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||    Pope Shenouda    ||    Father Matta    ||    Bishop Mattaous    ||    Fr. Tadros Malaty    ||    Bishop Moussa    ||    Bishop Alexander    ||    Habib Gerguis    ||    Bishop Angealos    ||    Metropolitan Bishoy    ||

_The History of the Fast_

Fasting is preventing. It is, before everything, self control.

And it is the first commandment that God gave to the man.



􀃅 For He prevented him from eating from one tree

in Heaven telling him “17but 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” (Gn

2:17). And so the first man lived in self control of this

issue until Satan seduced him so he get tempted and

ate (Gn 3:6).

􀃅 And God created the man vegetarian ever since

the beginning eating beans and tree fruits (Gn 1:29).

And the animal also was herbivorous (Gn 1:30). And

God did not allow the man to eat meat until evil

spread too much on the Earth and God felt sad that

he created the man (Gn 6:6, 7). And thus God

allowed for the flood which vanished every living from

the face of the Earth except for the family of our

father Noah and the animals that went into the ark

with them…

􀃅 Then God allowed the man to eat meat after the

Noah’s ark landed by saying: “Every moving thing

that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all

things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat

flesh with its life, that is, its blood” (Gn 9:3, 4).

􀃅 And so with the permission to eat meat, the

preventing factor still existed. And it is preventing

them from eating flesh with its live. The man is not

allowed to eat flesh with blood. And not allowed to kill

his brother (Gn 9:6)… And forbidding eating flesh with

blood is in the covenant that God gave to humans

through Prophet Moses (Gn 17:10). Also in accepting

people from different nations. God said to the fathers

the apostles in their first meeting they held: that they

tell people coming into faith from the nations “that

you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood,

from things strangled, and from sexual immorality”

(Ac 15:29)…

And in the convent too He forbade eating unclean



And fasting is not only a virtue related to

food: What do you eat? And When do you eat?

But there is also fasting of the soul…

It is very good that the body fasts but does the

soul fasts as well at the same time? There is a higher

level from the fasting soul, which is the ascetic soul.

But because this asceticism is not easy for everyone

to do, some limitations were placed for normal

humans… And even the body fasting, specific days

and occasions were set for it because not every

human can fast continuously…

But the fasting of the heart, the mind and

the senses from sin is required for everyone.

For he who fasts his mouth from food and does

not fast his heart from sinful desires, his tongue from

wrongful words, and his mind from false thoughts…

The fasting of this man becomes false… Because God

wants the purity of the heart before everything else.

And out of the purity of the heart comes all types of

fasts whether body concerned or soul concerned.

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿


The fast has its positives as well, and it is

not only humiliation of the body.

􀃅 Maybe one of the most important of its positives

is prayer. So that the soul participated with the body

in its fast. Thus, we repeat in the fast liturgies the

sentence “Fasting and prayer are the ones that…” And

even for casting out daemons the Lord said “However,

this kind does not go out except by prayer and

fasting” (Mt 17:21).

􀃅 And one of the important positives that

accompanies fast is the acts of mercy.

As the person while fasting feel the pain of

hunger and need for food, he has to be merciful with

the hungry and the needy. And one of the fathers

once said “If you do not have something to give

them, fast and give them your food”.

And we have noticed the importance of this issue

when the Divine Inspiration mentioned it in Prophet

Isaiah’s book. When the people cried out to Him

saying “Why have we fasted,' they say, "and You

have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and

You take no notice?” (Is 58:3). So God’s answer to

them included: “Is it a fast that I have chosen, A day

for a man to afflict his soul?... Would you call this a

fast, And an acceptable day to the LORD? Is this not

the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of

wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the

oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is

it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that

you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;

When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not

hide yourself from your own flesh?” (Is 58:5-7).

So there is an acceptable fast the Lord chooses and

another than is unacceptable.

􀃅 One of the important positives of the fast is:



Actually, it is the most important positive because

fasting without repentance is like a bird without

wings. Therefore, the church has set the fasting of

Nineveh People two weeks before the Great Lent so

that they set an example for us in our fasting…

All Nineveh People fasted a very precise fasting

and they humiliated themselves, so God forgave them

and did not vanish them. But how was that? The Holy

Bible says “Then God saw their works, that they

turned from their evil way; and God relented from the

disaster that He had said He would bring upon them,

and He did not do it.” (Jon 3:10).

We notice here that the reason God forgave them

was based on their repentance.

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿


Some people may say: We hear many sermons

about fasting and there are many fasts that they have

fasted every year, yet the sins are still as is and the

nature did not change!! And we say that the flaw here

is not in the fast but it is in the way they fasted. They

thought that fasting is just a duration related to their

food, its types and timing of their eating! And they

forgot the virtues of the fast and did not exercise

while fasting on leaving their sins…

So what are these exercises that are related to


􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

􀃅 First, we mention exercises related to


Every person while fasting should have a serious

sitting with himself and discover all his sins honestly

without complements or explanations to himself. Then

he should start exercising himself on leaving these

sins that he loves and that control him and that he

keep repeating in his confessions. Also the sins that

people can see in him even if he does not know or

confess about them. And firmly keep these sins away

and close all the doors that allow them into himself.

Meaning he should avoid the reasons that lead to


􀃅 Second: he should train himself on what he

needs of the fruits of the spirit:

And they are as St. Paul the Apostle mentioned in

(Gal 5:22, 23): “love, joy, peace, longsuffering,

kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, selfcontrol”…

He can take them one by one. Because he

can’t exercise on all of them at one shot. Especially

that love itself has many details in (1 Co 13: 4-7).

􀃅 There are certain exercises related to

praying and memorizing:

So he should train himself to start his day and

end with prayer. And pray with understanding,

passion, concentration and humility. He should also

train on prayers of praising, thanksgiving, confessing

sins and asking help in everything. And prayer for

others, for the church, the society and God’s Kingdom

in every place. And he should train on not being fast

in praying.

He also should exercise memorizing psalms, parts

in Agpeya, hymns and praises and chapters from the

Holy Bible. And exercise meditating in what he

memorizes and use it in his prayers.

􀃅 Other exercises related to giving:

He should be honest in paying the tithes, first

offering and vows. And as much as he can did not

reject a request by a needy and remembered the Lord

commandment in (Pv 3:27, 28).

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