Therefore, dear friends, as there is a soil food, which nourishes the weak flesh, there is also a heavenly food which is filled with the pious soul.
One and the other have a vital role: one for men, the other for the Angels. They hold an intermediate place the men of faith, distinguished in their souls by the disturbing of the infidels.
The usefulness of fasting
of St Augustine
The call goes to God: in the high heart, because they have the hope of another life and know that in this world they are passing. They cannot compare with those who consider being a good only the enjoyment of the land pleasures and even with those others who inhabit the supreme headquarters of Heaven, whose only delight is that same bread from which they were created. Those who are on Earth, in search of food and pleasure related only to meat, are to be likened to animals. They are far from the Angels for the objective condition and moral costume: for the condition, because they are deadly; for the costume, because they are sensual. Among those heavenly and terrestrial people, the apostle was in a certain way suspended; There he walked, from there he returned, there he tended from here rising. He could not yet be said to be a participant of that people, for then he would say: "I am in perfection"; Neither was it with these lazy, inert, , sleepy men, who do not believe except in what they see and in what passes, and who is born and who will die.
If it were to be considered their host would not say: I run to the prize of the call. We must therefore regulate our fasting. This is not, as I said, an angelic fulfilment and neither is it of those men who are slaves of the throat. It is an act precisely in the middle way, ours, for which we live distinguished from those who have no faith and with the aspiration to be united to the Angels. We have not yet arrived, but we are on the way; we don't have that happiness yet, but here we sigh. What is the usefulness of abstaining a little from the food and the pleasure of the meat? The flesh presses against the ground, the mind tends upward; It is carried by the love, is retarded by the weight. In this regard, Scripture says: The body subject to corruption weighs the soul and the earthly dwelling of the senses lies in the mind of many thoughts. If, therefore, the flesh on Earth is a burden to the soul, a baggage that weighs its flight, the more one places its joys in its higher life, the more it lays down of its land baggage. Here's what we do when we fast.
Fasting does not seem like a thing of little importance or superfluous; Those who practice it, according to the customs of the church, do not think among themselves, do not say among themselves, listening to the tempter who suggests in the intimate: "What fast to do?. Defraud your life, do not give her the pleasure; you get yourself a pain, you make yourself an executioner and a tormentor of yourself. Can god please you to torment yourself? It would be cruel if you'd like your pain. " But you answer to the tempter: "I give myself a torment, but because he forgives me, I punish myself because he will help me, to please his eyes, to get to the delight of his sweetness. Even the victim is tormented, to be placed on the altar. So my flesh weighs less than my spirit. " To this bad counselor, slave of the belly, answer with this example: "If you, by chance, rode a beast, if you mounted a horse that with its unbridled gait could drop you, to make a quiet journey do not the food to that furious, Do not would to tame with hunger what you cannot tame with the bite? My Flesh is my beast while I travel to Jerusalem; it often takes me away, tries to throw me out of the way. My Way is Christ. Shall I not therefore have to curb with fasting the beast that is rushing?".
If anyone understands this, it can check with its own experience how useful the fast. But this flesh, which is now tamed, must always be? As long as it fluctuates in the temporal situation, as long as it is weighted by the mortality condition, it has these changes, clearly visible and dangerous to our spirit. The flesh here in fact is still corruptible, it is not yet risen. The fact is that it will not always be so; now he has not yet the state of the celestial Constitution, we are not yet made equal to the angels of God.
What's the point about that? Do not abandon yourself to the pleasure of the flesh to the illicit and sometimes to put a brake even to what is lawful. Who never puts a brake on lawful things, is contiguous to the illicit. As, for example, brothers, marriage is lawful, illicit adultery; and yet the temperamental men, to keep themselves away from illicit adultery, place a brake even in lawful marriage. It is lawful to drink to satiety, drunkenness is illicit; however, men keep themselves away from the shame of drunkenness, they also rewrite, in part, their freedom to be sated. Let's behave so, brethren; we are temperate and we act consciously, bearing in mind the end of our action. By placing a measure on the pleasure of the flesh, you acquire the pleasure of the spirit.
Therefore, we must consider the end of our fasting in relation to our journey, what is our journey, such as the destination. In fact, even the pagans sometimes fast, but they do not know which is the destination to which we tend. Even the Jews sometimes fast but have not taken the path that we walk. It's like when one tames his horse but takes a wrong path. Even heretics fast. I see their behavior. I wonder what their destination is. "You fast-I say-but please who?" "To God," they answer. "But are you sure that the gift is accepted?". We must first consider this warning: leave your gift and go first to reconcile with your brother. It is not correct to tame one's limbs and to tear down the limbs of Christ. It was written: you hear the clamor of quarrels between you and also provoked and hit with punches those who stand under your jurisdiction. This is not the fast I want, the Lord says. It would therefore be to disapprove your fasting if you were at the same time excessively severe with your servant. How can you approve your fast if you don't recognize your brother? I'm not looking for what food you want, but what food you love. Tell me what food you love because I can consent to the fact that you abstain. Do you love the food of justice? Maybe you will answer me, "I love him".
May it therefore manifest your righteousness? I consider it right in fact that you fulfil your service to your superior, so that your employee fulfils it towards you. We were talking about the flesh, which is inferior to the spirit, subject to it; it is made to be tamed and regulated by him. You behave with it so that you obey and ration your food because you want it to be subject to you. Recognize who is greater; recognize who is superior, if you want the lower rightly to subside to you. It is nonsense if your flesh obeys you and you do not obey to your God. By itself you are condemned for the fact that it obeys you. Obeying is testifying against you..