ON FASTING (MAUNDY
Now is the time of salvation, to
heal every stain of sin and vice. So pray to the Divine Physician
and do not despise His precepts.
You will be healed if you carefully
observe the doctor's orders. But if you do other than what is
ordered, the illness is aggravated and the transgressor, alone, is
Our sins must die before life is
given to us: "You have died to your sins and now your life is
hidden in Christ." We die when we cease to be what we have been
and we live when virtue appears in us.
Impiety in us must die so that
mercy may arise; adultery must die that chastity may be born.
Idolatry must die so that true religion may live. Drunkenness must
die so that sobriety might come to birth. We must die to sin that we
may rise in virtue. . .this is to be born again, a second birth.
God strikes to heal us. He strikes
us with His precepts in order to heal us. He inflicts blows with His
commandments in order to correct us. Thus, by striking Paul, he was
restored to health. Striking him down from his horse, making him
blind and weak; from a Jew, he became a Christian; from a
blasphemer, an apostle; from Saul to Paul.
God is the divine physician who
strikes in order to heal us, Who gives us life by causing death. Let
us submit to Him so He can remove everything that is of the devil
from us and leave only that of God with us.
And what is His precept? For
starters -- to fast and to pray. By fasting, we control the passions
of the body; by prayer, we nourish the soul.
Elias, by prayer and fasting,
merited help for his people. Moses, with prayer and fasting, merited
to speak to God. And Christ prayed and fasted, teaching us how to
overcome all evil.
There is a useless and empty fast
that empties the stomach and the intestines but does not empty the
mind of worldliness and the heart of wickedness. The body refrains
from strong wine while the thoughts wallow in the wine of avarice.
Such fasting weakens the boddy but does not save the soul.
True fasting is to fast from sin,
from food and even from the good things in life. The body abstains
from food so that the soul may abstain from vices. Most fasting
simply fills up our pantries; but it does not fill our souls with
True fasting is meant to draw God's
pity on us. The only fasting pleasing to God is when we chastise our
bodies with abstinence while clothing our souls with humility.
Lastly, whatever is given up in
fasting and abstinence must be given to the poor. So, while you go
hungry, someone else is satisfied. Your hunger profits you and the
beggar's fullness also profits you.
But the one who fasts and does not
give to the poor has just gained an economic advantage, saved a few
pennies and has just acted in a businesslike way. They weaken their
bodies to save money.
During this period of Quadragesima,
Christ, by His fasting in the desert, is obliging us to do the same
. . . under pain of losing our souls.
St. Maximus of Turin, Sermon