrite heart, to repulse impure thoughts and desires, to examine his conscience, to put his mind to the test and to verify what good has been done by us in this or any other week, and which deficiency we have corrected in ourselves in the present week. This is true fasting." (St. John Chrysostom)

“We walked in harmony with God, that is, until we ‘broke the fast’—when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit. Since then everything has been out of synchronization with God in varying degrees…When we fast to prepare and then partake of Holy Communion, we are properly redirecting our hunger back to God and having union with Him.” (Father Thomas Loya, Sacramental Living)

"Even though fasting or self-denial is most valuable in the building of character, it is one of the most neglected of all Christian exercises...through the exercises of fasting and self-denial. By fasting and self-denial we develop will power." (Bishop John of Amorion)

"Fasting is not dieting. Fasting is not about keeping a Christian 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 have seen greater good accomplished in souls through their failure in the fasting season than in the souls of those who"fasted well.” Publicans enter the kingdom of God before Pharisees pretty much every time.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“True fasting lies is rejecting evil, holding one's tongue, suppressing one's hatred, and banishing one's lust, evil words, lying, and betrayal of vows…The Holy Church cries out: fasting is not avoiding food, but putting away all evil, controlling the tongue from idle-talking and gossip, forbearing from anger, and abstaining from lust, falsehood, and flattery. Whoever fasts in this way, his fast is pleasing to God.” (St. Basil the Great, St. Anthony)

“We need to fast – to humble ourselves and not make ourselves the center of everything. That’s what fasting does.” (Father John Zeyack)

"Our loving Lord specifically connects fasting to repentance.” (Dynamis 2/26/2014)

“Fasting is a discipline, an aid to repentance. Repentance itself is the object of the exercise.” (Bishop Basil Losten)

“Fasting directs our attention to sinful deeds, but we benefit most when it also prompts us to repudiate the thoughts that precede sinful acts.” (Dynamis 2/26/2014)

“Fasting is both an outward sign of humility and regret for sin, and an inner discipline that clears the mind and keeps the spirit alert.” (Life Application Study Bible, Mark 2:18)

"[fasting] is directed, not against the body, but against the flesh. Its aim is not destructively to weaken the body, but creatively to render the body more spiritual.” (Metropolitan Kallistos Ware)

“Jesus Christ fasted. The apostles and early Church did, too. Fasting is an integral practice of the Church through the ages...Proper fasting involves the heart in right relationship to God and man.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Zechariah 7:8-12)

“Do not neglect the Forty Days; it constitutes an imitation of Christ’s way of life… Two matters concerning forgiveness must be settled prior to commencing the Lenten Fast: our need to be forgiven and our need to forgive." (St. Ignatius the God-bearer, Dynamis 3/2/2014)

"...fasting is a way of being joined much more intimately to the world. When we fast we experience the world in a new way...When we fast, for Christ’s sake, every mouthful of food is made consecrated, sacramental.” (Hieromonk Maximos)

“We must learn to look beyond the incidental weakening of the body which occurs when we fast. Ascetic practices are designed to help us defeat vice and develop virtue. Their primary purpose is to foster in us the strength of ‘the kingdom of God and His righteousness.’” (Dynamis 2/25/2014)

"If it should ever happen that we are hindered…by some necessary and God-pleasing task…from observing our customary fasting and reading, we should not neglect love—which brings about purity of heart. For the gain that comes from fasting and reading is not as great as the harm that comes from despising our brother and grieving him." (St. John Cassian)

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