St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church
872 N. 29th St. Boise, ID
an American parish of the Russian Orthodox Church
Bodily Purity and Fasting - St. Nicolai (Velimirovic) of Ochrid

Bodily purity is primarily attained through fasting, and through bodily purity comes spiritual purity. Abstinence from food, according to the words of that son of grace, St Ephraim the Syrian, means: “Not to desire or demand much food, either sweet or costly; to eat nothing outside the stated times; not to give oneself over to gratification of the appetite; not to stir up hunger in oneself by looking at good food; and not to desire one or another sort of food.” There is a great fallacy that abstinence from food and the eating of fasting foods are harmful to physical health. It is a known fact that those who fast are the longest-lived and the least prone to sickness. The holy prophet Daniel and the three Holy Children offer us an example of this.  When the King commanded his eunuch to feed the young men on meat from the royal table, and give them good wine to drink, Daniel told the eunuch that they were not willing to take the meat and wine from the king’s table, but wanted only herbs (for Daniel did not want to eat meat sprinkled with blood from the idolatrous sacrifices). But the eunuch was afraid that the young men would be weakened by the fasting food, and spoke of his fear to Daniel. Then the prophet suggested that he make a test, to see whether the fasting food would weaken them or not: to give food from the king’s table to the other young men at court, but to feed these four only on herbs for ten days, and then compare them. The eunuch did what Daniel advised. After ten day, the faces of those four young fasters were fairer and their bodies stronger than those of the Babylonian youths, who had eaten and drunk from the king’s table.