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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Training the Passions

Training the passions by abstaining from them is how many believe that humans are freed from the lusts and daily sins of the human condition. For instance, many fast from certain foods or on certain days may take only bread and water. These are all good, but to be completely cured of the flesh, Saint Peter Chrysologus states that “an expenditure of mercy is required.”

Although fasting may repel the diseases of the flesh, only the flow of mercy, kindness, almsgiving and compassion will open the doors of healing grace that will eradicate the passions. Basically, one can do all the fasting and abstaining possible and like self-help books and methods, it won’t cure them. The more unmericiful we are toward others, the less likely fasting will have little effect on one's healing.

Chrysologus states, “Fasting heals the wounds of sins, but without mercy it does not cleanse the scars made by the wounds.” Fasting may be good for the soul, but without the soul freely giving mercy, one cannot ascend to God.
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