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Appendix 1: Basil’s Sermons About Fasting

As noted in chapter three, there are two authentic, extant Greek fasting homilies written by St. Basil the Great for Lent, Περὶ Νηστείας, also known by the Latin De jejunio. The text used here is from J. P. Migne’s Patrologia graeca, which is available electronically.737 They have been newly translated here as About Fasting, Sermons 1 and 2. (A third homily on fasting in the Basilian corpus is universally regarded as inauthentic.)738 The only available English translation that the author has found, and that of only the first homily, is by Reginald Cardinal Pole, who appended a translation of it to his Treatie of Iustification in 1569.739 That English is of good quality, but now antiquated in style.

It is hoped that this translation can make something of a modest contribution to the field of patristic studies, and studies of Basil in particular. So many works remain unavailable to the English reader, and so it is hoped that this effort will be a welcome addition to our literature from the great treasury of Christian antiquity. For a discussion of the themes in the content of the sermons, the reader is referred to chapter three.


Our Holy Father Basil, Archbishop of Caesarea, Cappadocia. About Fasting (De jejunio), Sermon 1.

[31.164.] Σαλπίσατε, φησὶν, ἐν νεομηνίᾳ , σάλπιγγι ἐν εὐσήμῳ ἡμέρά ἑορτῆς ὑμω½ ν. Τοῦτο πρόσταγμα ἐστι προφητικόν. ῾Ημῖν δὲ πάσης σάλπιγγος μεγαλοφωνότερον, καὶ παντὸς ὀργάνου μουσικοῦ εὐσημότερον, τὴν προάγουσαν τῶν ἡμερῶν ἑορτὴν ὑποσημαίνει τὰ ἀναγνῶσματα. ᾿Εγνωρίσαμεν γὰρ τῶν νηστειῶν τὴν χάριν ἐκ τοῦ ῾Ησαί>ου, τὸν μὲν ᾿Ιουδαϊκὸν τῆς νηστείας τρόπον παρωσαμένου, τὴν δὲ ἀληθινὴν νηστείαν ἡμῖν παραδείξαντος. Μὴ εἰς κρίσεις καὶ μάχας νηστεύετε, ἀλλὰ λύε πάντα σύνδεσμον ἀδικίας. Καὶ ὁ Κύριος: Μὴ γίνεσθε σκυθρωποὶ, ἀλλὰ νίψαι σου τὸ πρόσωπον καὶ ἄλειψαί σου τὴν κεφαλήν. Διατεθῶμεν τοίνυν, ὡς ἐδιδάχθη μεν, μὴ κατασκυθρωπάζοντες ἐπὶ ταῖς προσιούσαις ἡμέραις, ἀλλὰ φαιδρῶς πρὸς αὐτὰς, ὡς πρέπει ἁγίοἰ, διατιθέμενοι. Οὐδεὶς ἀθυμῶν στεφανοῦται: οὐδεὶς στυγνάζων τρόπαιον ἵστησι. Μὴ σκυθρωπά σῃς θεραπευόμενος. ῍Ατοπον μὴ χαίρειν ἐπὶ ὑγείᾳ ψυχῆς, ἀλλὰ λυπεῖσθαι ἐπὶ βρωμάτων ὑπαλλαγῇ, καὶ πλείονα χάριν φαίνεσθαι διδόντας ἡδονῇ γαστρὸς ἢ ἐπιμελείᾳ ψυχῆς.

[31.164] 1. “Sound the trumpet,” he declares, “in the new moon, on the high day of your feast.”740 This command is from the prophets. But it’s for us, too. The reading indicates the beginning of the feast days, and to us every trumpet is louder, and every musical instrument clearer.741

For we have come to know the gift of the fasts of Isaiah. While the Jewish manner of fasting has been set aside, a true fast has been handed down to us. Don’t “fast unto judgment and strife,” but “loose every chain of injustice.”742 And the Lord says: “Don’t be like the gloomy-faced, but wash your face and anoint your head.”743 Therefore let’s agree, as it has been taught, that we won’t be looking gloomy on the days that are approaching. Rather, we will cheerfully, agreeably look forward to them, as is fitting for saints.

No one is passionless when he is receiving a victory crown! No one is gloomy when a victory monument is being erected for him. Don’t make being healed gloomy! It’s outrageous that you don’t rejoice over the health of your soul, but grieve over changing foods. You appear to be giving more favors to the pleasure of your stomach than to the care of your soul.

Κόρος μὲν γὰρ εἰς γαστέρα τὴν χάριν ἵστησι: νηστεία δὲ πρὸς ψυχὴν ἀναβιβάζει τὸ 31.165 κέρδος. Εὐθύμησον, ὅτι σοι δέδοται παρὰ τοῦ ἰατροῦ φάρμακον ἁμαρτίας

ἀναιρετικόν. Ωσπερ γὰρ οἱ ἐν τοῖς ἐγκάτοις τῶν παίδων ζωογονούμενοι σκῶληκες φαρμάκοις τισὶ δριμυτάτοις ἐξαφανίζονται, οὕτως ἁμαρτίαν, ὑποικουροῦσαν τῷ βάθει, ἐναποκτείνει τῇ ψυχῇ ἐπεισελθοῦσα νηστεία, ἥγε ὡς ἀληθῶς τῆς προσηγορίας ταύτης ἀξία.

2. ῎Αλειψαί σου τὴν κεφαλὴν, καὶ νίψαι τὸ πρόσωπον. ᾿Επὶ μυστήριά σε καλεῖ ὁ λόγος. ῾Ο ἀλειψάμενος ἐχρίσατο: ὁ νιψάμενος ἀπεπλύνατο. ᾿Επὶ τὰ ἔνδον λάμβανε τῶν μελῶν τὴν νομοθεσίαν. ᾿Απόπλυνε τὴν ψυχὴν ἁμαρτημάτων. Χρῖσαι τὴν κεφαλὴν χρίσματι ἁγί῟, ἵνα μέτοχος γένv Χριστοῦ, καὶ οὕτω πρόσελθε τῇ νηστείᾳ. Μὴ ἀφανίσῃς τὸ πρόσ ωπόν σου ὥσπερ οἱ ὑποκριταί. ᾿Αφανίζεται πρόσ ωπον, ὅταν ἡ ἔνδον διάθεσις ἐπιπλάστῳ σχήματι τῷ ἔξωθεν ἐπισκοτῆται, ωÐ σπερ ὑπὸ παραπετάσματι τῷ ψεύδει καλυπτομένη.

While getting filled up does a favor for the stomach, fasting returns [31.165] benefits to the soul. Be encouraged, because the doctor has given you a powerful remedy for sin. Strong, powerful medicines can get rid of annoying worms that are living in the bowels of children. Fasting is like that, as it cuts down to the depths, venturing into the soul to kill sin. It is truly fitting to call it by this honorable name of medicine.

2. “Anoint your head, and wash your face.”744 The word calls to you in a mystery. What is anointed is christened; what is washed is cleansed.745 Transfer this divine law to your inner life. Thoroughly wash the soul of sins. Anoint your head with a holy oil, so that you may be a partaker of Christ, and then go forth to the fast.

“Don’t darken your face like the hypocrites.”746 A face is darkened when the inner disposition is feigned, arranged to obscure it to the outside, like a curtain conceals what is false.

῾Υποκριτής ἐστιν ὁ ἐν θεάτρῳ ἀλλότριον πρόσωπον ὑπελθῶν: δοῦλος ὤν, πολλάκις τὸ τοῦ δεσπότου, καὶ ἰδιώτης, τὸ τοῦ βασιλέως. Οὕτω καὶ ἐν τῷ βίῳ τούτῳ, ὤσπερ ἐπὶ ὀρχήστρας τῆς ἑαυτῶν ζωῆς οἱ πολλοὶ θεατρίζουσιν, ἄλλα μὲν ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ φέροντες, ἄλλα δὲ ἐν τῇ ἐπιφανείᾳ τοῖς ἀνθρῶποις δεικνύντες. Μὴ ἀφάνιζε οὖν τὸ πρόσωπον. Οἴος εἶ, τοιοῦτος φαίνου: μὴ κατασχηματίζου σεαυτὸν πρὸς τὸ σκυθρωπὸν, τὴν ἐκ τοῦ δοκεῖν ἐγκρατὴς εἶναι δόξαν θηρῶμενος. Οὔτε γὰρ εὐποιίας σαλπιζομένης ὄφελος, καὶ νηστείας δημοσιευομένης κέρδος οὐδέν. Τὰ γὰρ ἐπιδεικτικῶς γινόμενα οὐ πρὸς τὸν αἰῶνα τὸν μέλλοντα τὸν καρπὸν ἐκτείνει, ἀλλ᾿ εἰς τὸν τῶν ἀνθρῶπων ἔπαινον καταστρέφει. Πρόσδραμε τοίνυν φαιδρῶς τῇ δωρεᾷ τῆς νηστείας. ᾿Αρχαῖον δῶρον ἡ νηστεία: οὐ παλαιούμενον καὶ γηράσκον, ἀλλ᾿ ἀνανεούμενον ἀεὶ, καὶ εἰς ἀκμὴν ἐπανθοῦν.

An actor747 in the theater puts on the face of another. Often one who is a slave puts on the face of a master, and a subject puts on royalty.748 This also happens in life. Just as in the production cast of one’s own life many act on the stage. Some things are borne in the heart, but others are shown to men for the sake of appearances. Therefore don’t darken your face. Whatever kind it is, let it show.

Don’t disfigure yourself toward gloominess, or be chasing after the glory of appearing temperate. Not even almsgiving749 is of any profit when it is trumpeted, and neither is fasting that is done for publicity of any value. Ostentatious things don’t bear fruit that lasts through the coming ages, but return back in the praises of men.

So run to greet the cheerful gift of the fast. Fasting is an ancient gift, but it is not worn out and antiquated. Rather, it is continually made new, and still is coming into bloom.

3. Οἴει με τὴν ἀρχαιογονίαν αὐτῆς ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου τίθεσθαι; Καὶ νόμου πρεσβυτέρα νηστεία. ᾿Εὰν μικρὸν ἀναμείῃς, εὑρήσεις τοῦ λόγου τὴν ἀλήθειαν. Μὴ οἴου τὴν ἡμέραν τοῦ ἱλασμοῦ, τὴν διατεταγμένην τῷ ᾿Ισραὴλ τῷ ἑβδόμῳ μηνὶ, τῇ δεκάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ τοῦ μηνὸς, ταύτην εἶναι τῆς νηστείας τὴν ἀρχήν. Δεῦρο δὴ διὰ τῆς ἱστορίας βαδίζων, ἀνερεύνησον τὴν ἀρχαιογονίαν αὐτῆς. Οὐ γὰρ νεῶτερον τὸ ἐφεύρεμα: πατέρων ἐστὶ τὸ κειμήλιον. Πᾶν τὸ ἀρχαιότητι διαφέρον, αἰδέσιμον. Δυσωπήθητι τὴν πολιὰν τῆς νη- 31.168 στείας. Συνηλικιῶτίς ἐστι τῆς ἀνθρωπότητος: νη στεία ἐν τῷ παραδείσῳ ἐνομοθετήθη. Τὴν πρῶτην ἐντολὴν ἔλαβεν ᾿Αδάμ: ᾿Απὸ τοῦ ξύλου τοῦ γινῶσκειν καλὸν καὶ πονηρὸν οὐ φάγεσθε. Τὸ δὲ, οὐ φάγεσθε, νηστείας ἐστὶ καὶ ἐγκρατείας νομοθεσία. Ει᾿ ἐνήστευσεν ἀπὸ τοῦ ξύλου ἡ Εὔα, οὐκ ἂν ταύτης νῦν ἐδεόμεθα τῆς νηστείας.

3. Do you think I am finding the ancient origin of fasting from the law? Fasting is even older than the law. If you will tolerate me a little while, you will find the truth from the word. Don’t think that the Day of Atonement, commanded to Israel in the seventh month, the tenth day of the month,750 was the beginning of fasting.

Indeed, come on and walk through the history, investigating its ancient origins. For the invention isn’t new. It’s an heirloom from the fathers. Everything of such great antiquity deserves respect for its importance. Show some respect for the gray head of fasting!

[31.168] Fasting is as old as mankind itself. It was given as a law in paradise. The first commandment Adam received was: “From the tree of the knowledge of good and evil do not eat.”751 Now this command, “do not eat,” is the divine law of fasting and temperance. If Eve had fasted from the tree, we would not have to keep this fast now.

Οὐ γὰρ χρείαν ἔχουσιν οἱ ἰσχύοντες ἰατροῦ, ἀλλ᾿ οἱ κα κῶς ἔχοντες. ᾿Εκακῶθημεν διὰ τῆς ἁμαρτίᾳ: ἰαθῶ μεν διὰ τῆς μετανοίᾳ: μετάνοια δὲ χωρὶς νηστείας ἀργή. ᾿Επικατάρατος ἡ γῆ, ἀκάνθας καὶ τριβόλους ἀνατελεῖ σοι. Στυγνάζειν προσετάχθης, μὴ γὰρ τρυφᾷν. Διὰ νηστείας ἀπολόγησαι τῷ Θεῷ. ᾿Αλλὰ καὶ ἡ ἐν παραδείσῳ διαγωγὴ νηστείας ἐστὶν εἰκὼν, οὐ μόνον καθότι τοῖς ἀγγέλοις ὁμοδίαιτος ὤν ὁ ἄνθρωπος, διὰ τῆς ὀλιγαρκίας τὴν πρὸς αὐτοὺς ὁμοίωσιν κατῶρθου, ἀλλ᾿ ὅτι καὶ ὅσα ὕστερον ἡ ἐπίνοια τῶν ἀνθρῶπων ἐξεῦρεν, οὔπω τοῖς ἐν τῷ παραδείσῳ διαιτωμένοις ἐπενενόητο: οὔπω οἰνοποσίαι, οὔπω ζωοθυσίαι, οὐχ ὅσα τὸν νοῦν ἐπιθολοῖ τὸν ἀνθρῶπινον.

4. ᾿Επειδὴ οὐκ ἐνηστεύσαμεν, ἐξεπέσομεν τοῦ παραδείσου: νηστεύσωμεν τοίνυν, ἵνα πρὸς αὐτὸν ἐπανέλθωμεν. Οὐχ ὁρᾷς τὸν Λάζαρον, πῶς διὰ νηστείας εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸν παράδεισον; Μὴ μιμήσῃ τῆς Εὔας τὴν παρακοὴν, μὴ πάλιν σύμβουλον παραδέξῃ τὸν ὄφιν, φειδοῖ τῆς σαρκὸς τὴν βρῶσιν ὑποτιθέμενον. Μὴ προφασίζου ἀῥῥωστίαν σῶματος καὶ ἀδυναμίαν. Οὐ γὰρ ἐμοὶ τὰς προφάσεις, ἀλλὰ τῷ εἰδότι λέγεις.

The strong don’t need a doctor, but the sick do.752 We were made sick through sin; let’s be healed through repentance. But repentance753 without fasting is ineffective. “For the earth is cursed, thorns and briars rise up to you.”754 You see, enduring pain has been prescribed for you, not delicate living.

Through fasting satisfaction is made to God. But the way of life of fasting in paradise is also an image, as people were sharing the life of angels. Even more than that, through contentment with little, humanity’s likeness to the angels would have been established. But also because whatever kinds of diet human inventiveness later discovered, those in paradise had not yet come to understand. There wasn’t the drinking of wine yet, nor the eating of meat,755 nor anything clouding the human mind.

4. Since we did not fast, we fell from paradise. Well, now let’s fast, so that we may go back again. Remember Lazarus, how through fasting he entered into paradise?756 Don’t imitate Eve’s disobedience; don’t again receive counsel from the serpent. That’s how we were made subject to fleshly food. Don’t make weakness of the body and illness a pretext. You aren’t pretending to me, but you are talking to the One who knows.

Νηστεύειν οὐ δύνασαι [ εἰπέ μοι) ; κορέννυσθαι δὲ διὰ βίου, καὶ συντρίβειν τὸ σῶμα τῷ βάρει τῶν ἐσθιομένων δύνασαι; Καὶ μὴν τοῖς ἀσθενοῦσιν οὐχὶ βρωμάτων ποικιλίαν, ἀλλ᾿ ἀσιτίαν καὶ ἔνδειαν οἶδα τοὺς ἰατροὺς ἐπιτάσσοντας. Πῶς οὖν ὁ ταὐτα δυνάμενος, ἐκεῖνα προφασίζῃ μὴ δύνασθαι; Τί εὐκοπῶτερον τῇ γαστρί; λιτότητι διαίτης παρενεγκεῖν τὴν νύκτα, ἢ δαψιλείᾳ βρωμάτων βεβαρημένην κεῖσθαι; μᾶλλον δὲ μηδὲ κεῖσθαι, ἀλλὰ πυκνὰ μεταστρέφεσθαι διαῥῥηγνυμένην καὶ στένουσαν; εἰ μὴ καὶ τοὺς κυβερνήτας φήσεις βαρυνομένην τοῖς ἀγωγίμοις ὁλκάδα εὐκολῶτερον σῶζειν τῆς εὐσταλεστέρας καὶ κούφης. Τὴν μὲν γὰρ πεπιεσμένην τῷ πλήθει βραχεῖα κύματος ἐπανάστασις κατεβάπτισεν: ἡ δὲ συμμέτρως τῶν ἀγωγίμων ἔχουσα ῥᾳδίως ὑπεραίρει τοῦ κλύδωνος, οὐδενὸς ἐμποδίζοντος αὐτὴν ὑψηλοτέραν γενέσθαι. Καὶ τοίνυν τὰ τῶν ἀνθρῶπων σῶματα, συνεχεῖ μὲν τῷ κόρῳ καταβαρυνόμενα, εὐκόλως ὑποβρύχια ταῖς ἀῥῥωστίαις γίνεται: εὐσταλεῖ δὲ καὶ κούφῃ τῇ τροφῇ κεχρημένα, καὶ τὸ προσδοκῶμενον ἐκ νόσου κακὸν 31.169 ὥσπερ χειμῶνος

ἐπανάστασιν ὑπεξέφυγε, καὶ τὸ ἤδη παρὸν ὀχληρὸν ὥσπερ τινὰ σπιλάδος ἐπιδρομὴν διεκρούσατο.

Tell me, aren’t you able to fast? But you’re able to be filled up with this life, and to afflict the body with the weight of the things being eaten? Indeed, I know that doctors have ordered even sick people to abstain and go hungry, rather than eat all kinds of foods. How come somebody like that is able to do these things, but you pretend you aren’t able to do that?

What’s easier to the stomach? A plain diet that carries you through the night, or rich foods that weigh you down like a rock when you lie down? But even more than troubling you when you lie down, doesn’t it frequently turn on you like an enemy, tearing through and causing you stomach contractions?

You would surely agree that the pilot of a merchant ship is better able to safely guide it to port if it is not fully loaded, when it is in excellent condition and light. The ship completely loaded down is sunk by a minor swell in the waters. But the boat that has a captain smart enough to toss overboard the extra weight will ride high above even surging waves.

That’s like people in burdened down bodies. A person gets absorbed with filling up, getting weighed down until finally falling into ill health. But those who are well-equipped, light, and truly nourished, avoid the prospect of serious disease. 31.169 They are like the boat in stormy weather that goes right over a dangerous rock.

῏Ηπου καὶ τὸ ἡσυχάζειν κατὰ σὲ τοῦ τρέχειν ἐπιπονῶτερον, καὶ τοῦ παλαίειν τὸ ἡρεμεῖν: εἴπερ οὖν καὶ τὸ τρυφᾷν τοῦ λιτῶς διαιτᾶσθαι τοῖς ἀσθενοῦσι φῇς εἶναι καταλληλότερον. Η γὰρ οἰκονομοῦσα τὸ ζῶον δύναμις αὐτάρκειαν μὲν καὶ λιτότητα ῥᾳδίως κατειργάσατο, καὶ ᾠκείωσε τῷ τρεφομένῳ: πολυτέλειαν δὲ καὶ ποικιλίαν βρωμάτων παραλαβοῦσα, εἶτα ἀντισχεῖν πρὸς τὸ πέρας οὐκ ἐξαρκέσασα, τὰ ποικίλα γένη τῶν νοσημάτων ἐποίησεν.

᾿5. Αλλ᾿ ἐπὶ τὴν ἱστορίαν βαδιζέτω ὁ λόγος, τὸ ἀρχαῖον τῆς νηστείας διεξιῶν: καὶ ὅπως πάντες οἱ ἅγιοι, ὥσπερ τινὰ κλῆρον πατρῷον διαδεξάμενοι, οὕτω διεφύλαξαν, πατὴρ παιδὶ παραδιδόντες: ὅθεν καὶ εἰς ἡμᾶς ἀκολουθίᾴ διαδοχῆς διεσῶθη τὸ κτῆμα. Οὐκ ἦν ἐν τῷ παραδείσῳ οἶνος, οὔπω ζωοθυσίαι, οὔπω κρεωφαγίαι. Μετὰ τὸν κατακλυσμὸν οἶνος: μετὰ τὸν κατακλυσμὸν, Φάγεσθε πάντα ὡς λάχανα χόρτου. Οτε ἀπεγνῶσθη ἡ τελείωσις, τότε συνεχωρήθη ἡ ἀπόλαυσις.

Contrast that with how relaxation from running, or taking a break from aging, actually makes you more miserable. But, you say, it is more fitting that those who are sick eat well, rather than a plain diet. However, the ability that governs the animal takes care of it through a plain diet and produces contentedness, and it learns to like being nourished. But if an animal is given expensive, exotic foods, it won’t be satisfied in the end, and may even get all kinds of diseases.

5. But let the word walk you through history, passing through the antiquity of fasting. All the saints have protected it, like an inheritance passed down from the fathers. They in turn passed it down, like a father passing something down to a child. So we are the successors of this long line, and this possession has been entrusted to us.

Wine wasn’t in paradise; there was not yet any slaughtering of animals, not yet any eating of meat. After the flood there was wine. After the flood, “you will eat all kinds of things, like you eat vegetables that grow from the ground.”757 When perfection was despaired, then the enjoyment of those things was allowed.

Δεῖγμα δὲ τῆς τοῦ οἴνου ἀπειρίας Νῶε ἀγνοῶν τοῦ οἴνου τὴν χρῆσιν. Οὔπω γὰρ εἰς τὸν βίον παρεληλύθει, οὐδ᾿ ἐτέτριπτο ἐν τῇ συνηθείᾳ τῇ τῶν ἀνθρῶπων. Οὔτε οὖν ἄλλον τεθεαμένος, οὔτε αὐτὸς πειραθεὶς, τῇ ἀπ᾿ αὐτοῦ βλάβῃ περιέπεσεν ἀφυλάκτως: ᾿Εφύτευσε γὰρ ἄμπελον Νῶε, καὶ ἔπιεν ἀπὸ τοῦ καρποῦ, καὶ ἐμεθύσθη, οὐχὶ τῷ πάροινος εἶναι, ἀλλὰ τῷ ἄπειρος εἶναι τῶν μέτρων τῆς μεταλήψεως. Οὕτω νεαρῶτερον παραδείσου τὸ εὕρημα τῆς οἰνοποσίας, καὶ οὕτως ἀρχαῖον τὸ τῆς νηστείας σεμνόν. ᾿Αλλὰ καὶ Μωϋσέα διὰ νηστείας ἔγνωμεν προσβαλόντα τῷ ὄρει. Οὐ γὰρ ἂν κατετόλμησε καπνιζομένης τῆς κορυφῆς, οὐδ᾿ ἂν ἐθάρσησεν εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὸν γνόφον, εἰ μὴ νηστείᾳ καθῶπλιστο. Διὰ νηστείας τὴν ἐντολὴν ὑπεδέξατο δακτύλῳ Θεοῦ γραφεῖσαν ἐν ταῖς πλαξί. Καὶ ἄνω μὲν ἡ νηστεία νομοθεσίας πρόξενος ἦν, κάτω δὲ ἡ γαστριμαργία εἰς εἰδωλολατρείαν ἐξέμηνεν: ᾿Εκάθισε γὰρ ὁ λαὸς φαγεῖν καὶ πιεῖν, καὶ ἀνέστησαν παίζειν. Τεσσαράκοντα ἡμερῶν προσεδρίαν νηστεύοντος καὶ δεομένου τοῦ θεράποντος ἄχρηστον ἀπέδειξεν οἰνοφλυγία μία.

Now the wine is an example of inexperience, as Noah was ignorant of the use of wine. For it had not yet come into use in life, neither been known in human custom. Since he had neither seen another do it, nor tried it himself, he was unguardedly hurt by it. “For Noah planted a vineyard, and he drank from the fruit, and he got drunk.”758 He wasn’t out-of-control drunk, he just wasn’t aware of the potent thing he was consuming.

So the invention of wine drinking is younger than paradise, and the dignity of fasting is established as being even more ancient. But we have also been taught about the fasting of Moses when he came onto the mountain. He wouldn’t have boldly faced the smoking summit, neither would he have had the courage to enter into the thick cloud, if he hadn’t been completely armed with fasting.759 Through fasting he received the commandments from the finger of God written on the tablets.

And while up above the divine law was being received with fasting, down below gluttony was disgorging itself into idolatry. “For the people sat down to eat and drink, and they got up to play.”760 Forty days devoted to fasting and waiting were made useless by one bout of drunkenness.

῝Ας γὰρ ἡ νηστεία ἔλαβε πλάκας δακτύλῳ Θεοῦ γεγραμμένας, ταύτας ἡ μέθη συνέτριψεν, οὐκ ἄξιον κρίναντος τοῦ προφήτου μεθύοντα λαὸν νομοθετεῖσθαι παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ. ᾿Εν μιᾷ καιροῦ ῥοπῇ διὰ γαστριμαργίας ὁ λαὸς ἐκεῖνος ὁ τὸν Θεὸν διὰ τῶν μεγίστων τεραστίων δεδιδαγμένος, εἰς τὴν Αἰγυπτίων εἰδωλομανίαν ἐξεκυλίσθη. Παράλληλα θὲς ἀμφότερα: πῶς νηστεία Θεῷ προσάγει, 31.172 καὶ πῶς τρυφὴ τὴν σωτηρίαν προδίδωσι. Κατάβα ὁδῷ βαδίζων ἐπὶ τὰ κάτω.

6. Τί τὸν ῾Ησαῦ ἐβεβήλωσε, καὶ δοῦλον ἐποίησε τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ; Οὐ βρῶσις μία, δι᾿ ἢν ἀπέδοτο τὰ πρωτοτόκια; Τὸν δὲ Σαμουὴλ οὐχ ἡ μετὰ νηστείας προσευχὴ ἐχαρίσατο τῇ μητρί; Τί τὸν μέγαν ἀριστέα τὸν Σαμψὼν ἀκαταγῶνιστον ἀπειργάσατο; Οὐχ ἡ νηστεία, μεθ' η ς ἐν τῇ γαστρὶ τῆς μητρὸς συν ελήφθη; Νηστεία αὐτὸν ἐκύησε: νηστεία αὐτὸν ἐτι θηνήσατο: νηστεία αὐτὸν ἤνδρωσεν, ἣν ὁ ἄγγελος διετάξατο τῇ μητρί: Οσα ἐκπορεύεται ἐξ ἀμπέλου, οὐ μὴ φάγῃ, καὶ οἶνον καὶ σίκερα οὐ μὴ πίῃ.

Fasting received the tablets written by finger of God, but drunkenness shattered them. The drunken crowd was judged unworthy to receive the divine law from the prophet of God. In one moment of time those people, who had been taught by the greatest miracle of God, were dragged off into Egyptian idolatry by their gluttonous inclination. Both of the arrangements are parallel— how fasting brings near to God, [31.172] and how luxury betrays salvation.

Come walk on down to later times.

6. What did Esau throw away, and so was made a slave of his brother? Didn’t he sell his rights as first-born for a single meal?761 By contrast, wasn’t it with fasting and prayer that Hannah was favored to become the mother of Samuel?762

What great meal brought into being the invincible Samson? Wasn’t it fasting, with which he was conceived in the womb of his mother?763 Fasting conceived him, fasting nursed him, fasting made a man of him. The angel commanded his mother, “He must certainly not eat anything that comes from the vineyard, and he must certainly not drink wine or liquor.”764

Νηστεία προφήτας γεννᾷ, δυνατοὺς ῥῶννυσι: νηστεία νομοθέτας σοφίζει, ψυχῆς ἀγαθὸν φυλακτήριον, σῶματι σύνοικος ἀσφαλὴς, ὅπλον ἀριστεύουσιν, ἀθληταῖς γυμνάσιον. Τοῦτο πειρασμοὺς ἀπο κρούεται, τοῦτο ἀλείφει πρὸς εὐσέβειαν, νήψεως σύνοικος, σωφροσύνης δημιουργός. ᾿Εν πολέμοις ἀνδραγαθεῖ, ἐν εἰρήνv ἡσυχίαν διδάσκει. Τὸν Ναζιραῖον ἁγιάζει, τὸν ἱερέα τελειοῖ. Οὐ γὰρ δυνατὸν ἄνευ νηστείας ἱερουργῖας κατατολμῆσαι, οὐ μόνον ἐν τῇ μυστικῇ νῦν καὶ ἀληθινῇ λατρείᾳ, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν τῇ τυπικῇ τῇ κατὰ τὸν νόμον προσαγομένῃ. Αὕτη θεατὴν ἐποίησε τοῦ μεγάλου θεάματος τὸν ᾿Ηλίαν: τεσσαράκοντα γὰρ ἡμέραις νηστείᾳ τὴν ψυχὴν ἀποκαθάρας, οὕτως ἐν τῷ σπηλαίῳ τῷ ἐν Χωρὴβ ἰδεῖν κατηξιῶθη, ὡς δυνατόν ἐστιν ἰδεῖν ἀνθρῶπῳ, τὸν Κύριον. Νηστεύων ἀπέδωκε τῇ χήρᾳ τὸν παῖδα, ἰσχυρὸς φανεὶς κατὰ τοῦ θανάτου διὰ νηστείας. ᾿Απὸ νηστεύοντος στόματος φωνὴ ἐξελθοῦσα ἀπ έκλεισε τῷ παρανομοῦντι λαῷ τὸν οὐρανὸν τρία ἔτη καὶ μῆνας ἕξ. Ινα γὰρ μαλάξῃ τὴν ἀδάμαστον καρδίαν τῶν σκληροτραχήλων, εἵλετο καὶ ἑαυτὸν τῇ κακοπαθείᾳ συγκαταδικάσαι.

Fasting gives birth to prophets, shestrengthens the powerful.765 Fasting makes lawmakers wise. She is a safeguard of a soul, a stabilizing companion to the body, a weapon for the brave, a discipline for champions. Fasting knocks over temptations, anoints for godliness. She is a companion of sobriety, the crafter of a sound mind. In wars she fights bravely, in peace she teaches tranquility. She sanctifies the Nazirite, and she perfects the priest.

How the law was introduced is figurative for true, mystical worship. One is not able to boldly face the divine presence without fasting. It made Elijah an observer of that marvelous vision. His soul was purified by fasting forty days, so that in the cave on Mt. Horeb he was considered worthy to see the Lord like one sees a man.766

By fasting he returned the widow’s child to her—he became stronger than death through fasting!767 While fasting, a cry went out from his mouth that closed up the heavens for three years and six months from the lawbreaking people.768 In order that the unbroken heart of the stubborn might be softened, he himself also took on the suffering of being condemned.

Διὰ τοῦτο, Ζῇ Κύριος, ἔφη, εἰ ἔσται ὕδωρ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, εἰ μὴ διὰ στόματός μου. Καὶ ἐπήγαγε παντὶ τῷ λαῷ νηστείαν διὰ τοῦ λιμοῦ, ὥστε τὴν ἐκ τῆς τρυφῆς καὶ τοῦ ἀνειμένου βίου κακίαν ἐπανορθῶσασθαι. ῾Ελισσαίῳ δὲ ποταπὸς ὁ βίος; πῶς μὲν παρὰ τῇ Σουναμίτιδι τῆς ξενίας ἀπέλαυσε; πῶς δὲ αὐτὸς τοὺς προφήτας ἐδεχιοῦτο; Οὐχὶ λάχανα ἄγρια καὶ ἀλεύρου βραχὺ τὴν φιλοξενίαν ἐπλήρου; ὅτε, καὶ τῆς τολύπης συμπαραληφθείσης, κινδυνεύειν ἔμελλον οἱ ἁψάμενοι, εἰ μὴ τῇ εὐχῇ τοῦ νηστευτοῦ ἡμαυρῶθη 31.173 τὸ δηλητήριον. Καὶ ἁπαξαπλῶς εὕροις ἂν τὴν νηστείαν πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους εἰς τὴν κατὰ Θεὸν πολιτείαν χειραγωγήσασαν. ῍Εστι τις φύσις σῶματος, ἢν καλοῦσιν ἀμίαντον, ἀνάλωτος πυρὶ, ἥτις, ἐν μὲν τῇ φλογὶ κειμένη, ἀπηνθρακῶσθαι δοκεῖ, ἐξαιρεθεῖσα δὲ τοῦ πυρὸς, ὡς ὕδατι λαμπρυνθεῖσα, καθαρωτέρα γίνεται. Τοιαῦτα ἦν τὰ τῶν τριῶν παίδων ἐκείνων σῶματα ἐπὶ τῆς Βαβυλωνίας ἐκ τῆς νηστείας ἔχοντα τὸ ἀμίαντον. ᾿Εν γὰρ τῇ μεγάλῃ φλογὶ τῆς καμίνου, οἱονεὶ χρυσοῖ τὴν φύσιν ὄντες, οὕτω κρείττους τῆς ἀπὸ τοῦ πυρὸς διεδείκνυντο βλάβης.

On account of this he said, “As the Lord lives, there will not be water on the land, except through my mouth.”769 And he laid on all the people a fast through the famine, so that the evil effects from their self-indulgence and unrestrained life might be corrected.

And what about the life of Elisha? How from the lodging place of the Shunemite he was driven away?770 And how he himself entertained the prophets?771 Wasn’t he completely hospitable with wild vegetables and a little flour? When the poisonous gourd was added, those who had come in contact with it were about to be in danger. But the poison was neutralized by the prayer of fasting.

[31.173] Once fasting was discovered, all the saints were led by the hand into the divine way of life. There is a certain kind of substance, that the Greeks call amianton,772 that is impervious to fire. When it is placed in the flame, it seems to be made of coal, but when it comes up out of the fire, it is cleaner than if it had been washed in water. That’s what the bodies of those three children were like; they had bodies of amianton from fasting in Babylonia.773 For in the great fiery furnace, their nature being like gold, was then demonstrated to be superior when they were drawn from the fire unhurt.

῏Ηπου καὶ χρυσοῦ δυνατῶτεροι διεδείκνυντο: οὐ γὰρ ἐχῶνευεν αὐτοὺς τὸ πῦρ, ἀλλ᾿ ἐφύλασσεν ἀκεραίους. Καίτοι οὐδὲν ἂν ἐκείνην τότε τὴν φλόγα ὑπέστη, ἢν νάφθα καὶ πίσσα καὶ κληματίδες ἔτρεφον, ὡς ἐπὶ τεσσαρακονταεννέα πήχεις αὐτὴν διαχεῖσθαι, καὶ τὰ κύκλῳ αὐτῆς ἐπινεμομένην πολλοὺς τῶν Χαλδαίων εξαναλῶσαι. ᾿Εκείνην τοίνυν τὴν πυρκαϊὰν μετὰ νηστείας εἰσελθόντες κατεπάτουν οἱ παῖδες, λεπτὸν ἀέρα καὶ ἔνδροσον ἐν οὕτω λάβρῳ πυρὶ ἀναπνέοντες. Οὐδὲ γὰρ τῶν τριχῶν τὸ πῦρ κατετόλμησε, διὰ τὸ ὑπὸ νηστείας αὐτὰς ἐκτραφῆναι.

7. Δανιὴλ δὲ ὁ ἀνὴρ τῶν ἐπιθυμιῶν, ὁ τρεῖς ἑβδομάδας ἄρτον μὴ φαγὼν, καὶ ὕδωρ μὴ πιὼν, καὶ τοὺς λέοντας νηστεύειν ἐδίδαξε, κατελθὼν εἰς τὸν λάκκον. Ωσπερ γὰρ ἐκ λίθου ἢ χαλκοῦ, ἢ ἄλλης στεῥῥοτέρας τινὸς ὕλης συμπεπηγότι. ἐμβαλεῖν οὐκ εἶχον τοὺς ὀδόντας οἱ λέοντες. Οὕτως οἱονεὶ βαφὴ σιδήρου τὸ σῶμα τοῦ ἀνδρὸς ἡ νηστεία στομῶσασα, ἀδάμαστον ἐποίει τοῖς λέουσιν: οὐ γὰρ ἤνοιγον κατὰ τοῦ ἁγίου τὸ στόμα.

Here’s how their nature was demonstrated to be stronger than gold: the fire did not refine them, but simply preserved their sincerity. When they had not yet even been cast into the fire, the flames were being fed naphtha and pitch and branches, and they streamed out above the furnace forty-nine cubits, so that many of the Chaldeans standing near it were destroyed.774 Then, with fasting, when they were cast into the conflagration, they were able to walk around on their own feet, and they were breathing a little moistened air in the torrent of fire. And the fire didn’t even damage their hair, because they had been strengthened by fasting.

7. Now Daniel (fasted) from desire,775 and went without eating bread or drinking water for three weeks.776 And when he was thrown down in their den, he taught the lions to fast!777 When one material strikes another, one is harder than the other, like bronze is harder than stone. Just so, the lions weren’t able to sink their teeth into him. Fasting is like sharpening the edges of a man by dipping his body in iron—it makes him tougher than lions! They couldn’t open their mouths against the saint.

Νηστεία ἔσβεσε δύναμιν πυρὸς, ἔφραξε στόματα λεόντων. Νηστεία προσευχὴν εἰς οὐρανὸν ἀναπέμπει, οἱονεὶ πτερὸν αὐτῇ γινομένη πρὸς τὴν ἄνω πορείαν. Νηστεία οἴκων αὔξησις, ὑγείας μήτηρ, νεότητος παιδαγωγὸς, κόσμος πρεσβύταις, ἀγαθὴ συνέμπορος ὁδοιπόροις, ἀσφαλὴς ὁμόσκηνος τοῖς συνοίκοις. Οὐχ ὑποπτεύει γάμων ἐπιβουλὴν ὁ ἀνὴρ, νηστείαις ὁρῶν τὴν γυναῖκα συζῶσαν. Οὐ τήκεται ζηλοτυπίαις γυνὴ, τὸν ἄνδρα βλέπουσα νηστείαν καταδεχόμενον. Τίς τὸν ἑαυτοῦ οἶκον ἡλάττωσεν ἐν νηστείᾳ; ᾿Αρίθμησον 31.176 σήμερον τὰ ἔνδον, καὶ ἀρίθμησον μετὰ ταῦτα: οὐδὲν διὰ τὴν νηστείαν λείψει τῶν ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ. Οὐδὲν ζῶον ὀδύρεται θάνατον, οὐδαμοῦ αἶμα, οὐδαμοῦ ἀπόφασις παρὰ τῆς ἀπαραιτήτου γαστρὸς ἐκφερομένη κατὰ τῶν ζῶων. Πέπαυται μαγείρων ἡ μάχαιρα: ἡ τράπεζα ἀρκεῖται τοῖς αὐτομάτοις. Τὸ Σάββατον ἐδόθη τοῖς ᾿Ιουδαίοις, ἵνα ἀναπαύσηται, φησὶ, τὸ ὑποζύγιόν σου καὶ ὁ παῖς σου. Γινέσθω ἡ νηστεία ἀνάπαυσις ἐκ τῶν συνεχῶν πόνων τοῖς διὰ τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ παντὸς ὑπηρετοῦσιν οἰκέταις. ᾿

Fasting quenches the power of fire; it closes the mouths of lions. Fasting sends prayer up into heaven, becoming like wings for its upward journey. Fasting is the increase of houses, the mother of health. It’s an instructor of youth, an adornment to the old. It’s a good companion for traveling, a secure living companion to those dwelling together.

A husband doesn’t suspect a plot against his marriage, and lives in harmony with his wife when he sees her fasting. A wife doesn’t fall apart in jealousy, and happily accepts the husband she sees fasting.

Who makes his own house decline by fasting? [31.176] Count the domestic benefits by considering the following things. No one has been deserted by those in the house on account of fasting.778 There’s no crying over the death of an animal, certainly no blood. Certainly nothing is missed by not bringing an unmerciful stomach out against the creatures.

The knives of the cooks have stopped; the table is full enough with things growing naturally. The Sabbath was given to the Jews, so that “you will rest,” it says, “your animal and your child.”779 Fasting should become a rest for the household servants who slave away continually, all year long.

Ανάπαυσόν σου τὸν μάγειρον, δὸς ἄδειαν τῷ τραπεζοποιῷ: στῆσον τὴν χεῖρα τῷ οἰνοχόῳ: παυσάσθω ποτὲ καὶ ὁ τὰς ποικιλίας τῶν πεμμάτων ἐπιτηδεύων. ῾Ησυχασάτω ποτὲ καὶ ὁ οἶκος ἀπὸ τῶν μυρίων θορύβων, καὶ τοῦ καπνοῦ, καὶ τῆς κνίσσης, καὶ τῶν ἄνω καὶ κάτω διατρεχόντων, καὶ οἱονεὶ ἀπαραιτήτῳ δεσποίνῃ τῇ γαστρὶ λειτουργούντων. Πάντως ποτὲ καὶ οἱ φορολόγοι τοῖς ὑποχειρίοις ἐλευθεριάσαι μικρὸν ἐπιτρέπουσι. Δότω τινὰ ἐκεχειρίαν καὶ ἡ γαστὴρ τῷ στόματι, σπεισάσθω ἡμῖν πενθημέρους σπονδὰς, ἡ ἀεὶ ἀπαιτοῦσα καὶ οὐδέποτε λήγουσα, ἡ λαμβάνουσα σήμερον καὶ αὔριον ἐπιλανθανομένη. Οταν ἐμπλησθῇ, περὶ ἐγκρατείας φιλοσοφεῖ: ὅταν διαπνευσθῇ, ἐπιλανθάνεται τῶν δογμάτων.

8. Νηστεία δανείου φύσιν οὐκ οἶδεν: οὐκ ὄζει τόκων τράπεζα τοῦ νηστεύοντος: οὐκ ἄγχουσιν ὀρφανὸν νηστευτοῦ παῖδα τόκοι πατρῷοι, ὥσπερ ὄφεις περι πλεκόμενοι. Καὶ ἄλλως δὲ ἀφορμὴ εἰς εὐφροσύνην ἐστὶ τὸ νηστεύειν.

Give rest to your cook, give freedom to the table keeper, stay the hand of the cupbearer. For once put an end to all those manufactured meals! Let the house be still for once from the myriad disturbances, and from the smoke, and from the odor of burning fat, and from the running around up and down, and from serving the stomach as if it were an unmerciful mistress!

Even those who exact tribute sometimes give a little liberty to their subjects. The stomach should also give a vacation to the mouth! It should make a truce, a peace offering with us for five days.780 That stomach never stops demanding, and what it takes in today is forgotten tomorrow. Whenever it is filled, it philosophizes about abstinence; whenever it is emptied, it forgets those opinions.

8. Fasting doesn’t know the nature of usury. The one who fasts doesn’t smell of interest tables.781 The interest rates of fasting don’t choke an orphan child’s inheritance, like snakes curled around a neck. Quite otherwise, fasting is an occasion for gladness.


῾Ως γὰρ ἡ δίψα ἡδὺ τὸ ποτὸν εὐτρεπίζει, καὶ λιμὸς ἡγησάμενος ἡδεῖαν παρα σκευάζει τὴν τράπεζαν: οὕτω καὶ τὴν τῶν βρωμάτων ἀπόλαυσιν νηστεία φαιδρύνει. Μέσην γὰρ ἑαυτὴν παρενθεῖσα, καὶ τὸ συνεχὲς τῆς τρυφῆς διακόψασα, ποθεινήν σοι τὴν μετάληψιν φανῆναι ποιήσει ὥσπερ ἀπόδημον. Ωστε, εἰ βούλει σεαυτῷ ἐπιθυμητὴν κατασκευάσαι τὴν τράπεζαν, δέξαι τὴν ἐκ τῆς νηστείας μεταβολήν. Σὺ δὲ, ὑπὸ τοῦ σφόδρα τῆς τρυφῆς περιέχεσθαι, λέληθας σεαυτῷ ἀμαυρῶν τὴν τρυφὴν, καὶ ὑπὸ φιληδονίας τὴν ἡδονὴν ἀφανίζων. Οὐδὲν γὰρ οὕτως ἐπιθυμητὸν, ὡς μὴ τῇ συνεχείᾳ τῆς ἀπολαύσεως εὐκαταφρόνητον γίνεσθαι. Ων δὲ σπανία ἡ κτῆσις, τούτων περισπούδαστος ἡ ἀπόλαυσις. Οὕτω καὶ ὁ κτίσας ἡμᾶς, διὰ τῆς κατὰ τὸν βίον ἐναλλαγῆς παραμένειν ἡμῖν τὴν χάριν τῶν δεδομένων ἐμηχανήσατο. Οὐχ ὁρά'ς, ὅτι καὶ ἥλιος φαιδρότερος μετὰ τὴν νύκτα; καὶ ἐγρή- 31.177 γορσις ἡδίων μετὰ τὸν ὕπνον; καὶ ὑγεία ποθεινοτέρα μετὰ τὴν πεῖραν τῶν ἐναντίων; Καὶ τράπεζα τοίνυν χαριεστέρα μετὰ τὴν νηστείαν: ὁμοίως μὲν πλουσίοις καὶ εὐτραπέζοις, ὁμοίως δὲ τοῖς λιτοῖς καὶ αὐτοσχεδίοις τὴν δίαιταν.

As thirst makes the water sweet,782 and coming to the table hungry makes what’s on it seem pleasant, so also fasting heightens the enjoyment of foods. For once fasting has entered deep into your being, and the continuous delight of it has broken through, it will give you a desire that makes you feel like a traveler who wants to come home for fellowship again. Therefore, if you would like to find yourself prepared to enjoy the pleasures of the table, receive renewal from fasting.

But, if you are overcome by the excess of delights, without knowing yourself the unseen delights, by the love of pleasure the real pleasure is ruined.

That’s not really desirable, because if the enjoyment doesn’t last, it comes to be despised. But possessions that are rare are much sought after for their enjoyment. So, too, this possession of fasting intends to bring about an exchange in our life, so that the grace of what has been given to us might remain with us.

Don’t you see, that also the sun shines more brightly after the night? [31.177] And being awake is more pleasant after sleep? And health is more desirable after the experience of the opposite? A table is for that very reason more gratifying after fasting. It’s like that both for the rich who live graciously, and for those with a simple and subsistence lifestyle.

9. Φοβήθητι τὸ ὑπόδειγμα τοῦ πλουσίου. ᾿Εκεῖνον παρέδωκε τῷ πυρὶ ἡ διὰ βίου τρυφή. Οὐ γὰρ ἀδικίαν, ἀλλὰ τὸ ἁβροδίαιτον ἐγκληθεὶς, ἀπετηγανίζετο ἐν τῇ φλογὶ τῆς καμίνου. Ινα τοίνυν σβέσωμεν ἐκεῖνο τὸ πῦρ, ὕδατος χρεία. Καὶ οὐ πρὸς τὰ μέλλοντα μόνον ω© φέλιμος ἡ νηστεία, ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτῇ τῇ σαρκὶ λυσιτελεστέρα. Αἱ γὰρ εἰς ἄκρον εὐεξίαι ὑποστροφὰς ἔχουσι καὶ μεταπτῶσεις, ὀκλαζούσης τῆς φύσεως, καὶ ἀναφέρειν τὸ βάρος τῆς εὐεξίας ἀδυνατούσης. Ορα μὴ, νῦν διαπτύων τὸ ὕδωρ, ὕστερον ῥανίδος ἐπιθυμήσῃς, ὡς καὶ ὁ πλούσιος. Οὐδεὶς ἐκραιπάλησεν ἀπὸ ὕδατος. Οὐδενὸς κεφαλὴ ω© δυνήθη ποτὲ ὕδατι βαρηθεῖσα. Οὐδεὶς ἀλλοτρίων ποδῶν ἐδεήθη, ὑδροποσίᾳ συζῶν. Οὐδενὸς ἐδέθησαν πόδες, οὐδενὸς χεῖρες ἀπηχρειῶθησαν, ὕδατι καταρδόμεναι. Τὸ γὰρ περὶ τὴν πέψιν πλημμελὲς, ὂ τοῖς τρυφῶσιν ἀναγκαίως ἀκολουθεῖ, τοῦτο τὰ σφοδρὰ νοσήματα τοῖς σῶμασιν ἐνεργάζεται.

9. You should be afraid of the example of the rich man.783 That which is delightful throughout life cast him into the fire. It wasn’t unrighteousness, but delicate living that accused him, roasted him in the flames of the furnace. So for that reason, it is necessary that we have water to extinguish that fire.

We ought not fast only because of what is going to happen, but in this flesh it is even more profitable. Those at the peak of health can have a turnaround and change, their natures get bent down, and they are no longer able to carry the burden of full health.

See to it that you don’t go spitting on the water you’re drinking now, and like the rich man,784 afterward you desire a single drop.785 No one ever got a hangover from water. No head ever ached because it was burdened with water. No one’s feet were ever bound by living with another who was a water drinker.786 No feet were bound, no hands ruined, because they were sprinkled with water.

It necessarily happens that those living luxuriously are working toward excessive diseases in their bodies, and their dissonance ripens for destruction.

Νηστεύοντος σεμνὸν τὸ χρῶμα, οὐκ εἰς ἐρύθημα ἀναιδὲς ἐχανθοῦν, ἀλλ᾿ ὡχρότητι σῶφρονι κεκοσμημένον: ὀφθαλμὸς πραὺ>ς, κατεσταλμένον βάδισμα, πρόσωπον σύννουν, ἀκολάστῳ γέλωτι μὴ καθ υβριζόμενον, συμμετρία λόγου, καθαρότης καρδίας. Μνήσθητι τῶν ἀπ' αἰῶνος ἁγίων, ῟Ων οὐκ ἦν ἄχιος ὁ κόσμος, οἳ περιῆλθον ἐν μηλωταῖς, ἐν αἰγείοις δέρμασιν, ὑστερούμενοι, θλιβόμενοι, κακουχούμενοι: ἐκείνων μίμησαι τὴν ἀναστροφὴν, εἴπερ ἐπι ζητεῖς αὐτῶν τὴν μερίδα. Τί τὸν Λάζαρον ἐνανέπαυσε τοῖς κόλποις τοῦ ᾿Αβραάμ; Οὐχὶ νηστεία; ᾿Ιωάννου δὲ ὁ βίος μία νηστεία ἦν: ὂς οὐ κλίνην εἶχεν, οὐ τράπεζαν, οὐ γῆν ἀροσίμην, οὐκ ἀροτῆρα βοῦν, οὐ σῖτον, οὐ σιτοποιὸν, οὐκ ἄλλο τι τῶν κατὰ τὸν βίον. Διὰ τοῦτο Μείζων ἐν γεννητοῖς γυναικῶν οὐκ ἀνέστη ᾿Ιωάννου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ. Παῦλον μετὰ τῶν ἄλλων καὶ ἡ νηστεία, ἢν ἐν τοῖς ὑπὲρ τῶν θλίψεων καυχήμασιν ἀπηριθμήσατο, εἰς τὸν τρίτον οὐρανὸν ἀνήγαγε.

One fasting has a healthy complexion, not breaking out in a shameless, blushing redness, but moderation is adorned with paleness. One fasting has a gentle eye, a calm gait, and a thoughtful face. There is no intemperate, arrogant laughter, but rather fitting speech, and purity of heart.

Remember the saints of old, “Of whom the world was not worthy, who went around in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, persecuted, mistreated.”787 Remember their mode of life, if indeed you are seeking after the same inheritance as them.

What was it that caused Lazarus to wake up in the bosom of Abraham? Wasn’t it fasting?788 John’s life was one of fasting. He had no bed, no table, no fruitful piece of land, no plowing ox, no grain, no grinding and baking, nothing from the normal course of life.789 Because of this, “No one born of women has arisen greater than John the Baptist.”790

Like the others, fasting also marked Paul, who considered severe trials something to boast about, and he was caught up into the third heaven.791

Κεφάλαιον δὲ ἐπὶ τοῖς εἰρημένοις, ὁ Κύριος ἡμῶν νηστείᾳ τὴν σάρκα, ἢν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἀν έλαβεν, ὀχυρῶσας, οὕτως ἐν αὐτῇ τοῦ διαβόλου τὰς προσβολὰς ὑπεδέξατο, ἡμᾶς τε παιδεύων νηστείαις ἀλείφειν καὶ παιδοτριβεῖν ἑαυτοὺς πρὸς τοὺς ἐν τοῖς πειρασμοῖς ἀγῶνας, καὶ τῷ ἀντιπάλῳ διὰ τῆς ἐνδείας οἶον λαβὴν ἐνδιδούς. ᾿Απρόσιτος γὰρ ἦν αὐτῷ διὰ τὸ ὕψος τῆς θεότητος, εἰ μὴ διὰ τῆς ἐνδείας ὑπέβη πρὸς τὸ ἀνθρῶπινον. ᾿Επανιὼν μέντοι εἰς οὐρανοὺς, τροφῆς ἥψατο, τὴν φύσιν τοῦ σῶματος τοῦ ἀναστάντος 31.180 πιστούμενος. Σὺ δὲ ὑπερπιαίνων μὲν σεαυτὸν καὶ κατασαρκῶν οὐκ ἀνίης; ἐκτήκων δὲ τὸν νοῦν ἐν ἀτροφίᾳ, τῶν σωτηρίων καὶ ζωοποιῶν διδαγμάτων οὐδένα λόγον ποιῇ; ]Η ἀγνοεῖς, ὅτι, ὥσπερ ἐπὶ παρατάξεως ἡ τοῦ ἑτέρου συμμαχία ἧτταν ποιεῖ τοῦ ἑτέρου, οὕτως ὁ τῇ σαρκὶ προσθέμενος τὸ πνεῦμα καταγωνίζεται, καὶ ὁ πρὸς τὸ πνεῦμα μεταταχάμενος καταδουλοῦται τὴν σάρκα; Ταῦτα γὰρ ἀλλήλοις ἀντίκειται. Ωστε, εἰ βούλει ἰσχυρὸν ποιῆσαι τὸν νοῦν, δάμασον τὴν σάρκα διὰ νηστείας.

But above all that has been said, our Lord took flesh and fortified it with fasting on behalf of us. Then in that condition he welcomed the assault of the devil,792 teaching us to anoint and to train ourselves with fastings before struggling with temptations. So when he was wrestling in a state of need, an opportunity was given. The devil was not able to approach the Lord on account of the supernatural nature of his divinity, unless he came down to humanity through the state of need. However, when he had gone back into the heavens,793 he partook of the food of the nature of the resurrected body of the believer.

[31.180] Doesn’t it grieve you, that you are overgrown and fattened up? While the mind is wasting away of atrophy, not even a single word is spoken about the life-giving teaching of salvation? Don’t you know, that just like when one army defeats the other, the flesh is handed over to the conquering spirit, and the spirit is changing the rank of the flesh to slavery? “These things are adversaries of each other.”794 So if you want to make the mind strong, tame the flesh through fasting!

Τοῦτο γάρ ἐστιν ὅ φησιν ὁ ᾿Απόστολος, ὅτι ὅσον ὁ ἔξωθεν ἄνθρωπος διαφθείρεται, τοσοῦτον ὁ ἔσωθεν ἀνακαινοῦται: καὶ τό: Οταν ἀσθενῶ, τότε δυνατός εἰμι. Οὐ καταφρονήσεις τῶν φθειρομένων βρωμάτων; οὐκ ἐπιθυμίαν λήψῃ τῆς ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τραπέζης, ἢν πάντως ἡ ἐνθάδε νηστεία προευτρεπίσει; ᾿Αγνοεῖς τῇ ἀμετρίᾳ τοῦ κόρου παχὺν σεαυτῷ τὸν βασανιστὴν κατασκευάζων σκῶληκα; Τίς γὰρ ἐν τροφῇ δαψιλεῖ καὶ τρυφῇ διηνεκεῖ ἐδέξατό τινα κοινωνίαν χαρίσματος πνευματικοῦ; Μωϋσῆς, δευτέραν λαμβάνων νομοθεσίαν, δευτέρας νηστείας προσεδεήθη. Νινευί>ταις εἰ μὴ καὶ τὰ ἄλογα συνενήστευσεν, οὐκ ἂν διέφυγον τὴν ἀπειλὴν τῆς καταστροφῆς. Τίνων ἔπεσε τὰ κῶλα ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ; Οὐ τῶν κρεωφαγίαν ἐπιζητούντων; ᾿Εκεῖνοι, ἕως μὲν ἡρκοῦντο τῷ μάννα καὶ τῷ ἐκ τῆς πέτρας ὕδατι, Αἰγυπτίους ἐνίκων, διὰ θαλάσσης ὥδευον: Οὐκ ἦν ἐν ταῖς φυλαῖς αὐτῶν ὁ ἀσθενῶν: ἐπειδὴ δὲ ἐμνήσθησαν τῶν κρεῶν τῶν λεβήτων, καὶ ἐστράφησαν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις εἰς Αἴγυπτον, οὐκ εἶδον τὴν γῆν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας. Οὐ φοβῇ τὸ ὑπόδειγμα; οὐ φρίσσεις τὴν ἀδηφαγίαν, μήπου σε τῶν ἐλπιζομένων ἀγαθῶν ἀποκλείσῃ; ᾿

Αλλ᾿ οὐδ᾿ ἂν ὁ σοφὸς Δανιὴλ τὰς ὀπτασίας εἶδεν, εἰ μὴ νηστείᾳ διαυγεστέραν ἐποίησε τὴν ψυχήν. ᾿Εκ γὰρ τῆς παχείας τροφῆς οἷον αἰθαλῶδεις ἀναθυμιάσεις ἀναπεμπόμεναι, νεφέλης δίκην πυκνῆς, τὰς ἀπὸ τοῦ ἁγίου Πνεύματος ἐγγινομένας ἐλλάμψεις ἐπὶ τὸν νοῦν διακόπτουσιν. Εἰ δὲ καὶ ἀγγέλων ἐστί τις τροφὴ, ἄρτος ἐστὶν, ὥς φησιν ὁ προφήτης: ῍Αρτον ἀγγέλων ἔφαγεν ἄνθρωπος: οὐ κρέα, οὐδὲ οἶνος, οὐδὲ ὅσα τοῖς δούλοις τῆς γαστρὸς διεσπούδασται. Νηστεία ὅπλον ἐστὶ πρὸς τὴν κατὰ τῶν δαιμόνων στρατιάν: Τοῦτο γὰρ τὸ γένος οὐκ ἐξέρχε- 31.181 ται εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ καὶ νηστείᾳ. Καὶ τὰ μὲν ἐκ τῆς νηστείας ἀγαθὰ τοσαῦτα: ὁ δὲ κόρος ὕβρεων ἀρχή. Εὐθὺς γὰρ συνεισπίπτει τῇ τρυφῇ καὶ τῇ μέθῃ καὶ ταῖς παντοδαπαῖς καρυκείαις πᾶν εἶδος ἀκολασίας βοσκηματῶδους. ῍Ενθεν ἵπποι θηλυμανεῖς οἱ ἄνθρωποι διὰ τὸν ἐκ τῆς τρυφῆς οἶστρον ἐγγινόμενον τῇ ψυχῇ. Παρὰ τῶν μεθυόντων αἱ τῆς φύσεως ἐναλλαγαὶ, ἐν ἄῥῥενι μὲν τὸ θῆλυ, ἐν δὲ τῷ θήλει τὸ ἄῥῥεν ἐπιζητούντων.

This is what the apostle said, that “however much the outer man is wasting away, so much the inner man is being renewed.”795 And this: “Whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”796

Won’t you despise destructive foods? Wouldn’t you rather receive a desire for the table in the kingdom, that fasting here prepares beforehand? Don’t you know that by excessive filling you are preparing for yourself a fat worm to torture you?

Who has received anything of the fellowship of the spiritual gifts by abundant food and continual luxury? Moses, when receiving the law a second time, needed to fast a second time, too.797 If the animals hadn’t fasted together with the Ninevites, they wouldn’t have escaped the threatened destruction.798

Whose bodies fell in the desert?799 Wasn’t it those who desired to eat flesh?800 While those same people were satisfied with manna and water from the rock, they were defeating Egyptians, they were traveling through the sea, and “sickness could not be found in their tribes.”801 But when they remembered the pots of meat, they also turned back in their lusts to Egypt, and they did not see the Promised Land.802 Don’t you fear this example? Don’t you shudder at gluttony, lest you be shut out from the good things you are hoping for?

Neither would the wise Daniel have seen visions, if he had not illuminated his soul with fasting. From fatty foods what sooty vapors rise up, like a frequent, punishing cloud! The rays from the presence of the Holy Spirit can barely penetrate it to shine on the mind.

Now if there is even a certain kind of food for angels, it is bread, as the prophet says: “Man ate the bread of angels.”803 It’s neither flesh, nor wine, nor whatever those who are slaves to the stomach anxiously seek out.

Fasting is a weapon against the armies of demons: “For this kind doesn’t go out [31.181] except by prayer and fasting.”804

From fasting come so many good things, but fullness is the beginning of insolence. Immediately it rushes in together with the delicacy, and with drunkenness, and with all kinds of rich sauces. All kinds of licentious behaviors start grazing. After that, men become “lusty horses”805 toward women, because the luxury makes a maddening itch enter into the soul. Those who are drunks pervert themselves against nature, using a male like a female, or vice-versa.806

Νηστεία δὲ καὶ γαμικῶν ἔργων μέτρα γνωρίζει, καὶ τῶν ἐκ νόμου συγκεχωρημένων τὴν ἀμετρίαν κολάζουσα, σύμφωνον σχολὴν ἐμποιεῖ, ἵνα παραμείνωσι τῇ προσευχῇ.

10. Μὴ μέντοι ἐν τῇ ἀποχῇ μόνη τῶν βρωμάτων τὸ ἐκ τῆς νηστείας ἀγαθὸν ὁρίζου. Νηστεία γὰρ ἀληθὴς ἡ τῶν κακῶν ἀλλοτρίωσις. Λύε πάντα σύνδεσμον ἀδικίας: ἄφες τῷ πλησίον τὴν λύπην: ἄφες αὐτῷ τὰ ὀφλήματα. Μὴ εἰς κρίσεις καὶ μάχας νηστεύετε. Κρεῶν οὐκ ἐσθίεις, ἀλλ᾿ ἐσθίεις τὸν ἀδελφόν. Οἴνου ἀπέχῃ, ἀλλ᾿ ὕβρεων οὐ κρατεῖς. Τὴν ἑσπέραν ἀναμένεις εἰς μετάληψιν, ἀλλὰ δαπανᾷς τὴν ἡμέραν εἰς δικαστήρια. Οὐαὶ οἱ μεθύοντες, οὐκ ἀπὸ οἴνου. Θυμὸς μέθη ἐστὶ τῆς ψυχῆς, ἔκφρονα αὐτὴν ποιῶν ὡς ὁ οἶνος. Λύπη μέθη ἐστὶ καὶ αὐτὴ, καταβαπτίζουσα τὴν διάνοιαν. Φόβος ἑτέρα μέθη, ὅταν ἐφ᾿ ἃ μὴ δεῖ γένηται: ᾿Απὸ φόβου γὰρ, φησὶν, ἐχθροῦ ἐξελοῦ τὴν ψυχήν μου. Καὶ ὅλως ἕκαστον τῶν παθημάτων, ἐκστατικὸν διανοίας ὑπάρχον, μέθη ἂν δικαίως προσαγορεύοιτο. ᾿Εννόησόν μοι τὸν ὀργιζόμενον ὅπως μεθύει τῷ πάθει.

But fasting even makes known how the proper boundaries of marriage work. The excesses of even things permitted by law are curtailed, introduced by agreement for an appropriate time, in order that the couple might be devoted to prayer.807

10. But don’t limit the goodness of fasting by abstaining only from foods. For true fasting is the enemy of evil. “Loose the chains of injustice!”808 Forgive your neighbor’s offense, and forgive his debts. Don’t “fast unto judgment and strife.”809 You don’t eat meat, but you eat your brother. You abstain from wine, but stubbornly hold on to insolence. You patiently wait until evening to partake, but you spend the day in court.

“Woe to those who are drunk, but not from wine!”810 Wrath is a drunkenness of the soul, making it senseless, like wine. Grief itself is also drunkenness, sinking down the mind. Fear is another drunkenness, whenever it fears things that don’t need to be feared. For he says, “from fear of my enemy, deliver my soul.”811 Together, each of these passions, allowing the mind to be taken over and out of control, is rightly termed drunkenness.

Consider with me the one who is angry, how he is drunk with passion.

Οὐκ ἔστιν αὐτὸς ἑαυτοῦ κύριος, ἀγνοεῖ ἑαυτὸν, ἀγνοεῖ τοὺς παρόντἀ: ὥσπερ ἐν νυκτομαχίᾳ πάντων ἅπτεται, πᾶσι προσπταίει: ἀταμίευτα φθέγγεται, δυσκάθεκτός ἐστι, λοιδορεῖται, τύπτει, ἀπειλεῖ, διόμνυται, βοᾷ, διαῥῥήγνυται. Φύγε ταύτην τὴν μέθην, μηδὲ τὴν διὰ τοῦ οἴνου προσδέξῃ. Μὴ προλάβvς πολυποσίᾳ τὴν ὑδροποσίαν. Μὴ μυσταγωγείτω σε ἐπὶ νηστείαν ἡ μέθη. Οὐκ ἔστι διὰ μέθης εἴσοδος εἰς νηστείαν: οὐδὲ γὰρ διὰ πλεονεξίας εἰς δικαιοσύνην, οὐδὲ δῖ ἀκολασίας εἰς σωφροσύνην, οὐδὲ, συλλήβδην εἰπεῖν, διὰ τῆς κακίας εἰς ἀρετήν. ῍Αλλη θύρα ἐπὶ νηστείαν. Μέθη εἰς ἀκολασίαν εἰσάγει, ἐπὶ νηστείαν αὐτάρκεια. ῾Ο ἀθλῶν προγυμνάζεται: ὁ νηστεύων προεγκρατεύεται. Μὴ ὡς ἀμυνόμενος τὰς ἡμέρας, μὴ ὡς κατα σοφιζόμενος τὸν νομοθέτην, τῶν πέντε ἡμερῶν τὴν κραιπάλην προαποτίθεσο. Καὶ γὰρ ἀνόνητα πο- 31.184 νεῖς, τὸ μὲν σῶμα συντρίβων, μὴ παραμυθούμενος δὲ τὴν ἔνδειαν. ῍Απιστόν ἐστι τὸ ταμεῖον, εἰς τετρημένον πίθον ἀντλεῖς. ῾Ο μὲν γὰρ οἶνος διαῥῥέει, τὴν ἰδίαν ὁδὸν ἀποτρέχων: ἡ δὲ ἁμαρτία ἐναπομένει.

He isn’t master of himself, he doesn’t know himself, and he doesn’t know who is standing around. He tries to hit everything, flailing all over, like somebody fighting in the dark. He declares that he is in control, he is hard to hold in, he reviles, he strikes, he threatens, he swears, he shouts, he curses.812

Guard against this kind of drunkenness, but don’t be given over to the kind that comes from wine, either. Don’t start being a water-drinker just because you’ve been drinking too much. Don’t let drunkenness initiate you into fasting. The entryway into fasting doesn’t come through drunkenness. Neither is greed the entryway into justice, nor is intemperance the way to sound judgment. To sum it up, evil never leads to virtue. There is another door into fasting. Drunkenness leads to intemperance, but contentment opens the door to fasting.

The athlete practices before the contest. The one who fasts is practicing self-control ahead of time. Don’t approach these five days like you are coming to rescue them as if they need you, or like somebody who is trying to get around the intent of the law, by just laying aside intoxication. [31.184] If you do that, you are suffering in vain. You are mistreating the body, but not relieving its need.

This safe where you keep your valuables isn’t secure; there are holes in the bottom of your wine-bottles.813 The wine at least leaks out, and runs down its own path; but sin remains inside.

Οἰκέτης δραπετεύει δεσπότην τύπτοντα: σὺ δὲ παραμένεις τῷ οἴνῳ καθ᾿ ἑκάστην ἡμέραν τὴν κεφαλήν σου τύπτοντι; Μέτρον ἄριστον τῆς τοῦ οἴνου χρήσεως ἡ χρεία τοῦ σῶματος. ᾿Εὰν δὲ ἔξω τῶν ὅρων γένῃ, αὔριον ἥξεις καρηβαρῶν, χασμῶμενος, ἰλιγγιῶν, σεσηπότος οἴνου ἀπόζων: πάντα σοι περιφέρεσθαι, πάντα δονεῖσθαι δόξει. Μέθη γὰρ ὕπνον μὲν ἐπάγει, ἀδελφὸν θανάτου, ἐγρήγορσιν δὲ ὀνείροις προσεοικυῖαν.

11. Αρα οἶδας τίς ἐστιν ὂν ὑποδέχεσθαι μέλλεἰ; ῾Ο ἐπαγγειλάμενος ἡμῖν, ὅτι ᾿Εγὼ καὶ ὁ Πατὴρ ἐλευσόμεθα, καὶ μονὴν παρ' αὐτῷ ποιήσομεν. Τί οὖν προλαμβάνεις τῇ μέθῃ, καὶ ἀποκλείεις τῷ Δεσπότῃ τὴν εἴσοδον; τί προτρέπῃ τὸν ἐχθρὸν προκατασχεῖν σου τὰ ὀχυρῶματα; Μέθη Κύριον οὐχ ὑποδέχεται: μέθη Πνεῦμα ἅγιον ἀποδιῶκει. Καπνὸς μὲν γὰρ ἀποδιῶκει μελίσσας, χαρίσματα δὲ πνευματικὰ ἀποδιῶκει κραιπάλη. Νηστεία πόλεως εὐσχημοσύνη, ἀγορᾶς εὐστάθεια, οἴκων εἰρήνη, σωτηρία τῶν ὑπαρχόντων. Βούλει αὐτῆς ἰδεῖν τὴν σεμνότητα;

A servant runs away from a master who beats him. So you keep staying with wine, even though it beats your head every day? The best measure of the use of wine is whether the body needs it. But if you happen to go outside of the bounds, tomorrow you will feel overloaded, gaping, dizzy, smelling rotten from the wine. To you, everything will be spinning around; everything will seem to be shaking. Drunkenness brings a sleep that’s a brother of death, but even being awake seems like being in a dream.

11. So, do you know whom you are about to receive? He who promised us, that “I myself, and the Father, we will come and make our home with him.”814 Why, then, would you get caught being drunk, and close the door against the Master? Why would you encourage the enemy to occupy your stronghold? Drunkenness doesn’t make the Lord feel welcome; drunkenness chases away the Holy Spirit. For as smoke drives away bees, intoxication drives away the spiritual gifts.

Fasting is the proper decorum of a city, stability of the marketplace, peace of homes, saving of possessions. Do you want to see its dignity?

Σύγκρινόν μοι τὴν σήμερον ἑσπέραν τῇ αὔριον, καὶ ὄψει τὴν πόλιν ἐκ ταραχῆς καὶ ζάλης εἰς γαλήνην βαθεῖαν μεταβαλοῦσαν. Εὔχομαι δὲ καὶ τὴν σήμερον τῇ αὔριον ἐοικέναι κατὰ τὴν σεμνότητα: καὶ τὴν αὔριον μηδὲν φαιδρότητι τῆς σήμερον ἀπολείπεσθαι. ῾Ο δὲ ἀγαγὼν ἡμᾶς εἰς τὴν περίοδον τοῦ χρόνου Κύριος παράσχοι ἡμῖν, οἶον ἀγωνισταῖς, εἰς τοὺς προαγῶνας τούτους τὸ στεῥῥὸν καὶ εὔτονον τῆς καρτερίας ἐπιδειξαμένους, φθάσαι καὶ ἐπὶ τὴν κυρίαν τῶν στεφάνων ἡμέραν: νῦν μὲν τῆς ἀναμνήσεως τοῦ σωτηρίου πάθους, ἐν δὲ τῷ μέλλοντι αἰῶνι τῆς ἀνταποδόσεως τῶν βεβιωμένων ἡμῖν ἐν τῇ δικαιοκρισίᾳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ, ὅτι αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας. ᾿Αμήν.

Compare with me today’s evening to tomorrow, and you will see the city changed from its raging, surging sea into a deep tranquility.815 But I pray, that both today might be like tomorrow in dignity, and tomorrow might leave none of today’s joyousness behind.

Now, may the Lord who brought us through to the coming around of the season, grant to us, as competitors in these preliminary contests, that we may display enduring firmness and vigor, to attain also the crowns on the decisive day; now, in memory of the saving passions, but in the coming ages, by the recompense to us of the things done in life, by the righteous judgment of his Christ; because the glory belongs to him forever! Amen.


31.185 About Fasting, Sermon 2.

Παρακαλεῖτε, φησὶν, ἱερεῖς, τὸν λαόν: λαλήσατε εἰς τὰ ὧτα ῾Ιερουσαλήμ. ῾Ικανὴ τοῦ λόγου ἡ φύσις τῶν μὲν σπουδαίων τὰς ὁρμὰς ἐπιτεῖναι, τῶν δὲ ῥᾳθύμων καὶ νωθρῶν ἐπεγεῖραι τὸ πρόθυμον. Οθεν στρατηγοὶ μὲν, εἰς παράταξιν τὸν στρατὸν καθιστῶντες, τοῖς παρακλητικοῖς λόγοις πρὸ τῶν ἀγῶνων κέχρηνται, καὶ τοσαύτην ἔχει δύναμιν ἡ παραίνεσις, ὥστε πολλοῖς καὶ θανάτου πολλάκις καταφρόνησιν ἐμποιεῖν: γυμνασταὶ δὲ καὶ παιδοτρίβαι, πρὸς τοὺς ἐν τοῖς σταδίοις ἀγῶνας τοὺς ἀθλοῦντας προσάγοντες, πολλὰ περὶ τοῦ χρῆναι πονεῖν ὑπὲρ τῶν στεφάνων διακελεύονται: ὥστε καὶ συνεπείσθησαν πολλοὶ τῇ περὶ τὴν νίκην φιλοτιμίᾳ τῶν σωμάτων ὑπεριδεῖν. Καὶ τοίνυν καὶ ἐμοὶ, τοὺς Χριστοῦ στρατιῶτας πρὸς τὸν κατὰ τῶν ἀοράτων ἐχθρῶν πόλεμον διατάσσοντι, καὶ τοὺς ἀθλητὰς τῆς εὐσεβείας ἐπὶ τοὺς τῆς δικαιοσύνης στεφάνους διὰ τῆς ἐγκρατείας παρασκευάζοντι, ἀναγκαῖος ὁ λόγος τῆς παρακλήσεως.

“Exhort the people, priests,” it says; “speak into the ears of Jerusalem.”816 The nature of that word “exhort” is enough to intensify the desires of the earnest, but also to stir to readiness those who are idle and careless.

That’s how commanders operate. They marshal the army into place, and give a speech before the battle is engaged. The exhortation has so much power that it often produces a disdain for death in many. Similarly, coaches and athlete trainers use exhortation. Before the games in the stadiums the athletes are brought forward, and they are given speeches that are full of how they have to exert themselves so they can win the crown. So by persuasion, many can be joined together in ambition for victory, even to the disregard of their own bodies.

And so it is now with me. The soldiers of Christ have been ordered to war against invisible enemies, and the athletes of godliness are preparing themselves for crowns of righteousness through self-control. So the word of exhortation is indispensable.

Τί οὖν φημι, ἀδελφοί; Οτι τοὺς μὲν τὰ τακτικὰ μελετῶντας, καὶ τοὺς ἐν παλαίστραις διαπονουμένους, ἀκόλουθόν ἐστι τῇ δαψιλείᾳ τῆς τροφῆς κατα σαρκοῦν ἑαυτοὺς, ὡς ἂν εὐτονῶτερον τῶν πόνων ἀντιλαμβάνοιντο: οἷς δὲ Οὐκ ἔστιν ἡ πάλη πρὸς αἷμα καὶ σάρκα, ἀλλὰ πρὸς τὰς ἀρχὰς, πρὸς τὰς ἐξουσίας, πρὸς τοὺς κοσμοκράτορας τοῦ σκότους τούτου, πρὸς τὰ πνευματικὰ τῆς πονηρίας, τούτοις διὰ τῆς ἐγκρατείας καὶ τῆς νηστείας ἀναγκαῖόν ἐστι τὸ πρὸς τὸν ἀγῶνα καταγυμνάζεσθαι. ῍Ελαιον μὲν γὰρ πιαίνει τὸν ἀθλητήν: νηστεία δὲ τὸν ἀσκητὴν τῆς εὐσεβείας κρατύνει. Ωστε ὅσον ὑφαιρεῖς τῆς σαρκὸς, τοσοῦ τον ποιήσεις τῆς πνευματικῆς εὐεξίας τὴν ψυχὴν ἀποστίλβειν. Οὐ γὰρ σωματικοῖς τόνοις, ἀλλὰ καρτερίᾳ ψυχῆς καὶ τῇ πρὸς τὰς θλίψεις ὑπομονῇ τὸ πρὸς τοὺς ἀοράτους ἐχθροὺς περιγίνεται κράτος.

2. ῍Εστι μὲν οὖν πάντα τὸν χρόνον ἡ νηστεία ω© φέλιμος τοῖς αἱρουμένοις αὐτὴν [ οὔτε γὰρ ἐπήρεια δαιμόνων κατατολμαῇ τοῦ νηστεύοντος, καὶ οἱ φύλακες τῆς ζωῆς ἡμῶν ἄγγελοι φιλοπονῶτερον παραμένουσι τοῖς διὰ νηστείας τὴν ψυχὴν κεκαθαρμένοἰ]:

So, what am I saying, brethren? I’m saying it makes sense that those who practice battle tactics, and those who work out in wrestling school, take in more food for their bodies the more strenuous the exertions are that they participate in. But, to those for whom “the struggle is not against blood and flesh, but against rulers, against authorities, against cosmic powers of this darkness, against spiritual forces of wickedness,”817 to these, it is absolutely necessary to be disciplined for struggle through self-control and fasting.

While oil bulks up the athlete, fasting is the strength-training of the godly. So whatever robs the flesh, of that you will make the soul shine818 with spiritual health. Power to overcome invisible enemies doesn’t come by bodily exertion, but by endurance of the soul. By patience trials are overcome.

2. Fasting is, therefore, useful all the time to those who take it up. (The abuse of demons can’t challenge the one who fasts, and the angels who guard our lives love working more when they stay beside those who have made the soul clean through fasting.)

πολλῷ δὲ πλέον νῦν, ὅτε εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμένην περιαγγέλλεται τὸ κήρυγμα. Καὶ οὔτε τις νῆσος, οὐκ ἤπειρος, οὐ πόλις, οὐκ ἔθνος, οὐκ ἐσχατιὰ ἀνήκοός ἐστι τοῦ κηρύγματος. ᾿Αλλὰ καὶ στρατόπεδα, καὶ ὀδοιπόροι, καὶ πλωτῆρες, καὶ ἔμποροι, πάντες ὁμοίως καὶ ἀκούουσι τοῦ παραγγέλματος, καὶ περιχαρῶς ὑποδέχονται. Ωστε μηδεὶς ἑαυτὸν ἔξω ποιείτω τοῦ καταλόγου. τῶν νηστευόντων, ἐν ᾧ πάντα γένη, καὶ πᾶσα ἡλικία, καὶ ἀξιωμάτων διαφοραὶ πᾶσαι καταλέγονται. ῍Αγγελοί εἰσιν οἱ καθ᾿ ἑκάστην ἐκκλησίαν 31.188 ἀπογραφόμενοι τοὺς νηστεύοντας. Ορα μὴ διὰ μικρὰν ἡδονὴν βρωμάτων ζημιωθῇς μὲν τὴν ἀπογραφὴν τοῦ ἀγγέλου, ὑπόδικον δὲ σαυτὸν λειποταξίου γραφῆς τῷ στρατολογήσαντι καταστήσῃς. ᾿Ελάττων ὁ κίνδυνος ῥίψασπιν ἐπὶ παρατάξεως ἀπελεγχθῆναί τινα, ἢ τὸ μέγα ὅπλον τὴν νηστείαν ἀποβαλόντα φανῆναι.

But now how much more, when all around the world the proclamation is being announced.819 There isn’t any island, land, city, nation, or remotest border where they haven’t heard of the proclamation. Even armies and travelers, all alike hear the announcement, and they are receiving it joyfully.

So no one should leave himself off the list! People of every race, of all ages, and all different ranks are counted among those who fast. The angels are writing down the names of those who fast in each church. [31.188] See to it that you don’t forfeit the angelic register through a little pleasurable food, and make yourself liable as a deserter, since you have been enlisted as a soldier by the scriptures.

The danger of the inexperienced soldier is that he will put down his shield when the battle is engaged. That’s something that must be thoroughly warned against. Don’t appear to be putting down the great weapon of fasting.

Πλούσιος εἶ; Μὴ καθυβρίσῃς τὴν νηστείαν, ἀπαξιῶσας λαβεῖν αὐτὴν ὁμοτράπεζον, μηδὲ τῆς οἰκίας σεαυτοῦ ἄτιμον ἀποπέμψῃ παρευημερηθεῖσαν ὑπὸ τῆς ἡδονῆς, μήποτέ σε καταγγείλῃ ἐπὶ τοῦ νομοθέτου τῶν νηστειῶν, καὶ πολλαπλασίονά σοι ἀπὸ καταδίκης ἐπαγάγῃ τὴν ἔνδειαν, ἢ ἐξ ἀῥῥωστίας σῶματος, ἢ ἐξ ἄλλης τινὸς σκυθρωπῆς περιστάσεως. ῾Ο πένης μὴ εἰρωνευέσθω πρὸς τὴν νηστείαν, πάλαι σύνοικον αὐτὴν καὶ ὁμοδίαιτον ἔχων. Γυναιξὶ δὲ, ὥσπερ τὸ ἀναπνεῖν, οὕτω καὶ τὸ νηστεύειν οἰκεῖόν ἐστι καὶ κατὰ φύσιν. Οἱ παῖδες, ὥσπερ τῶν φυτῶν τὰ εὐθαλῆ, τῷ τῆς νηστείας ὕδατι καταρδευέσθωσαν. Τοῖς πρεσβυτέροις κοῦφον ποιεῖ τὸν πόνον ἡ ἐκ παλαιοῦ πρὸς αὐτὴν οἰκείωσις: πόνοι γὰρ ἐκ μακρᾶς συνηθείας μελετηθέντες, ἀλυπότερον προσπίπτουσι τοῖς γεγυμνασμένοις. Τοῖς ὁδοιπόροις εὐσταλής ἐστι συνέμπορος ἡ νηστεία. Ωσπερ γὰρ ἡ τρυφὴ ἀχθοφορεῖν αὐτοὺς ἀναγκάζει, τὰς ἀπολαύσεις περικομίζον τας, οὕτω κούφους αὐτοὺς καὶ εὐζῶνους ἡ νηστεία παρασκευάζει.

Are you rich? Don’t insult the fast by refusing to eat at her820 table, as if she were unworthy of you. Don’t send her away from your house, when you have been happily living in pleasure, and never denying yourself in accord with the divine principle of fasting. If you do, your judgment will come many times over in times of want, or bodily sickness, or some other gloomy821 circumstances. The poor should not pretend to ignore fasting, because in the past she lived together with you, and you had things in common.

Now women, fasting is as natural for your household as breathing. Children are nourished by fasting, just like thriving plants are sprinkled with water. From old times people have taken on the practice of it for themselves, and for the old it has made work light. Habitually practiced labors become less painful for those who have been trained.

To those who are traveling, fasting is a favorable traveling partner. While luxury forces them to bear burdens by carrying their enjoyments around, fasting prepares them to be light and unencumbered.

Εἶτα, στρατείας μὲν ὑπερορίου προγραφείσης, τὰ ἀναγκαῖα, οὐχὶ τὰ πρὸς τρυφὴν, ἐπισιτίζονται στρατιῶται: ἡμῖν δὲ πρὸς τὸν κατὰ τῶν ἀοράτων ἐχθρῶν πόλεμον ἐξιοῦσι, καὶ μετὰ τὴν τούτων νίκην πρὸς τὴν ἄνω πατρίδα ἐπειγομένοις, οὐ πολλῷ μᾶλλον ἁρμόσει, ὥσπερ ἐπὶ στρατοπέδου διαιτωμένοις, αὐτοῖς ἀρκεῖσθαι τοῖς ἀναγκαίοις;

3. Κακοπάθησον ὡς καλὸς στρατιῶτης, καὶ ἄθλησον νομίμως, ἵνα στεφανωθῇς, ἐκεῖνο εἰδὼς, ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ἀγωνιζόμενος πάντα ἐγκρατεύεται. ῝Ο δέ με ὑπῆλθεν ἀρτίως λέγοντα, ἄξιον μὴ παριδεῖν: ὅτι τοῖς μὲν τοῦ κόσμου στρατιῶταις κατὰ τὴν τῶν καμάτων ἀναλογίαν τὸ σιτηρέσιον αὔξεται: τοῖς δὲ πνευματικοῖς ὁπλίταις ὁ τὸ ἔλαττον ἔχων τῆς τροφῆς τὸ μεῖζον ἔχει τοῦ ἀξιῶματος. ῾Ως γὰρ ἡ περικεφαλαία ἡμῶν παρήλλακται τὴν φύσιν πρὸς τὴν φθαρτήν: τῆς μὲν γὰρ ὕλη ἐστὶν ὁ χαλκὸς, ἡ δὲ ἐκ τῆς ἐλπίδος τοῦ σωτηρίου συνέστηκε: καὶ ὁ θυρεὸς ἐκείνοις μὲν ἐκ ξύλου καὶ βύρσης πεποίηται, ἡμῖν δὲ τὸ τῆς πίστεῶς ἐστι προβόλαιον: καὶ θῶρακι ἡμεῖς 31.189 μὲν τῷ τῆς δικαιοσύνης περιπεφράγμεθα, ἐκεῖνοι δὲ χιτῶνά τινα ἁλυσιδωτὸν περιφέρουσι: καὶ μάχαιρα ἡμῖν μὲν ἡ τοῦ πνεύματός ἐστι πρὸς ἄμυναν, οἱ δὲ τὴν ἐκ σιδήρου προβάλλονται:

When a foreign war has been proclaimed and soldiers have been conscripted, they aren’t furnished with luxuries. We have been sent out to war against invisible enemies. But after these victories we anticipate going to our home country up above. So isn’t it appropriate that we be fed like an army, content with the conscription?

3. “Endure suffering as a good soldier,”822 and contend lawfully, in order that you may be crowned. You know that “everyone who struggles is temperate in all things.”823

But someone will undermine me perfectly by saying something that shouldn’t be overlooked: that to those who are soldiers of the world, their provisions increase in proportion to their efforts. But on the contrary, to those who are heavily-armed spiritually, the less they have of food, the greater honor they have.

Our helmet contrasts with the perishable kind; theirs is made of bronze, but ours consists of the hope of salvation. Their shield is made of wood and leather, but we hold out the shield of faith.824 [31.189] We wear the breastplate of righteousness, but they have coats of chain-mail around them.825 We defend ourselves with the sword of the Spirit, but they carry iron.

οὕτω δῆλον, ὅτι τροφαὶ οὐχ αἱ αὐταὶ ἀμφοτέροις τὴν ἰσχὺν ἐμποιοῦσιν: ἀλλ᾿ ἡμᾶς μὲν τὰ δόγματα τῆς εὐσεβείας ῥῶννυσιν, ἐκείνοις δὲ ἡ πλησμονὴ τῆς γαστρὸς ἀναγκαία. ᾿Επεὶ οὖν ἤγαγεν ἡμῖν περιτρέχων ὁ χρόνος τὰς πολυποθήτους ταύτας ἡμέρας, ὡς παλαιὰς τροφοὺς, ἄσμενοι πάντες ὑποδεξῶμεθα, δι᾿ ὧν ἐτιθηνήσατο ἡμᾶς ἡ ᾿Εκκλησία πρὸς τὴν εὐσέβειαν. Μέλλων τοίνυν νηστεύειν μὴ σκυθρωπάσῃς ᾿Ιουδαϊκῶς: ἀλλ᾿ εὐαγγελικῶς σεαυτὸν καταφαίδρυνον, μὴ πενθῶν τῆς γαστρὸς τὴν ἔνδειαν, ἀλλὰ συνηδόμενος τῇ ψυχῇ τῶν πνευματικῶν ἀπολαύσεων. Οἶδας γὰρ, ὅτι ῾Η σὰρξ ἐπιθυμεῖ κατὰ τοῦ πνεύματος, τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα κατὰ τῆς σαρκός. ᾿Επεὶ οὖν ταῦτα ἀλλήλοις ἀντίκειται, ὑφέλωμεν τῆς σαρκὸς τὴν εὐπάθειαν, αὐξήσωμεν δὲ τῶν ψυχῶν τὴν ἰσχὺν, ἵνα, διὰ τῆς νηστείας κατὰ τῶν παθῶν λαβόντες τὰ νικητήρια, τοὺς τῆς ἐγκρατείας στεφάνους ἀναδησῶμεθα.

4. ῍Ηδη οὖν σεαυτὸν ἄξιον παρασκεύασον τῆς σεμνοτάτης νηστείἀ: μὴ τῇ σημερινῇ μέθῃ τὴν αὔριον διαφθείρῃς ἐγκράτειαν.

So it’s clear that foods don’t produce the same kind of strength for both armies. The teachings of godliness strengthen us, even while they are enslaved by the fullness of their stomachs.

Now time has brought these much longed-for days around to us again. So let’s welcome them into our homes like old nursemaids, who have been placed in the church for helping us to godliness.

Therefore, when you are going to fast don’t be gloomy-faced like the Jews.826 Rather, like gospel believers, adorn yourselves with rejoicing in the soul from spiritual enjoyment, not mourning your empty stomach.

You know that “The flesh desires what is opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit is opposed to the flesh.”827 Therefore since “these things are adversaries to one another,”828 let’s rob the flesh of its comforts, and let’s increase the soul’s strength. Fasting will help us work through suffering until the victory feast is thrown for us, when we may be crowned with wreaths wrought by self-control.829

4. Now you should already be preparing yourselves to be worthy of the honorable fast. Don’t be getting drunk today and ruin tomorrow’s self-control.830

Κακὸς ὁ λογισμὸς, πονηρὰ ἡ ἐπίνοια: ᾿Επειδὴ πέντε ἡμερῶν νηστεία ἡμῖν προκεκήρυκται, σήμερον ἑαυτοὺς τῇ μέθῃ καταβαπτίσωμεν. Οὐδεὶς, γυναῖκα νόμοις γαμικοῖς ἐπάγεσθαι μέλλων, παλλακίδας καὶ ἑταίρας προλαβὼν εἰσοικίζεται. Οὐ γὰρ ἀνέχεται ἡ νομίμη τὴν μετὰ τῶν διεφθαρμένων συνοίκησιν. Μὴ τοίνυν καὶ σὺ, προσδοκωμένης νηστείας, προεισαγάγῃς τὴν μέθην, τὴν πάνδημον πόρνην, τὴν ἀναισχυντίας μητέρα, τὴν φιλόγελων, τὴν μαινάδα, τὴν πρὸς πᾶσαν ἰδέαν ἀσχημοσύνης εὔκολον. Οὐ γὰρ μὴ εἰσέλθῃ νηστεία καὶ δέησις εἰς ψυχὴν ῥυπωθεῖσαν ὑπὸ τῆς μέθης. Τὸν νηστεύοντα εἴσω τῶν ἱερῶν περιβόλων παραδέχεται ὁ Κύριος τὸν κραιπαλῶντα ὡς βέβηλον καὶ ἀνίερον οὐ προσίεται. ᾿Εὰν γὰρ ἔλθῃς αὔριον οἴνου ἀπόζων, καὶ τούτου σεσηπότος, πῶς εἰς νηστείαν σοι τὴν κραιπάλην λογίσομαι; Μὴ γὰρ ὅτι πρόσφατον οὐκ ἐνεχέω τὸν ἄκρατον, ἀλλ᾿ ὅτι οὐ καθαρεύεις οἴνου, τοῦτο λογίζου. Ποῦ σε τάξω; ᾿Εν τοῖς μεθύσοις, ἢ ἐν τοῖς νηστευταῖς; ῾Η παρελθοῦσα οἰνοφλυγία πρὸς ἑαυτὴν ἐπισπᾶται: ἡ παροῦσα ἔνδεια νηστείαν προσμαρτυρεῖ.

This kind of rationalizing is evil, a wicked notion: “Since five days of fasting have been proclaimed for us, let’s drown ourselves in drunkenness today.”

No man who is about to celebrate lawfully marrying a wife goes and cohabits with concubines and prostitutes beforehand. The lawful wife won’t put up with those corrupted companions. So don’t expect fasting to put up with it, if you begin with drunkenness—that public prostitute, that mother of shamelessness, that lover of laughter, that madman-maker, that friend of everything shameful.

Fasting and prayer will certainly not enter into the soul defiled by drunkenness. The Lord admits the one who is fasting inside the walls of holy places, but he doesn’t approve of extravagance, he regards that as profane and unholy.

If you come tomorrow smelling of wine, and of this rotten stuff, how will I regard your extravagence as fasting? Consider this: I don’t regard what’s going on lately as being pure, because you aren’t purified by wine. How will I categorize you? With the drunks, or with those who fast?

When drunkenness has passed it drags its victim around.831 The presence of want corroborates the need for fasting.

᾿Αμφισβητήσιμος εἶ τῇ μέθῃ ὥσπερ ἀνδράποδον, καὶ οὐκ ἀφέξεταί σου δικαίως, ἐναργεῖς τὰς ἀποδείξεις τῆς δουλείας παρεχομένη, τὴν ὀσμὴν τοῦ οἴνου ὥσπερ ἀγγείῳ ἐναπομείνασαν. Εὐθὺς ἡ πρῶτη τῶν νηστειῶν ἀδόκιμός σοι γενήσεται, διὰ τὸ ἐναποκεῖσθαί σοι 31.192 τῆς μέθης τὰ λείψανα. ῝Ων δὲ ἡ ἀπαρχὴ ἀδόκιμος, καὶ τὸ πᾶν ἀπόβλητον δηλονότι. Μέθυσοι Θεοῦ βασι λείαν οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν. Εἰ μεθύων ἔρχῃ ἐπὶ τὴν νηστείαν, τί σοι τὸ ὄφελος; Εἰ γὰρ ἀποκλείει σε τῆς βασιλείας ἡ μέθη, ποῦ σοι λοιπὸν χρήσιμον τὸ νηστεύειν; Οὐχ ὁρᾴς, ὅτι καὶ τῶν ἵππων τοὺς ἀγωνιστὰς οἱ ἐμπειρότατοι πωλοδάμναι, τῆς ἀγωνίας προσδοκωμένης, διὰ τῆς ἐνδείας προευτρεπίζουσι; Σὺ δὲ ἐξεπίτηδες σεαυτὸν καταπιέζεις τῷ κόρῳ: τοσοῦτον τῇ γαστριμαργίᾳ καὶ τὰ ἄλογα παρελαύνεις. Βαρουμένη γαστὴρ οὐχ ὅπως πρὸς δρόμον, ἀλλ᾿ οὐδὲ πρὸς ὕπνον ἐπιτηδεία: διότι, καταθλιβομένη τῷ πλήθει, οὐδὲ ἡρεμεῖν συγχωρεῖται, ἀλλ᾿ ἀναγκάζεται πολλὰς ποιεῖσθαι τὰς περιστροφὰς ἐφ᾿ ἑκάτερα.

5. Νηστεία φυλάσσει νήπια, σωφρονίζει τὸν νέον, σεμνὸν ποιεῖ τὸν πρεσβύτην: αἰδεσιμωτέρα γὰρ πολιὰ νηστείᾳ κεκοσμημένη.

It could be argued that drinking takes you into slavery, because it doesn’t pay you fairly. The evidence exhibited that you were working as a slave is the odor of the wine that remains behind in the bottle.

Then the first of the fast days becomes unfavorable to you, on account of the remains of the drinking that have been stored up in you. [31.192] But if the beginning is unfavorable, then the whole time is also plainly rejected. “Drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God.”832 If you come to the fast drinking, what do you think is the point? If drunkenness closes the kingdom of God from you, what’s the use of you fasting?

Don’t you see, that even those who are experienced in the breaking of racehorses expect a struggle, since they haven’t been won over beforehand? But with malice toward yourself you gulp down your fill. You rush to gluttony like so many animals.

A full belly not only makes running a race difficult, it even makes sleep tough. When you are weighed down completely and can’t find a way to rest, you are forced instead to continually turn from side to side.

5. Fasting guards infants, chastens the young, dignifies the old—for gray hair is more venerable when it’s adorned with fasting.

Γυναιξὶ κόσμος ἁρμοδιῶτατος, ἀκμαζόντων χαλινὸς, συζυγίας φυλακτήριον, παρθενίας τροφός. Τοιαῦται μὲν αἱ καθ᾿ ἕκαστον οἶκον αὐτῆς ἐπιμέλειαι. Δημοσίᾳ δὲ πῶς τῷ βίῳ ἡμῶν ἐμπολιτεύεται; Πᾶσαν ἀθρόως τὴν πόλιν, καὶ πάντα τὸν δῆμον μεθαρμόζει πρὸς εὐταξίαν, κοιμίζει κραυγὴν, ἐξορίζει μάχην, λοιδορίαν κατασιγάζει. Τίνος διδασκάλου παρουσία παίδων θόρυβον οὕτως ἀθρόως καθίστησιν, ὡς ἡ νηστεία παραφανεῖσα ταραχὴν πόλεως καταστέλλει; Ποῖος κωμαστὴς ἐν νηστείᾳ προῆλθε; ποῖος χορὸς ἀσελγὴς ἀπὸ νηστείας συνέστη; ᾿Απαλοὶ γέλωτες, καὶ ᾄσματα πορνικὰ, καὶ ὀρχήσεις ἐκμανεῖς ἐξαπίνης τῆς πόλεως ὑπεξέρχονται, ὥσπερ ὑπὸ δικαστοῦ τινος αὐστηροῦ τῆς νηστείας φυγαδευθεῖσαι. Εἰ δὲ πάντες αὐτὴν εἰς τὴν ὑπὲρ τῶν πρακτέων σύμβουλον παρελάμβανον, οὐδὲν ἐκώλυε βαθεῖαν εἰρήνην εἶναι κατὰ πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκου μένην: μήτε ἐθνῶν ἐπανισταμένων ἀλλήλοις, μήτε στρατοπέδων συῥῥηγνυμένων. Οὐκ ἂν ἐχαλκεύετο ὅπλα, νηστείας κρατούσης, οὐδ᾿ ἂν δικαστήρια συνεκροτεῖτο, οὐδ᾿ ἂν ᾤκουν τινὲς τὰ δεσμωτήρια, οὐδ᾿ ἂν ὅλως εἶχον αἱ ἐρημίαι τοὺς κακουργοῦντας, ἢ αἱ πόλεις τοὺς συκοφάντας, ἢ τοὺς καταποντιστὰς ἡ θάλασσα.

It is an attractive ornament to women, a preventative for aging, a castle for couples, a nurse of virginity. There are people like this in each house who diligently pursue it.

But how is our public life in this society? The entire city has come together, and the entire region adopts good conduct, puts to sleep the shouting, gets rid of quarrels, and silences insults. What teacher can control the clamor of children when they have assembled like fasting, as it shows how it makes a throbbing city orderly?

What kind of revelry begins with fasting? What sort of sensual performance comes from fasting? Seductive laughter, songs of harlots, and passionate dances are suddenly withdrawn from the city, having been banished by the austere judge that is fasting.

If only everyone who needs a counselor would take her in, there would be nothing preventing a deep peace from abiding in each house. Nations wouldn’t be attacking each other, and armies wouldn’t be engaging in battle. Neither would weapons be forged, if fasting ruled. There would be no point in holding court, prisons would be unpopulated, and evildoers wouldn’t have a place to hide. If slanderers were found in the cities, they would be thrown into the sea.

Εἰ πάντες ἦσαν μαθηταὶ τῆς νηστείας, οὐδ᾿ ἂν ἡκούσθη ὅλως, κατὰ τὸν τοῦ ᾿Ιὼβ λόγον, φωνὴ φορολόγου, οὐδ᾿ ἂν οὕτως ἦν ὁ βίος ἡμῶν πολυστένακτος καὶ κατηφείας πλήρης, εἰ νηστεία τὸν βίον ἡμῶν ἐπρυτάνευε. Δῆλον γὰρ, ὅτι ἐδίδαξεν ἂν πάντας οὐχὶ βρωμάτων μόνον ἐγκράτειαν, ἀλλὰ καὶ φιλαργυρίας, καὶ πλεονεξίας, καὶ πάσης κακίας παντελῆ φυγὴν καὶ ἀλλοτρίωσιν. Ων ἐξαιρεθέντων, οὐδὲν 31.193 ἐκῶλυεν ἐν εἰρήνv βαθείᾳ καὶ ἀταραξίᾳ ψυχῶν τὴν ζωὴν ἡμᾶς παραπέμπειν.

6. Νῦν δὲ οἱ μὲν τὴν νηστείαν ἀποπεμπόμενοι, τὴν τρυφὴν δὲ ὡς μακαριότητα βίου μεταδιῶκοντες, τόν τε πολὺν ἐκεῖνον τῶν κακῶν ἐσμὸν ἐπεισήγαγον, καὶ τὰ ἑαυτῶν προσδιαφθείρουσι σῶματα. Παρατήρησόν μοι τῶν προσῶπων τὴν διαφορὰν, τῶν τε σήμερόν σοι κατὰ τὴν ἑσπέραν φανησομένων καὶ τῶν αὔριον. Σήμερον οἰδοῦντα, ὑπέρυθρα, ἱδρῶτι λεπτῷ νοτιζόμενα, ὀφθαλμοὶ δίυγροι, προπετεῖς, τὸ ἀκριβὲς τῆς αἰσθήσεως ἐκ τῆς ἔνδοθεν ἀχλύος ἀφvρημένοι: αὔριον δὲ κατεσταλμένα, σεμνὰ, τὴν ἐκ τῆς φύσεως χρόαν ἀπολαβόντα, συννοίας γέμοντα καὶ πάσης αἰσθήσεως ἀκριβοῦς, οὐδεμιᾶς ἔνδοθεν αἰτίας ταῖς φυσικαῖς ἐνεργείαις ἐπισκοτούσης.

If all were disciples of fasting, to echo the words of Job, there wouldn’t be heard any “voice of the taskmaster.”833 If fasting ruled our life, it wouldn’t be full of groaning and sorrow.

It’s clear that fasting would not only teach self-control in relation to all kinds of foods, but also how to entirely escape and get rid of covetousness, greed, and all kinds of evil. Having been set free, nothing [31.193] would hinder deep peace and calmness of soul from accompanying our lives.

6. But now those who have dismissed fasting and pursued after indulgence to make life happy, have instead found that swarms of evils have been introduced, and their own bodies are perishing anyway.

Pay attention with me to the difference in how the faces will appear to you this evening and tomorrow. Observing them today, they are somewhat reddish, wet with a little sweat, their eyes are watery and drooping, and a kind of mistiness seems to have taken over the clarity of their inward senses. But tomorrow they will have become quiet and solemn, the skin natural-looking, filled with meditation. The inner senses will be keen, since they have not had occasion to be darkened by physical exertions.

Νηστεία ἡ τῶν ἀγγέλων ὁμοίωσις, ἡ τῶν δικαίων ὁμόσκηνος, ὁ τοῦ βίου σωφρονισμός. Αὕτη νομοθέτην ἐποίησε τὸν Μωϋσῆν: νηστείας ἐστὶ καρπὸς Σαμουήλ. Νηστεύουσα προσηύξατο τῷ Θεῷ ῍Αννα: ᾿Αδωναὶ> Κύριε, ᾿Ελωὶ> Σαβαὼθ, ἐὰν ἐπιβλέπων ἐπιβλέψῃς ἐπὶ τὴν δούλην σου, καὶ δῷς μοι σπέρμα ἀνδρὸς, δῶσω αὐτὸν ἐνῶπιόν σου δοτόν. Οἶνον καὶ σίκερα οὐ μὴ πίοι, ἕως ἡμέρας θανάτου αὐτοῦ. Αὕτη τὸν μέγαν Σαμψὼν ἐτιθηνήσατο, καὶ ἕως ὅτε συμπαρῆν τῷ ἀνδρὶ, κατὰ χιλίους ἔπιπτον οἱ πολέμιοι, καὶ πύλαι πόλεων ἀνεσπῶντο, καὶ λέοντες τῶν χειρῶν τὴν ἰσχὺν οὐχ ὑφίσταντο. Οτε δὲ μέθη αὐτὸν, καὶ πορνεία παρέλαβον, ἁλῶσιμος ἦν τοῖς ἐχθροῖς, καὶ τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν στερηθεὶς, παίγνιον προέκειτο τοῖς παιδαρίοις τῶν ἀλλοφύλων. Νηστεύσας ᾿Ηλίας ἀπέκλεισε τὸν οὐρανὸν τρία ἔτη καὶ μῆνας ἕξ. ᾿Επειδὴ γὰρ εἶδε πολλὴν ἐκ τοῦ κόρου τικτομένην τὴν ὕβριν, ἀναγκαίως αὐτοῖς τὴν ἀκούσιον ἐκ τοῦ λιμοῦ νηστείαν ἐπήγαγε: δι᾿ ἧς πρὸς τὸ ἄμετρον ἤδη χεομένην αὐτῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ἔστησεν, οἷον καυτῆρί τινι ἢ τομῇ τῇ νηστείᾳ τὴν εἰς τὸ πλέον πρόοδον τοῦ κακοῦ διακόψας.

Fasting is the likeness of the angels, the tent-companion of the righteous, the moderation of life. It made the divine Mosaic Law.834 Samuel is the fruit of fasting. Hannah was fasting when she prayed to God: “O sovereign Lord, God of hosts, if you will look upon your servant, and give me a male child, I will give him to you as a dedicated gift. Wine and liquor he will surely not drink, until the day he dies.” 835

Fasting brought about the great Samson, and brought him up until the time when he appeared publicly before men. Enemies were falling by the thousands, and many of their cities were being torn up, and lions were yielding to the strength of his hands. But when he came under the power of drinking and took up with harlots, he was easy prey for his enemies. He was bereaved of his eyes, and he was set out as a plaything for the children of foreigners.836

After Elijah fasted he closed up the heavens three years and six months.837 After he saw how much wantonness had been born from the people’s fullness, he thought it necessary to bring an involuntary fast upon them by means of famine. Through that he stood, while their excessive sins were already poured out, and fasting created such a burning, and cutting down of their evil leaders in pieces.838

7. Δέξασθε αὐτὴν, οἱ πένητες, τὴν σύνοικον ὑμῶν καὶ ὁμοτράπεζον. Οἱ δοῦλοι, τὴν ἀνάπαυσιν τῶν συνεχῶν τῆς ὑπηρεσίας καμάτων. Οἱ πλούσιοι, τὴν ἰατρεύουσαν ὑμᾶς τῆς ἐκ τοῦ κόρου βλάβης, καὶ τῇ μεταβολῇ τερπνότερα ποιοῦσαν τὰ ὑπὸ τῆς συνηθείας κατα φρονούμενα. Οἱ ἄῥῥωστοι, τὴν τῆς ὑγείας μητέρα. Οἱ εὐεκτοῦντες, τὸ τῆς εὐεξίας ὑμῶν φυλακτήριον. ᾿Ερῶτησον τοὺς ἰατροὺς, καὶ ἀναγγελοῦσί σοι, ὅτι σφαλερῶτατόν ἐστι πάντων ἡ ἐπ᾿ ἄκρον εὐεξία. Διόπερ διὰ νηστείας ὑφαιροῦσι τὸ πλεονάζον οἱ ἐμπειρότατοι, ὡς μὴ τῷ βάρει τῆς πολυσαρκίας ὑποκλασθῆναι τὴν δύναμιν. ᾿Εξεπίτηδες γὰρ διὰ τῆς ἐνδείας 31.196 καθελόντες τὴν ἀμετρίαν, εὐρυχωρίαν τινὰ, καὶ ἀνατροφὴν, καὶ ἀρχὴν δευτέρας αὐξήσεως τῇ θρεπτικῇ δυνάμει παρασκευάζουσιν. Οὕτω παντὶ ἐπιτηδεύματι καὶ πάσῃ σῶματος ἕξει τὸ παρ' αὐτῆς ω© φέλιμον ἀπανταῇ, καὶ πᾶσιν ὁμοίως ἐπιπρέπει, τοῖς οἴκοις, ταῖς ἀγοραῖς, ταῖς νυξὶ, ταῖς ἡμέραις, ταῖς πόλεσι, ταῖς ἐρημίαις. Τὴν τοίνυν διὰ τοσούτων ἡμῖν τὸ παρ' ἑαυτῆς καλὸν χαριζομένην φαιδρῶς ὑποδεξῶμεθα, κατὰ τὸν τοῦ Κυρίου λόγον, μὴ κατασκυθρωπάζοντες ὡς οἱ ὑποκριταὶ, ἀλλὰ τὸ ἱλαρὸν τῆς ψυχῆς ἀνεπιτηδεύτως διαδεικνύντες.

7. Receive her,839 poor common laborers, as your living companion and table partner. Slaves, you who hold the household together, receive her as a rest from your toils. You rich, receive her because she is curing you from the damage of excess. When she has worked her change in you, your daily life will be more pleasant, lived by the way of wisdom. You who are sick, receive her as the mother of health. You who are in good health, receive her as your prescribed good medicine.

Ask the doctors and they’ll report it to you, that it’s the most dangerous of all to be at the peak of health.840 So even the most experienced should deprive themselves of overindulgence, so as not to start secretly weeping for the power of the burden of fleshiness. For when they have purged the excess [31.196] by firm purpose and through austerity, they prepare some open space for education, and a second beginning for promoting the power of growth. So it will have all kinds of bodily benefits for every activity, and it will go along well in houses and fields, by night and by day, in cities and wilderness.

So now, at such a time as this, let’s receive her graciously and joyously into our homes for our own good. Let’s obey the word of the Lord and not be like the gloomy-faced hypocrites,841 but rather just letting the simple brightness of the soul show clearly.

Καὶ οὐ τοσούτου μοι δεῖν ἀγῶνος ἡγοῦμαι τὴν περὶ νηστείας παράκλησιν, ὅσου τὸ μὴ σήμερόν τινα τοῖς κακοῖς τῆς μέθης περιπεσεῖν. Τὴν μὲν γὰρ νηστείαν καὶ διὰ τὴν συνήθειαν καὶ διὰ τὴν πρὸς ἀλλήλους αἰδὼ οἱ πολλοὶ καταδέχονται: φοβοῦμαι δὲ τὴν μέθην, ἢν, ὥσπερ τινὰ κλῆρον πατρῷον, οἱ φίλοινοι διασῶζουσιν. ῾Ως γὰρ οἱ πρὸς τὰς μακρὰς ἀποδημίας ἀπαίροντες, οὕτω τινὲς τῶν ἀνοήτων σήμερον πρὸς τὰς πέντε τῶν νηστειῶν ἡμέρας οἰνίζονται. Τίς οὕτως ἀνόητος, ὥστε, πρὶν ἄρξασθαι πίνειν, τὰ τῶν μεθυόντων παραφρονεῖν; Οὐκ οἶδας, ὅτι γαστὴρ παρακαταθήκην οὐ διασῶζει; Γαστὴρ συναλλακτής ἐστιν ἀπιστότατος: ταμιεῖον ἀφύλακτον, πολλῶν ἐναποτεθέντων, τὴν μὲν βλάβην παρακατέχουσα, τὰ μέντοι παρατεθέντα οὐ διασῶζουσα. Ορα καὶ μή σοι αὔριον ἀπὸ μέθης ἐλθόντι τὰ νῦν ἀναγνωσθέντα λεχθῇ: Οὐ ταύτην τὴν νηστείαν ἐξελεξάμην, λέγει Κύριος. Τί μιγνύεις τὰ ἄμικτα; Τίς μετοχὴ νηστείας πρὸς μέθην; τίς κοινωνία τῇ οἰνοφλυγίᾳ πρὸς τὴν ἐγκράτειαν; Τίς συγκατάθεσις ναῷ Θεοῦ μετὰ εἰδῶλων;

And I suppose it’s not really necessary for me to preach about the challenge of fasting, about how today should not be given over to the evils of drunkenness. Most of you receive fasting into your homes again as a habit, showing respect to yourself and one another. But I fear that the wine-lovers will try to rescue drunkenness, like an inheritance from their fathers.

It’s as foolish to buy wine before five days of fasting, as it would be for those who are setting off on a long journey abroad. Who is so stupid that before even beginning to drink, he irrationally thinks about the things of drunkenness? Don’t you know that a stomach won’t safely care for what is entrusted to it? The stomach is a very unfaithful partner. It leaves the treasury unguarded. However many things you put away there, hoping to preserve them, it of course doesn’t take care of them.

See to it that tomorrow, when you have come away from being drunk, the Lord doesn’t have to say, “I haven’t chosen this kind of fast.”842 Why do you dilute pure things? What communion has fasting with drinking? What fellowship does self-control have with drunkenness? “What concord has the temple of God with idols?”843

Ναὸς μὲν γὰρ Θεοῦ εἰσιν ἐν οἷς τὸ Πνεῦμα τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐνοικεῖ, ναὸς δὲ εἰδῶλων οἱ διὰ τῆς μέθης τὸν συρφετὸν τῆς ἀκολασίας ὑποδεχόμενοι. ῾Η σήμερον ἡμέρα προπύλαιόν ἐστι τῶν νηστειῶν. Οὐ δήπου δὲ ὁ ἐν τοῖς προθύροις βεβηλωθεὶς ἄξιός ἐστιν εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὰ ἅγια. Οὐδεὶς οἰκέτης, ἐξευμενίσασθαι θέλων τὸν ἑαυτοῦ δεσπότην, τῷ ἐχθρῷ αὐτοῦ προστάτῃ καὶ διαλλακτῇ κέχρηται. Μέθη ἔχθρα ἐστὶν εἰς Θεόν: νηστεία δὲ ἀρχὴ μετανοίας. Εἰ οὖν βούλει διὰ τῆς ἐξομολογήσεως ἐπανελθεῖν πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν, φεῦγε τὴν μέθην, μή σοι χαλεπωτέραν κατα σκευάσῃ τὴν ἀλλοτρίωσιν. Οὐ μέντοι ἐξαρκεῖ καθ᾿ ἑαυτὴν ἡ ἀποχὴ τῶν βρωμάτων πρὸς τὴν ἐπαινετὴν νηστείαν, ἀλλὰ νηστεύσωμεν νηστείαν δεκτὴν, εὐάρεστον τῷ Θεῷ. ᾿Αληθὴς νηστεία ἡ τοῦ κακοῦ ἀλλοτρίωσις, ἐγκράτεια γλῶσσης, θυμοῦ ἐποχὴ, ἐπιθυμιῶν χωρισμὸς, καταλαλιᾶς, ψεύδους, ἐπιορκίας. ῾Η τούτων ἔνδεια νηστεία ἐστὶν ἀληθής. ᾿Εν τούτοις μὲν οὖν ἡ νηστεία καλόν. Κατατρυφήσωμεν δὲ τοῦ Κυρίου, ἐν τῇ μελέτῃ 31.197 τῶν λογίων τοῦ Πνεύματος, καὶ ἐν τῇ ἀναλήψει τῶν σωτηρίων νομίμων, καὶ ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς διορθωτικοῖς τῶν ψυχῶν ἡμῶν δόγμασιν.

Those whom the Spirit of God indwells are God’s temple.844 But those who let drunkenness bring the refuse of intemperance into their lives are a temple of idols. Today is the gateway of the fast days. But surely the one who has profaned the front doors is not worthy to enter into the holy places.

No household slave who wants to win the favor of his master becomes friends with the champion of his enemy. Drunkenness is an enemy of God, but fasting is the beginning of repentance. So if you want to come near to God through confession, flee drunkenness, so that the loss will not be made more difficult for you.

So let’s not be selfish as we begin the abstinence from foods that is the noble fast. Let’s fast in an acceptable manner, one that’s pleasing to God. A true fast is one that is set against evil, it’s self-control of the tongue. It’s the checking of anger, separation from things like lusts, evil-speaking, lies, and false oaths. Self-denial from these things is a true fast, so fasting from these negative things is good. But on the positive side, let’s delight in the Lord, being in pursuit of the words of the Spirit. And let’s delight in taking up the laws of salvation, and in all the doctrines that restore our souls.

᾿Απὸ μέντοι τῆς ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ νηστείας φυλαξῶμεθα, περὶ η ς καὶ ὁ προφήτης ἀπεύχεται λέγων: Οὐ λιμοκτονήσει Κύριος ψυχὰς δικαίων: καὶ τό: Οὐκ εἶδον δίκαιον ἐγκαταλελειμμένον, οὐδὲ τὸ σπέρμα αὐτοῦ ζητοῦν ἄρτους. Οὐ γὰρ ἂν περὶ αἰσθητῶν ἄρτων εἶπεν ὁ εἰδὼς τοὺς παῖδας τοῦ πατριάρχου ἡμῶν ᾿Ιακὼβ ἄρτων ἕνεκεν καταβάντας εἰς Αἴγυπτον, ἀλλὰ περὶ τῆς πνευματικῆς λέγει τροφῆς, καθ᾿ ἢν ὁ ἔσω ἡμῶν ἄνθρωπος τελειοῦται. Μὴ ἔλθῃ καὶ ἐφ᾿ ἡμᾶς ἡ τοῖς ᾿Ιουδαίοις ἀπειληθεῖσα νηστεία: ᾿Ιδοὺ γὰρ ἡμέραι ἔρχονται, λέγει Κύριος, καὶ ἐπάξω ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν ταύτην λιμὸν, οὐ λιμὸν ἄρτου, οὐδὲ δίψαν ὕδατος, ἀλλὰ λιμὸν τοῦ ἀκοῦσαι λόγον Κυρίου: ὂν διὰ τοῦτο ἐπήγαγεν ὁ δίκαιος κριτὴς, ἐπειδὴ ἑώρα αὐτῶν τὸν μὲν νοῦν ἐν τῇ ἀτροφίᾳ τῶν τῆς ἀληθείας δογμάτων λιμαγχονούμενον, ὑπερπιαινόμενον δὲ αὐτῶν καὶ κατασαρκούμενον τὸν ἔξω ἄνθρωπον. Πάσας τοίνυν τὰς ἐφεξῆς ἡμέρας ἑστιάσει ὑμᾶς τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον ἑωθιναῖς τε καὶ ἑσπεριναῖς εὐφροσύναις.

Therefore let’s guard the fast from these things in secret.845 The prophet also rejects these things, saying, “The Lord will not let the soul of the righteous go hungry,”846 and, “I have not seen the righteous forsaken, or his descendants looking for bread.”847 Now this isn’t speaking about literal bread, such as what the children of our patriarch Jacob went down into Egypt for.848 Rather, it’s talking about spiritual food, the kind that goes inside us and perfects a person.

May the fasting threatened against the Jews not also come upon us: “For behold, days are coming, says the Lord, and I will bring upon this land a famine, not a famine of bread, neither thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the word of the Lord.”849 The righteous judge brought this upon them because their minds were suffering from hunger and in a state of atrophy without true teaching, and their bodies were growing fat and weighed down with flesh. So you should entertain the Holy Spirit joyfully every day without exception, both in the mornings and evenings.

Μηδεὶς ἑκουσίως ἀπολιμπανέσθω τῆς πνευματικῆς εὐωχίας. Πάντες μετάσχωμεν τοῦ νηφαλίου κρατῆρος, ὂν ἡ σοφία, κεράσασα, προέθηκεν ἡμῖν ἐξίσου, καθ᾿ ὅσον ἐστὶ χωρητικὸς ἕκαστος ἀπαρύεσθαι. ᾿Εκέρασε γὰρ τὸν ἑαυτῆς κρατῆρα, καὶ ἔσφαξε τὰ ἑαυτῆς θύματα: τουτέστι, τὴν τῶν τελείων τροφὴν, Τῶν διὰ τὴν ἕξιν τὰ αἰσθητήρια γεγυμνασμένα ἐχόντων πρὸς διάκρισιν καλοῦ τε καὶ κακοῦ. Ων δαψιλῶς ἐμφορηθέντες, εὑρεθείημεν ἄξιοι καὶ τῆς ἐν τῷ νυμφῶνι εὐφροσύνης ἐν Χριστῷ ᾿Ιησοῦ τῷ Κυρίῳ ἡμῶν, ᾧ ἡ δόξα καὶ τὸ κράτος εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας. ᾿Αμήν.

No one should be left behind willingly from the spiritual feasting. Let’s all share from this wineless bowl together. Wisdom has set it before us equally, and a special place for it has been set aside. “She has mixed her own bowl, and has slaughtered her own sacrifices.”850 This refers to the food of the mature, “Who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”851 Once we have thoroughly taken our fill, may we also be found worthy of the exhilaration that comes in the bridal chamber of Christ Jesus our Lord!852 To him be the glory and the power forever! Amen.

737 PG 31:163-98; Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, CD ROM #E (University of California, Irvine, 1999). Italics have been added to a few texts that cite biblical passages.

738 PG 31. 1507-10.

739 Reginald Pole, A Treatie of Iustification (Lovanii: Ioannem Foulerum, 1569; reprint, Farnborough: Gregg, 1967), 48-57.

740 Ps 80:4 (LXX; 81:3 in English); LXX has hJmw'n; cf. also Lev 23:24.

741 Indicating a direct application of a typological interpretation for the liturgical reading of the Psalm just cited.

742 Phrases from Isa 58:4, 6.

743 A loose citation of Matt 6:16-17.

744 Matt 6:17.

745 Synonyms for “anointed” and “washed” signify an intensification, or spiritualization of terms. The outward act is a ritual purification of the body for spiritual purposes.

746 Matt 6:16.

747 Or “hypocrite.”

748 Perhaps this is a self-deprecating play on his own name, “and an idiot might put on the face of Basil”? The i¹diw¯thj could be someone untrained in religion, an inquirer, as 1 Cor 14:16 (L&N).

749 Lit. “beneficence” or “good deeds;” but Lampe cites passage here as alms; cf. Matt 6:2.

750 Lev 16:29, 23:27.

751 Gen 2:17.

752 Matt 9:12.

753 Or “penance.”

754 Gen 3:17-18.

755 Lampe, 597; refers specifically killing animals for eating.

756 Luke 16:20-31; perhaps the connection of fasting to Lazarus is his poverty and desire to eat the crumbs from the rich man’s table.

757 Quote from Gen 9:3; reference to wine, 9:20-21.

758 Gen 9:20-21.

759 Exod 24:18; Deut 9:9.

760 Exod 32:6.

761 Gen 25:30-34.

762 1 Kgs (LXX)/1 Sam (Eng) 1:13-16.

763 Judg 13:4.

764 Judg 13:14.

765 Fasting is personified in several of these sentences.

766 3/1 Kgs 19:8-13.

767 3/1 Kgs 17:19-23? Perhaps the reference to the fasting in the story of Elijah raising the widow’s son has to do with the miraculous divine provision of flour and oil when they had none.

768 3/1 Kgs 17:1. Perhaps the fasting is the miraculous provision of food by the ravens in the following verses.

769 3/1 Kgs 17:1.

770 Apparently a reference to his leaving the place of comfort for austerity.

771 4/2 Kgs 4:38-41; This does not appear to refer to 4:42-44 as PG 31.172.

772 Can mean “undefiled,” but context suggests a technical, physical term; reference to “Greeks” follows Pole, who cites a textual variant not mentioned in PG.

773 Dan 1: 8-16.

774 LXX, Song of the Three Youths, 46-50; Eng., [Dan 13:] 23-27 (RSV).

775 Unclear if “desire” refers to choice foods here, or what verb should be supplied; Pole has “of God specially beloved.”

776 Dan 10:2 refers to abstaining from choice foods, eating only bread and drinking water; perhaps Basil got the reference in Dan 1:12 about water mixed into this story; also, the chronology is not consistent with the story of the lions’ den (Daniel 6), but it is not clear what Basil had in mind here.

777 Dan 6: 21.

778 I.e., the household help, or slaves, won’t quit or run away.

779 Exod 20:10.

780 Apparently the length of the upcoming Lenten fast in Basil’s day.

781 There appears to be a play on words throughout here on the stench of childbirth and interest (both from tovko"), which goes on to children in the next line, as well as snakes and debt (ojfi" is a snake, but the form is very much like ojfeilw, to “owe”).

782 Lampe, 578.

783 Luke 16:19-25.

784 Luke 16:24.

785 The water refers to abstinence from wine during the Lenten season. PG 31.177, n. 43.

786 Apparently a reference to gout ruining the feet, and so requiring someone else to run errands.

787 Heb 11:38a, 37b (textual order inverted).

788 Luke 16:21, 23.

789 Matt 3:4.

790 Matt 11:11.

791 2 Cor 11:27, 12:2.

792 Matt 4:2.

793 Luke 24:43.

794 Gal 5:17.

795 2 Cor 4:16.

796 2 Cor 12:10.

797 Exod 34:28; Deut 9:18, 10:10.

798 Jonah 3:4-10.

799 Heb 3:17.

800 Num 14:37.

801 Ps 104:37, LXX.

802 Exod 16:3; cf. Acts 7:39

803 Ps 77:25.

804 Mark 9:29, with Byz. Mss, as KJV.

805 Jer 5:8.

806 Cf. Rom 1:26.

807 1 Cor 7:5, Byz. mss.

808 Isa 58:6; cf. also previous quote above, 1.1.

809 Isa 58:4.

810 Allusion to Isa 51:21, or 29:9.

811 Ps 63:2 LXX (64:1, Eng.).

812 Or, “he is torn apart”; this term can be used as a cursing expression, “split you!” (LSJ).

813 LSJ notes this as a proverbial saying.

814 John 14:23.

815 The change from a festival to a fast day.

816 Isa 40:1-2; LXX reads kardi/an instead of wÕta as here; LXX includes i¸ereiÍj, though the MT does not, which is why the reference to priests does not appear in English versions. The usual Eng. rendering of parakaleiÍte as “comfort” does not fit the force of the context of Basil’s sermon here, as he uses this text as a justification for his priestly exhortation, drawing a parallel to a coach or army commander.

817 Eph 6:12.

818 Shine, as if from the use of oil (LSJ).

819 The proclamation is the beginning of Lent, and this passage demonstrates that Basil assumes the practice to be empire-wide.

820 Fasting appears to be personified here, although it is not always clearly discernible when to translate the feminine pronoun that refers to fasting with the English personal pronoun or the more generic “it.”

821 This appears to allude to Matt 6:16, where the hypocrites put on a gloomy face when they fast. Basil seems to be suggesting that if the rich do not humble themselves by fasting, then they will really have something to be gloomy about as a judgment from God.

822 2 Tim 2:3, 5.

823 1 Cor 9:25.

824 1 Thess 5:8; Eph 6:14-17; cf. also Wis Sol 5:17-20.

825 Cf. 1 Sam 17:5-7 which uses similar terms to describe Goliath, the giant enemy of David.

826 Cf. Matt 6:16-17; Basil turns Jesus’ reference to hypocrites to Jewish fasting.

827 Gal 5:17.

828 Gal 5:17.

829 Or possibly suggesting the present, “let’s now be crowned with self-control.”

830 Referring to feasting before fast days (Carnival).

831 Difficult sentence; possibly a reference to the medical practice of attempting to conceal circumcision (LSJ, Louw-Nida). In that case, perhaps Basil is suggesting either the shame of drunkenness trying to conceal itself, or possibly a reference to drunkenness as not fitting for the gospel dispensation.

832 1 Cor 6:10.

833 Job 3:18.

834 Cf. Exod 34:28.

835 Cf. 1 Sam/Kgs 1:11, LXX; the Hebrew (hence English) does not mention drinking. Last phrase is similar Judg 13:14, as PG 193 cites, but that actually refers to Samson’s mother. It is closer to Judg 13:6.

836 Judg 15:16, 16:3, 14:6, 16:21-25.

837 1 Kgs 17:1.

838 Cf. 1 Kgs 18:30-40.

839 Fasting again appears to be personified through some of these sentences (cf. note 5 above). Also, “receive” is the verb supplied in the following sentences.

840 The picture is that of being on a slippery mountaintop.

841 Matt 6:16-17.

842 Isa 58:5, LXX (English translations follow the Hebrew, which puts the sentence in question form).

843 2 Cor 6:16.

844 Cf. 1 Cor 3:16.

845 Cf. the emphasis on doing righteous deeds, including fasting, in secret, in Matt 6:4, 6, 18.

846 Prov 10:3.

847 Ps 36:25.

848 Gen 42:2, 43:2; this could possibly allude to the fact that the children of Israel eventually ended up in slavery after going to Egypt for literal food, and the spiritual food Basil refers to does not result in slavery, but in spiritual freedom.

849 Amos 8:11.

850 Prov 9:2.

851 Heb 5:14.

852 Cf. Jesus’ reference to the sons of the bride chamber not fasting when the bridegroom is present in Matt 9:15, Mark 2:19, and Luke 5:34. Basil alludes here to the eschatological day of being in Christ’s presence, when the fulfillment of the purpose of fasting is enjoyed.

Related Topics: Fasting

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