One of the most common misconceptions is how we ought to view the fasting period. As mentioned by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, the devil gets annoyed when we start fasting as it disciplines the body. The devil gets particularly annoyed during Lent, as this is the most spiritual time of the year.
One of the ways to distract us from spirituality is when the devil tries to shift our focus to food ingredients. By doing that, one can have the idea that they are fasting, while in reality, it is just a period of dieting. Some are reading the ingredients lists for 55 days, without having done anything to improve their relationship with God. Unfortunately, this is a very successful way to distract the believer from God.
When His Holiness Pope Shenouda III was questioned about certain food types, his answer was very clear. He said we all know what is vegan and what is not, and when in doubt we should not eat or drink something. In this way, we minimise the amount of time spent on being busy with food-related things.
Abba John Colobos (405 AD), also known as Abba John the Dwarf/Short, teaches us an important lesson on this matter. He said: ‘’If a king wanted to take possession of his enemy’s city, he would begin by cutting off the water and the food and so his enemies, dying of hunger, would submit to him. It is the same with the passions of the flesh; if a man goes about fasting and hungry the enemies of his soul grow weak’’. The devil will never tell us ‘’stop your spiritual activities’’, but he will instead make us not use the tools that we have been given. If he wants to attack us, as Abba John explains, he will first make us cut off our spiritual nutrition and then we will be defenseless.