-- G. K. Chesterton, Heretics
- - - - - - - - - -Perseverance in faith, devotion, and virtue is assured by three things: prayer, fasting, and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting gains entrance, mercy receives. These three things, prayer, fasting, and mercy, are all one and they give life to each other.
Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. Let no one try to separate them, for this is impossible. If we have only one of them, if we have not all three together, we have nothing. Whoever prays, then, must also fast; whoever fasts must also show mercy. If we want our own petitions heard we must hear the petitions of others. God's ear will be open to us if we do not turn a deaf ear to other people.
When we fast we should understand what it means to be really hungry. If we want God to take account of our hunger we must feel for the hunger of others. If we hope for mercy we must show mercy. If we look for kindness we must show kindness. If we want to receive we must give. Only a shameless person would ask for himself what he refused to give to others. In showing mercy this should be the rule: show it in the same way, with the same generosity, with the same promptness as you would wish it to be shown to you.
-- Peter Chrysologus, Sermo 43; PL 52, 320