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Joined: Mar 2004
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Alice,

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Am I alone in not being able to conquer this 'passion' of thinking about food even if I am not partaking of it?


No, you are not alone. I too have struggled with this, especially during the winter, when my cravings for carbs and sugars spikes. I just try to have the attitude that when we fall, we must get back up.

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Originally Posted by francis
I think a primary practical way to help us fast from food is to first fast from popular culture, especially media outlets such as television. About a year and a half ago I got rid of my television, as I was tired of the constant commercialism and general immorality I was exposed to. A few months after that, I began to take more seriously the call to fasting and for the first time in my life (after many failed attempts) was able to integrate fasting into my lifestyle. I believe these two events are connected. The message promoted by television is that personal pleasure and comfort is all that matters. This cannot but seep into one's subconscious. If we remove the constant propaganda that our personal desires are our gods, then we can be more open to living a more ascetical lifestyle.


Francis, I think you make a really important point here.

I found that after I turned off the TV and otherwise avoided distractions from popular culture, I was much more free to focus on my ascetic practice.

Stillness and silence: the Fathers were right . . . ;-)

-- John

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Hello all,
I think this is a very generalized problem.
In the west, at least, I think one of the problems, besides the culture issue, is a lack of understanding about why fasting is important, what it is useful for.

We are still recovering from an idea of sacrifice as an objective in itself. The idea that I am willing to make a sacrifice to show how much I love God.

The modern mentality is that God does not require us to make sacrifices to show how we love him, and that is true, but the result has been to dismiss fasting and other forms of sacrifice as obsolete or even counter productive.

Of course both these ideas miss the mark, and the true meaning and use of fasting has been most elequently explained in posts above.

As for myself, I have struggled with this issue over the past year.

For example, every year at lent I had the same problem. Around a week before Ash Wednsday I started craving meat, and every Friday, all I could do was think about steak.

This year I decided to give fasting a bit more of a chance. I didn't fast completely, instead I would only have a bowl of soup for lunch, instead of a full meal that I used to have.

I am lucky to have several churches near my work, and I am blessed to be able to go to mass every weekday at lunch. So I would go to mass anyway but, with the time left over from not having a full lunch, I would spend 20 minutes meditating in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.

The results were immediate. The feeling that I was no longer a slave to my hunger or my greed was wonderful, and even after lent ended, I continue to abstain from lunch two or three times a week. It helped me understand that in general I was eating more than I needed to, and that some of the time that occupied could be dedicated to nourishing my spirit.

On a different note, fasting is something that East and West have in common, even though the dates and "rules" may differ. A rediscovery of this treasure, both East and West (although I feel that in the West we need it more), could help to bring us closer together, rather than stressing what seperates us.

Finally, I also think it is worth learning more about the idea of fasting for a cause, or for a person, this is another subject which has fallen into disuse because people just don't understand it anymore.

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Dear Phillipe,

First of all, I would like to tell you that I liked your post very much...

Quote
Finally, I also think it is worth learning more about the idea of fasting for a cause, or for a person, this is another subject which has fallen into disuse because people just don't understand it anymore.


This is still done in traditional Orthodoxy when one is up against an obstacle and/or oppression of some sort, whether of their own, or of a family members...because Scripture tells us that 'this kind (of demon) can only be fought with prayer and fasting'...

A story I love to remember is that of St. Nektarios of Aegina. When he was the Dean of the Rizarios Theological school in Athens, Greece, a group of seminarian students were at great odds and anomosity with each other. They were brought to his office for discipline. Instead of punishing them, he told them that he would go to his room and that he would fast from food completely and pray, until they were able to make up with each other!! You can imagine their shock! The saint was going to starve himself, and in a manner of speaking, punish himself, for *their* bad behaviour! I believe he spent one day in complete fast coupled with prayer before the young men all made up and became friends.

Alice


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