THE SPIRITUALITY OF FASTING BY H.H. POPE SHENOUDA III

There is a small book by Pope Shenouda called The Spirituality of Fasting.   The book is an excellent book and can be read online at:  http://tasbeha.org/content/hh_books/fasting/index.html.

Pope Shenouda is the Pope of Alexandria and the Patriarch of All Africa of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.  He is the head of The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria.  He is a great churchman of our day and has guided the Coptic Orthodox Church through much change and expansion beyond the African continent.

The title “Pope” comes from the Greek word ‘pappas’ and the Latin word ‘papa’.  We are most familiar with this title as it is used for the Western Bishop of Rome – the ‘Pope of Rome’.  Whereas Pope Shenouda is referred to by his flock as ‘Pope’, there is no association with the Pope of Rome or the Papacy of Rome.

The book, The Spirituality of Fasting is a very helpful book for those fasting during Lent and wanting to have a better understanding of the spiritual benefits of fasting.  Fasting, its purpose and benefits, is terribly misunderstood in our culture.  Pope Shenouda’s book puts the art of fasting in the correct context.  Here’s why I like this book so much:

  1. The book is concerned about the spiritual benefits of fasting.  It is practical and useful in the every day.  It talks of fasting in terms of the love of God and the growth of the soul.
  2. Each paragraph of this short book is a simple and useful reflection of the discipline of fasting.  One could take a paragraph or two a day and reflect on the lessons and insights found there.
  3. The book is strongly rooted in the scriptures.  One can clearly see how pervasive and basic fasting has been throughout the history of man.
  4. The book is written in simple terms.  There are no footnotes or abstract and technical wanderings.  Pope Shenouda keeps his language simple and straightforward.


This book is great for anyone wanting to keep a better fast, better understand the spiritual benefits behind fasting, or who need help explaining fasting to family and friends.   If you are keeping a fasting discipline this Great Lent, I highly recommend you read a little from this book everyday.

Question:  How does fasting fit into your Lenten season?
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