Theodore_the_StuditeThe present days of the holy fast are, among the other periods of the year, a calm haven to which all gather and find spiritual serenity –

not only monastics, but laymen as well…., for this period is beneficial and salvific for every country and age of mankind.

At this time every disruption and disorder comes to a halt, and doxology and hymnody are multiplied, charities and prayer by means of which our good God is moved to compassion and is pleased to grant peace to our souls and forgiveness of sins –

if only we shall sincerely turn to Him with all our heart, falling down before Him with fear and trembling, and promising to cease from every bad habit which we might have.

[…] Brethren, fasting is the renewal of the soul, for the Apostle says insofar as the body weakens and withers from the ascetic labor of fasting, then so much is the soul renewed day by day and is made beauteous and shines in the beauty which God originally bestowed upon it.

And when it is purified and adorned with fasting and repentance, then God loves it and will live in it as the Lord has said: “I and the Father will come and make Our abode with him” (John 14.23).

Thus if there is such value and grace in fasting that it makes us into habitations of God, then ought we to greet it with great rejoicing and gladness.

[…] If we desire that the fast be for us a true one and acceptable unto God, then together with abstaining from food, let us restrain ourselves from every sin of soul and body, as the sticheron instructs us in which it is said,

“Let us keep the Fast not only by refraining from food, but by becoming strangers to all sinful passions”.

[…] Let us guard against ill temper and self-assertion, that is, let us not appropriate things for ourselves and indulge our self-will.

For nothing is so loved of the devil as to find a person who has not forgiven another and has not taken advice from those able to instruct him in virtue; then the enemy easily deludes the self-assertive and traps him in all that he does and reckons as good.

Let us vigilantly attend to ourselves, especially in regard to the desires of the flesh; for it is just now, when we fast, that the chameleon serpent-devil fights us with bad thoughts.

Theodore the Studite: (759-826): Catechetical Homilies, 47 @ Orthodox Christian Information Center.