The leader of feats and our Saviour, the Lord
Jesus Christ, before setting out on the feat of redeeming the human race,
fortified Himself with a lengthy fast. And all ascetics, proceeding to work for
the Lord, armed themselves by fasting and did not set out on the path of the
Cross without the feat of fasting. They measured the very success of their
ascetism by their success in fasting.
Despite their fasting, and to the surprise of
others, the holy fathers did not know weakness but always remained hearty,
strong and ready for the task at hand. Illnesses were rare among them and their
lives were extraordinarily prolonged.
During the time that the body of one fasting
becomes thin and light, the spiritual life attains to perfection and reveals
itself through miraculous manifestations. The spirit then performs its actions
as if in a bodiless body. External feelings are as shut out, and the mind,
renouncing the worldly, ascends to the heavenly and becomes completely immersed
in the contemplation of the spiritual world. Yet not everyone can take upon
himself strict rules of abstinence from everything, nor deprive himself
completely of all that serves to relieve infirmities: "He that is able
to receive it, let him receive it" (Mt. 19:12).
One should take enough food everyday to strengthen
the body, so that it can be a friend and helper to the soul in accomplishing
virtues: otherwise it can happen that through the exhaustion of the body the
spirit can weaken. On Wednesdays and Fridays, particularly during the four
Lenten periods, follow the example of the Fathers and take food once a day ó
and the Angel of the Lord will affix himself to you.
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