Your Soul in the Mirror

When fasting, look into your heart, not into the mirror. Weigh your body of good works instead of yourself on a bathroom scale. Rejoice in reducing your guilt and not in losing a few pounds. Measure your charity, not your calories.

Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. [Proverbs 30:7-9 (KJV)].

Your Essential Self
Fasting can remove much that is excessive, extraneous and petty in our daily affairs. When effective, it helps us look into our essential self, helping to expose our deepest thoughts to the scrutiny of our conscience, and providing light to the darkened soul.

Your fellow is your mirror. If your own face is clean, the image you perceive will also be flawless. But should you look upon your fellow man and see a blemish, it is your own imperfection that you are encountering — you are being shown what it is that you must correct within yourself. Baal Shem Tov

Physically, we are usually healthier after fasting. We have relaxed the weight and burden of immoderate consumption and digestion of food, and our body usually responds by being ready to confront new challenges.

Excessive eating is prejudicial to health, to fame, and to bliss in Heaven; it prevents the acquisition of spiritual merit and is odious among men; one ought, for these reasons, to avoid it carefully. [Laws of Manu 2.57]

Catharsis and Revival
Spiritually, we feel an enhanced awareness of the sacred. The sense of repentance and remorse that can accompany fasting acts as a catharsis. Our conscience feels relief as we act to express our heartfelt sadness and seek spiritual help to remove some of our burdens.

We must not be astonished to see ourselves imperfect, since we must never see ourselves otherwise in this life. [St Francis de Sales].

After the fast, we often experience a sense of self-assurance, renewed vitality and resoluteness. We completed what, before the fast, appeared a daunting task. We have revived our spiritual strength and our direction appears clearer.

The pure heart is the best mirror for the reflection of Truth. So all these disciplines are for the purification of the heart. As soon as it is pure, all truths flash upon it in a minute. [Sri Sathya Sai Baba].

We have exerted a significant effort to please God and sense that a spiritual obligation has been satisfied. With bolstered confidence and enhanced piety, we are ready for selfless service to our Creator.

There is something remarkable in the manner wherein God revived His work in these parts. A few months ago the generality of people in this Circuit were exceeding lifeless. Samuel Meggot, perceiving this, advised the society at Barnard-Castle to observe every Friday with fasting and prayer. The very first Friday they met together, God broke in upon them in a wonderful manner; and His work has been increasing among them ever since. The neighboring societies heard of this, agreed to follow the same rule, and soon experienced the same blessing.

Is not the neglect of this plain duty (I mean, fasting, ranked by our Lord with almsgiving and prayer) one general occasion of deadness among Christians? Can any one willingly neglect it, and be guiltless? [John Wesley, Collected Works of John Wesley, Vol. 03, p. 116]

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Cultivating Piety with Abstinence and Faith