Week 3: Fasting
In The Illumined Heart, Frederica Mathewes-Green explores the wisdom and practices of the early Church.
Fasting is one such ancient practice. Mathewes-Green discusses details of how and when early Christians fasted. Just as important is her exploration of Christian attitudes toward the body:
Our bodies are a part of the creation God pronounced “very good,” and Jesus demonstrated God’s blessing on the human body when he became incarnate. He made the blessing more emphatic when he was resurrected, not as a mere spirit, but in a scar-marked body capable of eating fish. He sealed the blessing in the Ascension, taking that body into the very courts of heaven.
So why do we need to fast?
Our bodies are blessed, but we don’t know how to live harmoniously in them. We drive them like vehicles, use them like tools to dig pleasure, and in the process damage them and distort our capacity to understand them. Fasting disciplines help us quiet these impulsive demands, so that we can better hear what they need and how they are meant to work. It is a turning toward health, a way of honoring creation and preparing for eternity.