Matthew 6:17

But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face;
All Commentaries on Matthew 6:17 Go To Matthew 6

George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
The forty days' fast, my dear brethren, is not an observance peculiar to ourselves; it is kept by all who unite with us in the profession of the same faith. Nor is it without reason that the fast of Christ should be an observance common to all Christians. What is more reasonable, than that the different members should follow the example of the head. If we have been made partakers with him of good, why not also of evil. Is it generous to exempt ourselves from every thing that is painful, and with to partake with him in all that is agreeable? With such dispositions, we are members unworthy of such a head. Is it much for us to fast with Christ, who expect to sit at the table of his Father with him? Is it much for the members to suffer with the head, when we expect to be made one day partakers with him in glory? Happy the man who shall imitate such a Master. He shall accompany him whithersoever he goes. (St. Bernard Serm, in Quad.) Wherefore, my dear brethren, if the taste only has caused us to offend God, let the taste only fast, and it will be enough. But if the other members also have sinned, let them also fast. Let the eye fast, if it has been the cause of sin to the soul; let the ear fast, the tongue, the hand, and the soul itself. Let the eye fast from beholding objects, which are only calculated to excite curiosity and vanity; that being now humbled, it may be restrained to repentance, which before wandered in guilt. Let the ear fast from listening to idle stories and words that have no reference to salvation. Let the tongue fast from detraction and murmuring, from unprofitable and sacrilegious discourse; sometimes also, out of respect to holy silence, from speaking what appears necessary and profitable. Let the hand also fast from useless works, and from every action that is not commanded. But above all, let the soul fast from sin and the doing of its own will. Without these fasts, all others will not be accepted by the Lord. (St. Bernard, Serm. 2 de Jejun. Quad.) Fast from what is in itself lawful, that you may receive pardon for what you have formerly done amiss. Redeem an eternal fast by a short and transitory one. For we have deserved hell fire, where there will be no food, no consolation, no end; where the rich man begs for a drop of water, and is not worthy to receive it. A truly good and salutary fast, the observance of which frees us from eternal punishment, by obtaining for us in this life the remission of our sins. Nor is it only the remission of former transgressions, but likewise a preservative against future sin, by meriting for us grace to enable us to avoid those faults we might otherwise have committed. I will add another advantage, which results from tasting, one which I hope I am not deceived in saying you have frequently experienced. It gives devotion and confidence to prayer. Observe how closely prayer and fasting are connected. Prayer gives us power to fast, fasting enables us to pray. Fasting gives strength to our prayer, prayer sanctifies our fast, and renders it worthy of acceptance before the Lord. (St. Bernard, Serm. de Orat.ejun.)
3 mins

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. - 2 Peter 1:20

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