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 you 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 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 humble 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. Saint Peter Chrysologus, bishop
As Saint Peter Chrysologus tells us, the bottom line is what we call the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” But he takes it a step further, a step deeper. He says do without so that you can do for others, this is the part of “us” we keep, the part we own. The rest of who and what we are belongs to God. We may not have much to give to others in need except our kindness, but we have a great deal to give to God. Ourselves! Let us forget the “things” of this world, and give the “three things” God desires. kvs