Lessons from the Holy Fathers on Fasting

Fasting

Do you fast?
Give me proof of it by your works.
If you see someone who is poor, take pity on that one.
If you see a friend being honored, do not be envious.
Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eyes, and the feet,
and the hands and all the member of our bodies.
Let the hands fast, by being free of avarice.
Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin.
Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful.
Let the ears by not listening to evil talk and gossip.
Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism
For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes,
but bite and devour our brothers and sisters?
— St. John Chrysostom

It is necessary most of all for one who is fasting to curb anger, to accustom himself to meekness and condescension, to have a contrite heart, to repulse impure thoughts and desires, to examine his conscience, to put his mind to the test and to verify what good has been done by us in this or any other week, and which deficiency we have corrected in ourself in the present week. This is true fasting.
— Saint John Chrysostom

An excellent faster is he who restrains himself from every impurity, who imposes abstinence on his tongue and restrains it from idle talk, foul language, slander, condemnation, flattery and all manner of evil speaking, who abstains from anger, rage, malice and vengeance and withdraws from every evil.
— Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk

See what fasting does: it heals illnesses, drives out demons, removes wicked thoughts, and makes the heart pure. If someone has even been seized by an impure spirit, let him know that this kind, according to the word of the Lord, “goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21).
— Saint Athanasius the Great

By fasting it is possible both to be delivered from future evils and to enjoy the good things to come. We fell into disease through sin; let us receive healing through repentance, which is not fruitful without fasting.
— Saint Basil the Great

The strictness of the forty-day fast puts to death the passions, extinguishes anger and rage, cools and calms every agitation springing up from gluttony. And just as, in the summer, when the burning heat of the sun spreads over the earth, the northern wind gives a welcome blessing to those who are scorched, by dispersing the heat with a tender coolness, so fasting also provides the same by driving out of bodies the burning which is the result of overeating.
— Saint Asterius of Amasia

As bodily food fattens the body, so fasting strengthens the soul; imparting it an easy flight, it makes it able to ascend on high, to contemplate lofty things, and to put the heavenly higher than the pleasant and pleasurable things of life.
— Saint John Chrysostom