The Point of the Fast: To Win Back the Occupied Territory

Each fast is a military campaign. We oppose the enemy in order to win our territory back, if not all of it, then at least some part. What territory are we talking about? About the territory of our soul. This territory has been occupied by the enemy since the fall of Adam. Before his fall, the enemy did not have access to the human soul, had no power over it. Adam was holy and perfect; he was the king of all creation. But after the fall, the enemy gained power over him, and the soul of Adam was captured, occupied. This captivity spread to all Adam’s offspring – to the entire human race. From birth, all people receive a soul captured by the enemy. Saint Macarius the Great says that since the fall of Adam, evil has secretly and covertly been living in the soul of every person, which forces a person to commit sin; while people think that they do it by their own mind and will. Of course, the souls of different people are occupied by the enemy to varying degrees, because each of us also adds personal sins to the common original sin, multiplying the rights and power of the devil over our souls by this.

So, the point of fast is to win back part of our soul from the enemy. To do this, you need to cleanse the soul from sin and impurity, because devil receives power over the soul through them. During fast, with God’s help, one must try to get rid of envy, greed and vindictiveness, from rage, irritability and filthiness, from gluttony and alcoholism, from rampant lust, from conceit, vanity and people-pleasing. If we, at least to some extent, get rid of these passions, we will release part of our soul from captivity; and in those territories where sin and evil spirits reigned before, the Grace of God will dwell. According to Saint Macarius, the King Christ then sends avengers to the city of the soul, binds the tormentors and settles there a regiment of holy spirits.

But in order to win even a small part of our soul back, arduous fighting is required. With a quiet life and relaxation, we will not succeed. Everyone knows: there can be no victory without a fight. The Gospel says on purpose that the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. It is for this purpose that the Church established fasts, so that we can fight, defeat and take away from the enemy a part of his power over us. A person who holds every fast according to his strength and conduct spiritual warfare is gradually freed from the power of the enemy. His soul is enlightened gradually and becoming a place of residence and a temple of the Holy Spirit. And we certainly need to remember this – after all, we Christians are called to become such a temple. For this we must work hard and struggle. Amen.

Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds

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