– Father Youssef Asaad
“Lord, I am indebted to You… indebted to You for my existence in this human form that resembles You, indebted to You for the holy parents who nurtured me in Your reverence.
I am indebted to You for the spiritual paternal love that intoxicated me in the Church’s fathers.
I am indebted to You for the moments in which I write to You now.
All of this, and countless more, does not compare to my debt to You for the redemption You made for me, and the eternity that opened its doors wide with Your blood before a fallen sinner like me.
Can I ever repay my debt to You? With what resources can I settle it? I cannot, and I find no one who can… Love (which is You) can do all things.
Love has provided me with a means to express my gratitude… and You, Love, do not disdain expression, even if it’s imperfect, but perhaps raise it above fulfilling the debt as well.
So, I offer You my body in fasting… not for discipline, not for virtue, not for obligatory duty, not for the result of habitual repetition, not for emulating others… I offer this fast as an expression of love. I am incapable of repaying Your debt.
I hope You accept it from me through the intercession of Saint Paul, who spoke by Your Spirit in his letters, teaching me: “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1).
I can only do it through You and with Your living blood, the means that makes expression – mere expression – befitting Your majesty.
So, I return to Your divine altar, seeking Your divine blood… I approach the Holy Chalice to sip a drop of Your precious blood as if it sprinkles over every cell of my body that withers during the fasting, lifting it from the cell to the living sacrifice. You, O Father, see it above the sacrifice of love and my symbolic expression. It conveys my destruction, granting me the strength to move from the humiliation of slavery to the freedom of sonship.
How I rejoice now… because when I express my love to You through fasting, I can only do it through You… I rejoice because I am helpless by myself and capable through the offering of Your precious blood.
Thank You, my God, for instructing the bishop in the Church to partake of the Eucharist daily during fasting (Canonical Decree 38, Chapter 15). For I ensure Your presence every day at the nearest altar to my dwelling.
Help me, my God, in every fast: while abstaining from food, help me remain committed daily to attending the divine liturgy, filling myself with You and partaking of Your pure body and blood.
No matter my daily responsibilities, help me, Lord, so that the primary responsibility during fasting days is meeting with Your pure blood. Thus, I ensure that my fasting becomes a love sacrifice that is worthy of You.