I AM PLEASED and delighted to see the church of God adorned today with the throng of her own children, and to see you all coming together with great joy. I mean, whenever I look upon your beaming faces, I take it as an infallible sign of the satisfaction you feel at heart. As the wise man said, “The face betrays the joy of the heart.” So naturally I myself arose this morning with more than the usual enthusiasm since I was to share with you this spiritual happiness and I wanted to become a herald for you of the approach of Lent-the medicine, I might say, for your souls.
Like a loving father, you see, the Lord of us aH, in his desire that we be cleansed of the sins we have committed with the passing of time desired a remedy for us through holy fasting.
So let no one be gloomy, no one look sullen, but exult and be glad; and glorify the guardian of our souls, who shows us the best way, and welcome with great joy his approach. Let the pagans be ashamed and the Jews dismayed to see the love
revealed by our welcoming the approach of this season with such excitement, and let them learn through the experience of these things the extent of the difference between
them and us. Let them designate as their feasts and festivals drunkenness and all other kinds of licentious and shameful behavior, which it is typical of them to wallow in, but let the Church of God, unlike them, identify feasts with fasting, neglect of the appetite and all the virtues that accompany it. This, in fact is a true feast, where there is saving of souls, where there is peace and harmony, where the harsh realities of daily life are missing, without tumult and din and the antics of good cooks and slaughter of brute beasts. Utter rest and quiet, love and joy, peace and gentleness, and a thousand other good things are the order of the day in place of that other behavior.
On Fasting by St. John Chrysostom