On Fasting

Mother Arsenya of Russia

As to fasting and its importance, Mother Arsenya used to say: “Many learned people of our times say that fasting and all the other churchly rules are just some empty rituals, a mere appearance that leads to nothing. For my part, the more my life passes on, the more I am convinced that all the rules that have been established by the Holy Fathers are the greatest gift that God has given us and that they all bring salvation due to the Grace that lies in them. Scholars say: «All of these are trifles; it is the truths of the Gospels that matter.»

Yet I am telling you that it is impossible to know and gain an insight into the truths of the Gospels directly, by avoiding the rules of the Church and neglecting them. It is only through them that we are led to the high truths of Christ’s teachings. When we talk about fasting, we talk about refraining from eating much and from doing anything that lacks measure, in order to render our bodies lighter, thinner, and apt for spiritual feelings.

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