By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
"Fasting Works Miracles"
With this title the newspaper To Vima (02/21/2010) presented a study of the University of Crete conducted on 609 children between the ages of 5 and 15.5 years old from Thessaloniki, 12.1% of whom "completely fasted" according to the rules of the Church.
The scientific director of the study, Dr. Anthony Kafatos, Professor of Preventive Medicine and Nutrition at the School of Medicine of the University of Crete, noted that "fasting does not affect their normal development (of children), as previously believed".
The most important finding of the study is that "the children who fasted, either on all days of the fast or less, consumed very little calories compared to those who never fasted. Moreover the children who fasted recorded limited health hazards such as saturated fatty acids and less consumption of meat."
This is particularly important, because experts say that in our country where 22.5 % of the population is obese, "fasting, which is a key element of the Greek Mediterranean diet, can give a solution to the problem of obesity in the most healthy way."
With this in mind, the reporter who did the story, Mahi Tratsa, writes: "The nutritional requirements of the Orthodox Church seems to work ... miraculously for the health of children. New studies from the University of Crete show that 180 to 200 days of fasting a year, does not put a 'brake' to the orderly development of those children who consume animal food, but assists with maintaining a healthy weight, against growing childhood obesity."
But the Church gave a theological meaning to fasting. It is not only for the health of the body, but especially for the health of the soul. This shows that the person fasting is making an offering to God and the Church, that he wants to belong to the spiritual army of the Church and is obedient to the regulations that constitute it.
We then recognize with the practice of fasting the error committed by the first-formed who by eating the forbidden fruit lost their communion with God, and we orient ourselves towards the eschatological state of the righteous, when we will then only feed on the uncreated glory of God.
Also with fasting we remove our minds from the enslavement to matter and turn towards spiritual things, in this way preparing ourselves personally to participate in the festivities, which are referred to in the preparations made with fasting.
Thus, the fasting done by all those who are not prohibited for health reasons, "works miracles", because it offers health to body and soul and makes a person be his own master, free of the passions and obedient children of God and the Church.
Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "Η νηστεία κάνει θαύματα", February 2010. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
Calcium, Nutrient and Food Intake of Greek Orthodox Christian Monks During a Fasting and Non-fasting Week