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Fasting

Early Church Fathers Quotes on Fasting

 The Didache

But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whoever else can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before. But let not your fasts be with the hypocrites, for they fast on the second and fifth day of the week. Rather, fast on the fourth day and the Preparation (Friday). – The Didache

Second Clement

Good, then, is alms as repentance from sin; better is fasting than prayer, and alms than both; “charity covereth a multitude of sins,” and prayer out of a good conscience delivereth from death. Blessed is every one that shall be found complete in these; for alms lightens the burden of sin. – Second Clement

Polycarp

Wherefore, forsaking the vanity of many, and their false doctrines, let us return to the word which has been handed down to us from the beginning; “watching unto prayer,” and persevering in fasting; beseeching in our supplications the all-seeing God “not to lead us into temptation,” as the Lord has said: “The spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – The the Philippians

Letter to Diognetus

But as to their scrupulosity concerning meats, and their superstition as respects the Sabbaths, and their boasting about circumcision, and their fancies about fasting and the new moons, which are utterly ridiculous and unworthy of notice,—I do not think that you require to learn anything from me. For, to accept some of those things which have been formed by God for the use of men as properly formed, and to reject others as useless and redundant,—how can this be lawful? – Diognetus

Shepherd of Hermas

This then is the way, that you shall keep this fast which you are about to observe. First of all, keep yourself from every evil word and every evil desire, and purify your heart from all the vanities of this world. If you keep these things, this fast shall be perfect for you. And thus shall you do. Having fulfilled what is written, on that day on which you fast you shall taste nothing but bread and water; and from your meats, which you would have eaten, you shall reckon up the amount of that day’s expenditure, which you would have incurred, and shall give it to a widow, or an orphan, or to one in want, and so shall you humble your soul, that he that has received from your humiliation may satisfy his own soul, and may pray for you to the Lord. If then you shall so accomplish this fast, as I have commanded you, your sacrifice shall be acceptable in the sight of God, and this fasting shall be recorded; and the service so performed is beautiful and joyous and acceptable to the Lord. – ibid

Aristides

And if they hear that one of their number is imprisoned or afflicted on account of the name of their Messiah, all of them anxiously minister to his necessity, and if it is possible to redeem him they set him free. And if there is among them any that is poor and needy, and if they have no spare food, they fast two or three days in order to supply to the needy their lack of food. They observe the precepts of their Messiah with much care, living justly and soberly as the Lord their God commanded them. – The Apology of Aristides the Philosopher

Origen

And the Apostle, taking, I think. his starting-point from this place, says with apostolical authority, “If I have all faith so as to remove mountains,”  for not one mountain merely, but also several analogous to it, he removes who has all faith which is as a grain of mustard-seed; and nothing shall be impossible to him who has so great faith. But let us also attend to this, “This kind goeth not out save by prayer and fasting,” in order that if at any time it is necessary that we should be engaged in the healing of one suffering from such a disorder, we may not adjure, nor put questions, nor speak to the impure spirit as if it heard, but devoting ourselves to prayer and fasting, may be successful as we pray for the sufferer, and by our own fasting may thrust out the unclean spirit from him. – Commentary on Matthew XIII

Clement of Alexandria

“Fasting with prayer is a good thing.” Now fastings signify abstinence from all evils whatsoever, both in action and in word, and in thought itself.

Tertullian

We count fasting or kneeling in worship on the Lord’s day to be unlawful. We rejoice in the same privilege also from Easter to Whitsunday.

Accordingly, (they think) that, with regard to the future, fasting was to be indifferently observed, by the New Discipline, of choice, not of command, according to the times and needs of each individual: that this, withal, had been the observance of the apostles, imposing (as they did) no other yoke of definite fasts to be observed by all generally, nor similarly of Stations either, which (they think) have withal days of their own (the fourth and sixth days of the week), but yet take a wide range according to individual judgment, neither subject to the law of a given precept, nor (to be protracted) beyond the last hour of the day, since even prayers the ninth hour generally concludes, after Peter’s example, which is recorded in the Acts. –  On Fasting

Cyprian

Prayer is good, with fasting and alms; because alms does deliver from death, and it purges away sins. Tobit 12:8-9 He shows that our prayers and fastings are of less avail, unless they are aided by almsgiving; that entreaties alone are of little force to obtain what they seek, unless they be made sufficient by the addition of deeds and good works. – Treatises of Cyprian – Treatise VIII

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