Malankara World

Great Lent

Fasting Enlightens the Soul

by Rev. Fr. Dr. Biji Chirathilattu

Fasting helps to have serenity of the soul because the one, who hungers in his stomach, enlightens his intellect. Therefore, the hunger is a key, which opens the door of wisdom. It assists to arrive at the spiritual beauty, because tastes and materiality cover the intellect.

The humility of the soul and the non-arrogance are also resulting from fasting, because the body, which is a stallion, is being lustful. When not in hunger it does not reduce to subjection/obedience. And it quenches the desires of the sins.

It is necessary that we should control the stomach before it rules us. [1] Bar Ebroyo says in the Book of the Dove also that hun≠ger purifies the mind, attains spiritual enjoyments, by which the spirit is made humble, the desires are quenched and the weariness of sleep lightened. [2] In his interpretation of Mathew 17:21 [3] also Bar Ebroyo clarifies that prayers and fasts purify and heal the body and soul. [4]

And in the Sholia on Mathew 9:15 [5] he affirms, through the following words, that Jesus did not reject Fasts: "Not rejecting fasting, but teaching us that in a suitable time it is right to fast." [6] His interpretation of 1 Sam. 31: 13f brings into light still another purpose of fasting, namely forgiving of sins. He rationalizes the seven days fasting of the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead after the death and burial of Saul with the following words: "That is, in repentance, for they knew that through sin an evil such as this had come to Saul their lord." [7]


[1] Ethicon (ed. BEDJAN), pp. 237-238.

[2] Book of the Dove, p. 33.

[3] But this kind goes not forth, but by fasting and by prayer.

[4] Commentary on the Gospels, p. 53 (Syr. text) / p. 44 (transl).

[5] Can the children of the bride chamber fast as long as the bridegroom is with them.

[6] Commentary on the Gospels, pp. 28-29 (text) / pp. 25-26 (transl).

[7] Scholia on the Old Testament, pp. 322-327.

Source: Chirathilattu Biji Markose: "Prayers and Fasts according to Bar Ebroyo, A Study On the Prayers and Fasts of the Oriental Churches", Lit Publischers, MŁnster, 2004

See Also:

by HH Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Universal Syrian Orthodox Church and All The East
Fasting is a voluntary act of abandoning worldly life. It is a sign of manís obedience to, and respect of Godís laws and his observance of Godís offices by his voluntary abstinence from food or drink for a specific period of time.

The Number and Days of Fasts
There are a number of fasts in the Syrian Orthodox Church and often many questions are asked from the part of the believers as to the dos and don'ts in the fasts, the beginning, duration, and ending of the fasts etc.

The Material Benefits of Fasting
In accordance with the fact that Bar Ebroyo himself was a doctor, he underlines through a quotation from the doctors of his time that fasting improves the health of the body.

The Efficacy of Fasting and the Different Categories of Fasting.
According to Bar Ebroyo, the fasting may be defined in terms of time, of the kind of food or in terms of both time and food, and they are the three different categories of fasting.

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