My pastor told me today at confession that sins of the flesh are best fought by fasting. I am a diabetic so I need to watch that. Maybe start out by fasting a meal. Then a day. He also told me about “Anthony of the desert” whom I had not heard of. I don’t know how his stories come to us but he had visions evidently. Which is very much not for the weak minded like myself. But he grew in strength. He saw a satyr and centaur who evidently were not that but demons in disguise. And there was a plate of gold and one of silver. So I would like to know if anyone has read of him. Porn and masturbation are my sins I am so ashamed and tired of. I spoke to him about counseling. He said fasting is where we learn our discipline. And I get afraid, “If I do not do this, something might happen.” As if it’s normal for mature men of the sexual years to do. And it’s not.
Did the priest know you are diabetic? While I respect the authority of the priest, I would be concerned that this is not medically appropriate advice, and I would not pursue such a course without counseling both your doctor and a spiritual director.
That said, perhaps you can fast in other ways, not with food. For example, fast from TV a few times a week. Maybe video games or unnecessary internet browsing. Maybe “reverse fast” and instead of abstaining from something be proactive, like dedicate a certain amount of time in prayer. These are just suggestions. I do not wish to contradict a priest, but not all of them are medically trained, he may not be fully aware of your condition, and you are not expected to put your health in danger at all.
Anyway, I know there was more to your topic than just the fasting, but that’s my two cents.
Fasting can take many forms. Fasting isn’t only related to food though that is probably what most of us think of. We can fast from television whether it is the news, sit-coms, dramas etc… or all of the above. When addicted to porn try to fast from whatever medium you use to view or read the porn. Maybe also avoid television and movies with sexual innuendo-good luck with that unless you avoid the tv altogether. We can fast with our ears-not listening to music that may tempt is one way.
Since you have health issues definitely take care and be mindful if you decide to fast with food. Letting go of one meal a day or letting go of snacking between meals is probably best. Check with your dr. on that. Check with your priest on the forms of fasting I wrote about and see if he agrees since he is the one who mentioned fasting.
“And I get afraid…something might happen.” Something will definitely happen. You will experience freedom. You will be liberated from some chains you’ve created due to these addictions and begin to feel a huge weight lifted from your shoulders. With time it will become easier to not view porn and not to masturbate. Be not afraid.
Yes, an excellent post
From a sermon by Saint Peter Chrysologus, bishop
Prayer knocks, fasting obtains, mercy receives
There are three things, my brethren, by which faith stands firm, devotion remains constant, and virtue endures. They are prayer, fasting and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives. Prayer, mercy and fasting: these three are one, and they give life to each other.
Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. Let no one try to separate them; they cannot be separated. If you have only one of them or not all together, you have nothing. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others you open God’s ear to yourself.
When you fast, see the fasting of others. If you want God to know that you are hungry, know that another is hungry. If you hope for mercy, show mercy. If you look for kindness, show kindness. If you want to receive, give. If you ask for yourself what you deny to others, your asking is a mockery.
Let this be the pattern for all men when they practise mercy: show mercy to others in the same way, with the same generosity, with the same promptness, as you want others to show mercy to you.
Therefore, let prayer, mercy and fasting be one single plea to God on our behalf, one speech in our defence, a threefold united prayer in our favour.
Let us use fasting to make up for what we have lost by despising others. Let us offer our souls in sacrifice by means of fasting. There is nothing more pleasing that we can offer to God, as the psalmist said in prophecy: A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit; God does not despise a bruised and humbled heart.
Offer your soul to God, make him an oblation of your fasting, so that your soul may be a pure offering, a holy sacrifice, a living victim, remaining your own and at the same time made over to God. Whoever fails to give this to God will not be excused, for if you are to give him yourself you are never without the means of giving.
To make these acceptable, mercy must be added. Fasting bears no fruit unless it is watered by mercy. Fasting dries up when mercy dries up. Mercy is to fasting as rain is to earth. However much you may cultivate your heart, clear the soil of your nature, root out vices, sow virtues, if you do not release the springs of mercy, your fasting will bear no fruit.
When you fast, if your mercy is thin your harvest will be thin; when you fast, what you pour out in mercy overflows into your barn. Therefore, do not lose by saving, but gather in by scattering. Give to the poor, and you give to yourself. You will not be allowed to keep what you have refused to give to others.
Thanks you for this. I did not know it. I think perhaps what he was saying, at least as I took it. Was the flesh is conquered by discipline of fasting. My penance was to celebrate the Mass in the mercy of God.
I have told him in the past I am diabetic. He probably forgot and when I was there I didn’t think to bring it up. I was thinking about fasting, perhaps a meal. Or putting it off. I try to stay away from TV and news as it’s upsetting and confusing anyway. We get no exercise from it. Mentally or physically. I do very much like computers and the internet. Or I play cards and read. I watch TV once or twice a week.
I understand too that mercy is intrinsically attached to justice. And not all forms of Justice require mercy so in these times it can’t be held against us to not be merciful surely. I see a requirement to go further in justice is needed.
Your fasting must open up a space for love. It’s not a discipline designed merely for deprivation or self improvement. When fasting you could think of someone else. Visit someone instead of watching tv. Do something for others that might be out of your comfort zone. Visit a nursing home.
I see. When not in sin we have Charity. But this is extra effort? I am just trying to get this straight. Extra effort is need for charity (love) in fasting and mercy?
I’m not following you.
Fasting should be done with a motivation to charity. By giving up something we have an open space to love and serve others. Fasting and discipline are not ends in themselves. They are not cures for vice. Hopefully they lead us out of ourselves toward love of others.
OK. My pastor and confessor told me with sins of the flesh, fasting is discipline. Maybe that was his message to me. I am trying to conquer mortal sin.
Yes. It is discipline.
What is the purpose and focus of discipline?
What is it’s purpose?
Morality is not negative. It always points us to the good. Mere avoidance is not the goal. By avoidance of sin, I become the more free to love others.