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Principles and parameters of fasting


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#21 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 05:48 PM

I had Fr David's basic point in my mind when I posted. Likely what he has posted was part of the complex of ideas, related to the nature of blood, that was held by the pre modern world and which contributed to our present fasting regime.

It shouldn't be discounted though because obviously if prepared without too much fanfare, shell fish is lighter than fish and especialy meat.

In Christ
-Fr Raphael

#22 Father David Moser

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 07:00 PM

the complex of ideas, related to the nature of blood, that was held by the pre modern world ...
It shouldn't be discounted though


And while I don't insist that my ideas are "right" and inherently true - I would observe that the roots of many of such myths or legends or primitive ideas are indeed based in some kind of fact - or at least come from observations of nature. Thus even though it might not be "the way it is", neither can we just discount the whole thing as a primitive myth created by ignorant men.

Fr David

#23 Olga

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 10:00 PM

In my experience, I have encountered the "poor man's food" and "bloodless" lines of thought in equal measure in the allowing of non-fish seafood during lenten periods. Historically, fish with fins and scales always brought in a much higher price for fishermen than did the other seafood caught in their nets. An analogy would be the relative price of meat, and that of offal.

It is not only shellfish and crustaceans which have, and only very recently in Western societies, become expensive delicacies. Squid, for instance, was, until about 20 years ago, treated as fishing bait, or "that rubbery stuff" by most Australians not of European or Asian ancestry. :-)

#24 Phoebe K.

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 10:26 PM

Coming from the position of a lifelong vegetarian, I have no view on the effect of meat on a person, but I know from personal experience how having or dairy in the diet can effect how you feel and prayer life.

In Britain even for those who eat meat dairy is the key aspect of the diet, and thus the most challenging part of fast, certainly find it so but dairy is the key aspect of my diet when not fasting.

Phoebe

#25 George Y

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 05:14 AM

My mother always made us abstain from everything, and I mean everything. She fasts for 40 days without consuming dairy, meat of any kind including sea creatures, wine and spirits, and olive oil. She says vegetable or canola oil is an acceptable loophole.

One day, about 10 years ago I found out my friends ate shellfish and calamari while fasting. I was astounded and the first chance I got I asked my parish priest if this was acceptable. He affirmed this revelation, so I confronted my mother. She said the priest, being Cypriot, doesn't know how we Spartans fast and said only we are that strict. She then said I could indulge in this "absurdity" if I wanted to, but I would only be hurting myself.

Under her rules I could only manage two weeks of fasting back to back. Now that I adopted the shellfish idea, I can barely hang in for a week... to be quite honest, I'm still not sure about feast and fast days and why this practice was adopted by the church. I was always told it was because Christ fasted for 40 days in the desert, but I'm sure that explanation is way off.

#26 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 02:31 PM

George Y wrote:

to be quite honest, I'm still not sure about feast and fast days and why this practice was adopted by the church. I was always told it was because Christ fasted for 40 days in the desert, but I'm sure that explanation is way off.


This interpretation of the 40 day fasts is indeed found very early on in the Fathers. As you say it refers to Christ's fasting for 40 days in the wilderness, and thus invokes during fast periods, our sharing in His fast as it were.

In Christ
-Fr Raphael

#27 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 02:45 PM

The forty-day fasts of the Nativity and of Great are different in nature. The Nativity fast anticipates the joy of the Nativity of Christ and is less rigorous than Great Lent; and we, as it were, journey light to the Nativity, rather as the Magi journeyed towards Bethlehem. The Nativity fast is punctuated with various feasts: the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple, St Catherine, St Andrew, St Nicholas, the Conception of the Theotokos, the Sunday of the Forefathers, St Ignatius, and the Sunday of the Righteous.

#28 Jonathan Gress

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 08:35 AM

My mother always made us abstain from everything, and I mean everything. She fasts for 40 days without consuming dairy, meat of any kind including sea creatures, wine and spirits, and olive oil. She says vegetable or canola oil is an acceptable loophole.

One day, about 10 years ago I found out my friends ate shellfish and calamari while fasting. I was astounded and the first chance I got I asked my parish priest if this was acceptable. He affirmed this revelation, so I confronted my mother. She said the priest, being Cypriot, doesn't know how we Spartans fast and said only we are that strict. She then said I could indulge in this "absurdity" if I wanted to, but I would only be hurting myself.

Under her rules I could only manage two weeks of fasting back to back. Now that I adopted the shellfish idea, I can barely hang in for a week... to be quite honest, I'm still not sure about feast and fast days and why this practice was adopted by the church. I was always told it was because Christ fasted for 40 days in the desert, but I'm sure that explanation is way off.


Are you talking about the Nativity Fast? The Nativity Fast has always been a relaxed fast "with oil", except for Wednesdays and Fridays, of course. Whether or not shellfish is permitted is controversial, but the Greek tradition I'm familiar with is that shellfish are permitted on oil days but not on "dry" days.

I don't actually know how the 40 days fast before Nativity came about. Bishop Kallistos Ware has an excellent discussion of the history of Great Lent in the introduction to his translation of the Triodion, but I don't know where you'd find information about the Nativity Fast.




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