The medicine may be hard to swallow, but its effectiveness is surprising.
Living in a fallen world, we all experience the effects of sin. Many of us are continually bound in a slavery to sin that’s difficult to escape.
Whatever the sin may be, St. Basil has a remedy that he believes will free you from any attachment to sin in your life.
He writes in a homily, “Be of good cheer, for the physician has given you a medicine that destroys sin … fasting — a remedy truly worthy of its appellation — when introduced into the soul, kills off the sin that lurks deep within it.”
Basil firmly believed that fasting gives strength to the sinner, giving us the ability to resist our sinful impulses. He holds up fasting as the secret remedy for our attachments and a sure way to holiness.
Fasting gives birth to prophets and strengthens the powerful; fasting makes lawgivers wise. Fasting is a good safeguard for the soul, a steadfast companion for the body, a weapon for the valiant, and a gymnasium for athletes. Fasting repels temptations, anoints unto piety; it is the comrade of watchfulness and the artificer of chastity. In war it fights bravely, in peace it teaches stillness.
In his homily Basil explains how fasting was an essential part of the lives of biblical characters such as Moses and Daniel and even Jesus himself. If fasting was so important for them, should we not adopt it into our lives?
At the same time, Basil admits that fasting from food should be further reinforced by an exercise of charity. He warns, “You do not eat meat, but you devour your brother. You abstain from wine, but do not restrain yourself from insulting others. You wait until evening to eat, but waste your day in law courts.”
Fasting must be accompanied by a positive practice of virtue.
So if you want to conquer sin in your life, try some type of fasting. Especially during Lent, this can transform our hearts and detach it from any sinful habits that remain in our soul.