Monday, December 8, 2008

Fasting

Fasting

Adam fell because he desired something other than Christ.
Adam fell because he dropped Christ as the center of his life.
The essence of the fall was pride. It is indeed the love of the self that awakens all the desires. As the person is subject to the worship of the self, he or she is then is not able to love God or to be near him. Thus, what is the greater cross of the human other than the cross of crucifying the self. In the Orthodox Church then, we find the icon of the crucified monk, the monk that has crucified his passions and his desires. This icon is then the icon for all of us.

This is the essence of the fast, that we crucify this inherent selfishness so that we may love others. For Christ's love in this world is a crucified love.

It is so that fasting in the church is not only to fool our nutritional system; in fact, it is warfare against the passions. We find that this warfare does not lie at the foundation of modern society's attitude towards fasting.

The time of fasting is an invitation for us to come in deep repentance at the feet of Christ as the start of the fasting is to realize that I am limited, I am created and that my Lord Christ is at the centre of all things.

Fasting is a sign that God is the Source of life and not bread. Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. In fasting, we grieve over one fundamental thing and that is sin. The greatest sorrow after we indulge in sin is that we have lost our saintship. St. Siloan of Athos said of this, "For we should not fear anything else but sin, for through sin we lose grace." Thus fasting is the most potent cure for the most dangerous sin that threatens our Christian lives constantly: pride. With Jesus Christ as our desire, fasting is the way. Fasting is a way with no end. Perhaps Christianity is not the way to the world because its way undermines all of humanity's abilities. Christianity does not fail with prayer and fasting.

And what is more dangerous in our fasting than to look at others and judge. For this is hell; hell is looking at others and forgetting our own vices. This is our sin as Christians. Looking at the Orthodox icon, we find it telling us something important. We find the saints in the icons are never looking up to heaven because the Kingdom of God is in them. This means that if the Kingdom of God does not dwell within us, then we will not be able to look at another person with love, to embrace him with love. For if we are not born continually of the Holy Spirit we will not be patient, long suffering, and persevering with our fellow brother or sister.

Thus, during the fast, there exists a a dual path: one to Christ and the other to our fellow brother and sister. However, if I have just moved from one vice to another vice, then I have failed from my target as I have not loved another. For if my fast is not done so that I can love Christ and my fellow man, then my fast is vain. Thus says St. John Chrysostom, "How can you fast from meat when you eat the flesh of your brother?"

Orthodoxy is the stand before the other person. The person who never knew love shall stand on the Last Day to be judged accordingly for the soul that does not know love does not the Christ. So, it is not wrong to struggle and consecrate our lives to Christ, but it is wrong to consecrate our struggle apart from loving others. The goal of the spiritual struggle is that we are changed into a new creation through our Lord Jesus Christ. On this says St. Basil the Great "For the goal of the spiritual struggle (asceticism) is to reconcile the soul that fell and corrupted itself."

The cry of the church this day and all days is this: "Adorn your hearts, not your clothes."

Amen.

May the grace of God be with you in everything you do.

Servant of Christ,
Ray Abdelmalek
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FellowshipofBelievers/

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