Here is the correct way to fast, according to St. John Chrysostom

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“Besides fasting with your mouth by not eating certain foods, your mouth should also fast from foul language or telling lies about others. For what good is it if you don’t eat meat or poultry, and yet you bite and devour your fellow man?”

1. Fasting is a medicine that must be taken properly.

“Fasting is a medicine. But medicine, as beneficial as it is, becomes useless because of the inexperience of the user. He has to know the appropriate time that the medicine should be taken and the right amount of medicine and the condition of the body which is to take it, the weather conditions and the season of the year and the appropriate diet of the sick and many other things. If any of these things are overlooked, the medicine will do more harm than good.”

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2. Fasting should involve giving up sinful practices.

“The value of fasting consists not only in avoiding certain foods, but in giving up of sinful practices. The person who limits his fast only to abstaining from meat is the one who especially lowers the value of it.”

3. Fasting includes performing virtuous deeds.

“Do you fast? Prove it by doing good works. If you see someone in need, take pity on them. If you see a friend being honored, don’t get jealous of him. For a true fast, you cannot fast only with your mouth. You must fast with your eye, your ear, your feet, your hands, and all parts of your body.”

4. Fast from food and foul speech.

“Besides fasting with your mouth by not eating certain foods, your mouth should also fast from foul language or telling lies about others. For what good is it if you don’t eat meat or poultry, and yet you bite and devour your fellow man?”

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5. Fast according to your physical ability.

“If you cannot go without eating all day because of an ailment of the body, beloved one, no logical man will be able to criticize you for that. Besides, we have a Lord who is meek and loving and who does not ask for anything beyond our power. Because he neither requires the abstinence from foods, neither that the fast take place for the simple sake of fasting, neither is its aim that we remain with empty stomachs, but that we fast to offer our entire selves to the dedication of spiritual things, having distanced ourselves from secular things.”

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