08 February 2008

40 days in the desert with Jesus

But that you may learn how great a good is fasting, and what a mighty shield against the Devil, and that after baptism you ought to give attention to fasting and not to lusts, therefore Christ fasted, not Himself needing it, but teaching us by His example. And to fix the measure of our quadragesimnal fast, he fasted forty days and forty nights. But He exceeded not the measure of Moses and Elias, lest it should bring into doubt the reality of His assumption of the flesh. (St. John Chrysostom)

The Creator of all things took no food whatever during forty days. We also, at the season of Lent as much as in us lies afflict our flesh by abstinence. The number forty is preserved, because the virtue of the decalogue is fulfilled in the books of the holy Gospel; and ten taken four times amounts to forty. Or, because in this mortal body we consist of four elements by the delights of which we go against the Lord's precepts received by the decalogue. And as we transgress the decalogue through the lusts of this flesh, it is fitting that we afflict the flesh forty-fold. Or, as by the Law we offer the tenth of our goods, so we strive to offer time tenth of our time. And from the first Sunday of Lent to time rejoicing of the paschal festival is a space of six weeks, or forty-two days, subtracting from which the six Sundays which are not kept there remain thirty-six. Now as the year consists of three hundred and sixty-five, by the affliction of these thirty-six we give the tenth of our year to God. (St. Gregory the Great)

From Catena Aurea (The Golden Chain), Matthew 4
Grant us, O Lord, to enter on the service of our Christian warfare with holy fasting; that as we are to fight against spiritual powers of wickedness, we may be fortified by the aid of self-denial; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Gelasian Sacramentary)

No comments: