Beloved, peace and joy to you all at this blessed Advent. With great anticipation we long for the coming of the Saviour, Emmanuel, who will save us from our sins. This is a time of longing and preparation for us. Part of this preparation is to keep a fast, not merely a physical fast but a spiritual fast – a time of increased prayer, almsgiving, temperance, charity, and good works.
Let us heed to work of the Fathers as they offer guidance on our journey to sanctification
I speak not of such a fast as most persons keep, but of real fasting; not merely
abstinence from meats, but from sins as well. For the nature of a fast is such that it does not suffice to deliver those who practice it unless it is done according to a suitable law. So that when we have gone through the labor of fasting we do not lose the crown of fasting, we must understand how and in what manner it is necessary to conduct the business since the Pharisee also fasted, but afterward went away empty and destitute of the fruit of fasting. The Publican did not fast, and yet he was accepted in preference to him who had fasted in order that you may learn that fasting is unprofitable unless all other duties accompany it.
Fasting is a medicine. But like all medicines, though it be very profitable to the person
who knows how to use it, it frequently becomes useless (and even harmful) in the hands of him who is unskillful in its use.
I have said these things not that we may disparage fasting, but that we may honor
fasting. For the honor of fasting consists not in abstinence from food, but in
withdrawing from sinful practices, since he who limits his fasting only to abstinence
from meats is one who especially disparages fasting.