Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Back to the fast....

It was a nice week of of feasting on whatever came to mind but now it's time get back to the calendar which says to fast every Wednesday for the betrayal and Friday for His crucifixion until the next Great fasting period, the Dormition Fast August 2-15th.

From the OCA website I pass on the following information:

This form of fasting was passed on in the early Church from Jewish practice. In Matthew, Christ says, “When you fast do not be like the hypocrites,” which indicates that the Jews fasted—it also indicates that Christ assumes that one fasts, for He says “when you fast” not “if you fast.” Fasting is not something that only developed alongside Christianity; rather, it is a practice that had been followed by the Jews, and even Scripture mentions that Christ fasted.

The purpose of fasting is not to “give up” things, nor to do something “sacrificial.” The purpose of fasting is to learn discipline, to gain control of those things that are indeed within our control but that we so often allow to control us. In our culture especially, food dominates the lives of many people. We collect cookbooks. We have an entire TV network devoted to food [the “Food Channel”]. We have eating disorders, diets galore, weight loss pills, liposuction treatments, stomach stapling—all sorts of things that proceed out of the fact that we often allow food, which in an of itself cannot possible control us, to control us. We fast in order to gain control, to discipline ourselves, to gain control of those things that we have allowed to get out of control. Giving up candy—unless one is controlled by candy—is not fasting. It is giving up candy, or it is done with the idea that we fast in order to suffer. But we do not fast in order to suffer. We fast in order to get a grip on our lives and to regain control of those things that have gotten out of control. Further, as we sing during the first week of Great Lent, “while fasting from food, let us also fast from our passions.”

We always struggle with our fasting because to us,  it has become routine and we need to intensify our participation. Few people are aware we fast but it does niggle the back our minds of why we participate and  I suppose in that way is successful in keeping us focused during the week on God as well as just on Sunday.

We do things a bit different as we fast Tuesday evening, Wednesday lunch, Thursday evening and Friday Lunch. To the Orthodox, each day begins at sundown so choose to fast this way starting at sundown Tuesday. This pattern also allows us to extend our thought/prayer process to all the days of the week.

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