Contemplations on Nativity Fast
Contemplations on Nativity Fast
Let's start by a simple contemplation on the Mount of transfiguration where there stood three characters surrounded by amazing weight light.
The three excelled in fasting, namely our Lord Jesus Christ, glory be to him (Matt2:4), Moses the prophet (Hez28:40) and Elijah (1Kings 8:19)… Does this awesome view implies a great meaning… Did Jesus choose these two figures to appear next to Him to show us the nature of our bodies that will be transfigured us eternity, namely the nature that conquered all physical desires through fasting.
Fasting has been the first commandment that God almighty granted to Adam forbidding him from eating from one particular tree (Gen 2:17, 16). Thus putting limits to the physical desires not to be transgressed.
Helping Man to have a controlled will… so, Man had to control his desires. The fruit of the tree may have been" good for food and pleasing to the eye" (Gen3:6) yet we must not eat it as we are not allowed this helps man to soar over physical desires which is the aim of fasting.
Once we know the benefits of fasting we realize that it is a gift from God.
Then fasting is not only a mere commandment but rather it is a gift and a blessing from God who created us Body & spirit, He knows that fasting is a necessity for our spiritual growth and for our eternal life. As a loving Father and wise Instructor (teacher) He taught us that fasting is a gift that precedes every service and receiving any grace.
Thus, all our Feasts are preceded by fasting.
Eucharist bearing a precious grace is preceded by fasting. The same applies to ordaining priests everyone participating should be fasting.
Al the curly era of the church, the Apostles used to fast before choosing those who would join the service "while they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the holy spirit said" set apart for me Barns as and soul for the work to which I have called them."
So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off" (Acts13: 2,3).
We receive all blessings from God by fasting as fasting prepares our souls to receive the blessings. Lord Jesus Christ fasted 40 days and 40 nights before beginning His service.
He spent those days in a retreat with the Heavenly Father on the mountain.
The newly ordained priest is given the chance to spend 40 days as well, following the example set by our Lord Jesus Christ in a retreat in one of the Monasteries before beginning his service.
The apostles started their service by fasting waiting to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Fasting accompanied their service henceforth, so that it would be accepted and appreciated by God almighty. Thus receiving the support of God in the whole service.
John the Baptist lived all his life fasting in a retreat in the prairies, before starting his service calling people to repent, thus paving the road to the Lord.
The sacraments of Baptism, the Baptist must be fasting as well, also the priest, carrying out the rituals must be fasting… His God mother& father should be fasting, thus receiving a new spiritual birth. The same is to be said for receiving the Myron which is the sacrament of receiving the "Holy Spirit" which follows the Baptism sacrament. Eucharist or the sacrament of Holy Communion as well is received when we are fasting. Also during the Unction of the sick the priest as well as the sick person receiving the ointment must be fasting with the exception of the sick who do not fast following the orders of doctors. As for the sacrament of confession and that of Matrimony, it's preferable that the confessor be fasting, but as the church encourages people to practice thus sacrament it is not a must. As for the married couple, Jesus Christ mentioned that "As long as the groom is present, there is no fasting…" (Psalm2-19)- However it should be noted that in the early ages of Christianity the married couple used to attend Mass, fasting receive Holy Communion and attend the rituals of marriage. This used to happen to emphasize the fact that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are received while fasting. Even at times of torment fasting is what believers resort to for God to take action effectively in their lives.
This has been experienced by Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah. Queen Ester also experienced the effect of fasting in saving the Jewish people from conspiracy. This was experienced by the church in the 4th century facing Arius Heresy. Thus it became deeply rooted in Christian belief that Fasting solves problems. The person who trusts his own power& intelligence may rely on himself solving his own problems. But the person who knows his weaknesses, he resorts to God to solve his problem making use of fasting addressing God compassion and Mercy following the words of the Psalm: "Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now rise", says the Lord. "I will protect them (Psalm 12).
Fasting is a good opportunity to ask God to intervene in our problems. The crushed heart calls upon God and God answers. It is a time to draw near to God and God becomes close to people listening to their mourning and groaning and acting in His own way for their favor.
When people are indulged in worldly matters not paying attention to their spiritual life they feel that God has abandoned them. But they reality is that they have driven themselves away from Him.
But during fasting man draws nearer to God asking Him to intervene in their lives, asking for His support. While fasting man can gains God compassion and this makes man happy and cheerful that's why Christians, knowing the benefits of fasting they welcome the times of fasting and never think much about the types of food. The fast of the Apostles is welcomed after a long time of non-fast (during the holy fifty). Moreover, Christians may add personal fasting to the general ones.
In the coming chapters we'll be tackling the great benefits of fasting which became a life style for monks with the exception of the Feast days.
Such life-style was the source of serenity for monks' life. But people leading a secular for they are not stable. They spend some time fasting, and some other time non-fasting, thus shifting from one spiritual mood to another Similar to someone who starts building them destroying what he has built.