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Fasting from Evil?

By Fr. Mark Perkins

Fr. Sean's last post embedded the first episode of the new season of The Sacramentalists, which will be focused on the practices of Anglican devotion. That first episode is on fasting. Much of their advice accords with what Fr. Sean and I wrote back before Lent about how to fast well without extremism: "Take It Easy and Enjoy Lent."

Likewise, Frs. Myles and Wesley hit on the old point that we do not "fast" from evil, lest one think we also "feast" upon it -- we give it up entirely! Fr. Wesley quite correctly pointed out that some Orthodox saints and writers do speak of fasting from evil.

That is so, but, as I have argued before, they always do so analogically and tend to be very careful in their use of language:

St. Basil does refer to “fasting from… negative things,” but it is clearly allegorical language and in the context of how physical fasting helps us spiritually. In all the other patristic quotations from the essays linked above, the language shifts from "fasting" to something else when the focus is on evil... In other words, the fathers are generally quite careful to avoid language of “fasting from evil.” ...
Hence, we think it unwise to speak of “fasting from evil,” full stop. If we wish to follow the (somewhat rare) patristic precedent of using that language, then we should likewise follow the precedent of only doing so in ways that are clearly allegorical and carefully contextualized within the bodily disciplines enjoined by Lent.

Do be sure to listen to the whole episode, including the new segment, "Fr. Creighton's Anglo-Catholic Corner," which is gonna be a great feature!

Fr. Mark Perkins is Curate at St. Alban's Anglican Cathedral in Oviedo, Florida and Assistant Editor of Earth & Altar.


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