Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Psychotherapy


Eldress Gavrilia on the Importance of Fasting




Question:  Mother, what could you tell us about fasting? 
Answer:  Fasting is one of our greatest weapons against the evil one. I will repeat what Fr. Lazarus (Moore) told me once. In 1962 I went to the USA. I stayed there a long time and traveled to many states. The letters of Fr. Lazarus were a great help. He was my spiritual guide and I am most grateful to him for the valuable letters he wrote to me at times, wherever I went. He used to say, “Go anywhere you like, do whatever you like, as long as you observe fasting.” 
Question:  Why that, Mother? 
Answer:  Because not a single arrow of the evil one can reach you when you fast. Never. 
Question: You mean Wednesdays and Fridays. 
Answer: Not only that; all fast days and periods. 
Question: What were you eating then? 
Answer:  It was the fast of the first two weeks in August, and there they kept a good table with all sorts of non-fasting delicacies. But for me, a tomato juice and some stewed fruit were more than enough – every day for the entire fast. 
Question:  Mother, as you have just said, by fasting we are safe from the arrows of the evil one. Does this happen because the soul is left free for spiritual nourishment? 
Answer:  To begin with, fasting makes you forget about your body – the “What are we going to eat? What are we going to drink?” So when you don't pay attention to the body, you turn your attention to the spirit. And the spirit is blessed by God. It receives and accepts the grace of God. Then you can lead a life according to Christ, as we all wish our life to be, as we all wish to live our life. Fasting helps in all that. St. Basil the Great said that the basis for spiritual progress is the practice of temperance in all things. Our ancestors, too, had that famous saying, “A fat belly cannot breed a fine mind.” 
Question:  This rule is for monastics. What about people who live in the world? 
Answer:  No, the rule is not only for monks and nuns. I was living in the world when Fr. Lazarus wrote me, with my professional activities, my physiotherapy practice, etc..


Article published in English on: 19-3-2011.

Last update:  19-3-2011.