On Fasting

This short text contains a number of excerpts from the homilies On Fasting by St. Basil the Great (PG 31:164-197). Phrases from those homilies are given in grey.

10996437_520497788090912_362213976206516315_nYearn for the poverty of Christ that you might acquire the wealth of his divinity. Yearn for that most beautiful fasting, a thing of honor, acceptable to God. Fasting is a chariot to heaven. It gives rise to prophets and brings wisdom to lawgivers. It is good protection for the soul and a sure companion for the body. It is a weapon for those who do battle and a gymnasium for the athlete. Fasting drives away temptations and anoints us for the acquisition of piety. It is the companion of watchfulness and the creator of temperance. Fasting gives us courage in our struggles. It has quenched the power of fire and stopped the mouths of lions. Fasting lifts our prayer to heaven.

Fasting is the mother of clean living, the education of the young, the adornment of the old, and the good company of the wayfarer. The body of one who fasts is venerable and his soul honorable.

Fasting brought Lazaros to rest in the bosom of Abraham. Let us yearn for it, that we, too, might be received into the bosom of Abraham. Let us flee the feasting and drunkenness of those who are filled with laughter, for drunkenness is the mother of fornication. It keeps the Lord out and chases away the Holy Spirit.

Fasting is the good order of the city and the lawfulness of the marketplace. It brings peace to our homes. It is the bringer and protector of virginity. Fasting is the path of repentance and the inducement of tears. It loves not the world, neither the things in the world.

Let us not scorn those around us when we fast. For it is the angels who make a registry of those who fast in every church. Fasting does not admit the remembrance of wrongs. For those who heap up for themselves the remembrance of wrongs, even if they should pray or fast, are like those who collect water and pour it into a broken container. The Lord does not accept one who remembers the wrongs of his brother. To whom belongs the glory and the might unto the ages of ages. Amen.

CPG 3984. Ed. K. Phrantzolas, Ὁσίου Ἐφραίμ τοῦ Σύρου ἔργα, vol. 5 (Thessalonica: Garden of the Panaghia, 1994): 141-142. Cf. Assemani 6:22-23.

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