As we enter into the Nativity Fast for the next forty days we will enter into the arena of struggle in anticipation of our Savior’s birth. We will seek to disengage ourselves from our attachment to all earthly things so that we might receive Him who comes. We will seek to awaken within ourselves a desire for Christ to come anew and afresh in our hearts and in our lives. Let us enter into this fast with joy. Let us look forward to the Feast for which the fast prepares us. Let us prepare our hearts for the Babe of Bethlehem.To help us get back into “fasting” form, I offer a few words from our holy father, St. John of Kronstadt:

“O, how fearful it is to use food and drink for amusement, to eat and drink in excess. A full stomach makes a man lose faith and the fear of God, and makes him unfeeling in prayer, thanksgiving and praise to God. A satiated heart turns away from the Lord and becomes as hard and unfeeling as a stone.”Fasting is a good teacher: (1) It soon makes everybody who fasts understand that a man requires very little food and drink and that in general we are greedy and eat a great deal more than is necessary–that is, than our nature requires. (2) Fasting clearly shows or discloses all the infirmities of our soul, all its weaknesses, deficiencies, sins and passions; just as when muddy, standing water is beginning to be cleaned it shows what reptiles and what sort of dirt it contains. (3) It shows us all the necessity of turning to God with the whole heart, and of seeking His mercy, help and salvation. (4) Fasting shows all the craftiness, cunning and malice of the bodiless spirits, whom have hitherto unwittingly served, and whose cunning, now that we are enlightened by the light of God’s grace, becomes clear, and who now maliciously persecutes us for having left their ways.”When the flesh flourishes, the soul fades; when the flesh has full liberty, the soul is straitened; when the flesh is satiated, the soul hungers; when the flesh is adorned, the soul is deformed; when the flesh overflows with laughter, the soul is surrounded by misfortune; when the flesh is left in the light, the soul is in darkness — in the darkness of hell.”On the importance of learning how to say “NO” to our passions, he writes:”The passions spur us on like cruel drivers, daily urging us, through our love for earthly things, to act in opposition to the Lord and to our own welfare, and to do that which is pleasing to the flatterer, Satan.”