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Lenten dessert?


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#1 Algernon

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 12:36 PM

Every year, my birthday takes place during Great Lent. Every year, my godmother bakes me her famous "lenten" birthday cake recipe. It is delicious, but is "lenten" in that it has no dairy or eggs.

 

My question is this: Is it really possible to have a lenten dessert, when it is no different in any discernible way from a non-lenten dessert? I thought the point of fasting was self-denial, not simply the exclusion of certain ingredients.

 

This question applies to other "lenten" foods as well, like meatless sausage or veggie cheese, etc. If it is exactly like what you would be eating on any non-fasting day--other than lacking certain ingredients--is it really "fast-friendly" or "lenten" food?

 

It often seems as though Orthodox fasting practice is just the Christian version of kosher? 

Am I wrong here?

 

Thanks

 

A



#2 Jean-Serge

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 02:17 PM

Can you post the recipe please? I think this might be interesting for some people. This said. The point of fasting, in terms of food is indeed :

 

- exclusion of certain ingredients : animal, fish and anything deriving from them

- eating once a day after the 3rd hour (thing generally ignored by many people)

- no alcoholic beverage and oil (all oils), excepted on Saturday and Sunday

 

Following this rules, you will see that your cake and meatless sausages  might be prohibited because they might contain oil (today they put oil in everything), which would leave you with bread, fruits, vegetables etc, something less tasty. Actually, some ingredients are prohibited because they are known for stimulating the passions, in particular meat. Regarding the look for substitutes,it seems to me in contradiction with the spirit of the fast that is about thinking less about food. Sometimes, there is such a quest for substitutes that one might think more about food that in normal time.  Another point of the fasting is the idea of eating with moderation too, so that you are still a bit hungry after eating and not full. 

 

Concerning your case, in theory, birthdays and  namedays should not be celebrated during lenten periods. But I do no know what is implied by celebrating a birthday or a namesday because celebrating a birthday is typically for me something for children, when you are happy to grow; doing it as an adult seems strange to me and in some cultures that are not westernized, it is seen in fact as childish and no adult does it. I once talked with someone from Djibuti who to Europe firts, he is 25, and he was surprised to see grown-ups in Europe celebrating their birthdays.



#3 Algernon

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 03:00 PM

Actually, some ingredients are prohibited because they are known for stimulating the passions, in particular meat.

 

Could you elaborate on this please?

 

... celebrating a birthday...as an adult seems strange to me and in some cultures that are not westernized, it is seen in fact as childish and no adult does it. I once talked with someone from Djibuti who to Europe firts, he is 25, and he was surprised to see grown-ups in Europe celebrating their birthdays.

 

It's very common here in the U.S. for adults to celebrate birthdays. But that's really not the point. The point is that excluding certain ingredients is done so for the purpose of self-denial, is it not? So how is it denying self to eat a "lenten" cake that is different from a non-lenten cake only in that it contains no forbidden ingredients? (I think she uses apple sauce rather than oil) 



#4 Jean-Serge

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 11:49 PM

The Fathers insisted that some foods specifically meat, animals and so on inflamed the passions, along with excessive food, and made people heavy for spiritual works. That is the reason why they are prohibited during the fasting periods. So fasting is more about tackling the passions and acquiring divine grace with the tools that we have (abstention from food feeding the passions i.e meat, eating less) than about self-denial (as far as I understand).

 

Fasting is not about anyone deciding for his own rules but following the rules of the church that are inspired taking into account human nature that is the same since 2,000 years.

 

 

For me, the main problem would be celebrating a birthday during a fasting period, which is strictly forbidden by the canons.



#5 Algernon

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 11:53 PM

For me, the main problem would be celebrating a birthday during a fasting period, which is strictly forbidden by the canons.

 

May I ask which canons?



#6 Jean-Serge

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Posted 07 April 2015 - 06:31 AM

It is canon 52 of Laodicea. From the pedalion in English downloadable online.

 


CANON LII
 
That weddings and birthday' celebrations must not be held during Great Lent.
 
Interpretation
 
Since weddings and the feasts which some persons indulged in on account of the day on which they were born are directly opposed to the mourning and fasting which characterize Great Lent, therefore the present Canon prohibits the celebration of such occasions during Great Lent. See also Ap. c. LXIX.'

 



#7 Olga

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Posted 07 April 2015 - 07:08 AM

It is canon 52 of Laodicea. From the pedalion in English downloadable online.

 


 

 

That canon says nothing about namedays. Celebrating the commemoration of one's patron saint is a perfectly Orthodox practice.

 

Moreover, there are many parishes whose patronal feast falls during Great Lent. The celebration of a patronal feast usually involves the parish hosting a lunch after the festal liturgy for those attending. Guests at these lunches often include clergy from  other parishes, perhaps even the local bishop.



#8 Algernon

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Posted 07 April 2015 - 10:05 AM

It is canon 52 of Laodicea. From the pedalion in English downloadable online.

 


 

 

Thanks.



#9 Jean-Serge

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Posted 07 April 2015 - 05:04 PM

That canon says nothing about namedays. Celebrating the commemoration of one's patron saint is a perfectly Orthodox practice.

 

Moreover, there are many parishes whose patronal feast falls during Great Lent. The celebration of a patronal feast usually involves the parish hosting a lunch after the festal liturgy for those attending. Guests at these lunches often include clergy from  other parishes, perhaps even the local bishop.

 

My interlocutor was asking about the canon about celebrating birthdays, not namedays!



#10 Jean-Serge

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Posted 07 April 2015 - 05:22 PM

Canon 51 of the same council of Laodicea says, the following, I had it in mind when I wrote about no celebration of namedays :


 

51. That during Great Lent the birthdays of the Martyrs ought not to be celebrated, but commemorations of the holy Martyrs ought to be held on Saturdays and Sundays.

 

The present Canon is consistent with the above XLIX. For it says that we ought not to celebrate the birthdays and commemorations and feasts of the Martyrs with a complete Liturgy on any other days in Great Lent, but must celebrate them even in this period if they
happen to fall on the Saturdays and Sundays in Lent itself. For birthdays and their feasts being occasions for joy and for breaking fasts, it is
inappropriate for them to be celebrated on the mournful days of Great Lent, but it is appropriate for them to be celebrated on the indulgent and joyful days thereof, which are Saturday and Sunday. See also Ap. LXIX.

 


Once again, the question is what people refer to by the word celebration. In this website, a priest writes :

 

Traditionally, even name days which fall during Great Lent are celebrated either before or after the Fast. And if this is the case with a godly custom like a name day, then how much more so when it comes to parties or theatre-going. Again, exceptions can be made for special events, but then there is the danger of every event becoming “special”.

 


Edited by Jean-Serge, 07 April 2015 - 05:32 PM.


#11 Olga

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Posted 07 April 2015 - 10:57 PM

Traditionally, even name days which fall during Great Lent are celebrated either before or after the Fast. And if this is the case with a godly custom like a name day, then how much more so when it comes to parties or theatre-going. Again,exceptions can be made for special events, but then there is the danger of every event becoming “special”

 

This is simply one man's opinion. Parishes all over the Orthodox world celebrate their patronal feast during Great Lent, which is the nameday of the parish, and likely the nameday of parishioners, with episcopal approval. Never have I encountered a relocation of a parish feast day to fall outside of Lent, and how could it be? It makes no sense liturgically or otherwise.


 

The only exception I have come across is the feast of Great-martyr St George, to Bright Tuesday if this feast falls during Holy Week. Yet even this is a peculiarity within the Greek church. To my knowledge, no other church does this.



#12 Jean-Serge

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Posted 08 April 2015 - 10:47 AM

You make a confusion between celebrating the parish feast at the date of the menologion (which cannot be moved of course) and celebration of one's individual namesday which the priest I quoted is referring too. By the way, the question remain opened on what is meant by celebrating.


Edited by Jean-Serge, 08 April 2015 - 10:53 AM.


#13 Father David Moser

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Posted 08 April 2015 - 01:56 PM

The only exception I have come across is the feast of Great-martyr St George, to Bright Tuesday if this feast falls during Holy Week. Yet even this is a peculiarity within the Greek church. To my knowledge, no other church does this.

And this phenomenon is nothing more than a relic of the adoption of the new calendar (revised Julian) for the fixed feasts.  On the traditional Church calendar (Julian/old), the feast of St George always falls during the Paschal season and never falls prior to Pascha.



#14 Algernon

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 12:02 PM

Why is it that olive oil in particular is forbidden during Lent? Why are other oils okay?



#15 Olga

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 12:13 PM

Why is it that olive oil in particular is forbidden during Lent? Why are other oils okay?

 

In most Orthodox traditions, all oils are avoided on no-oil days.



#16 Algernon

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Posted 11 April 2015 - 10:39 AM

In most Orthodox traditions, all oils are avoided on no-oil days.

 

*sigh* Okay, in those traditions where olive oil is specifically excluded and other oils are not...why is that?



#17 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 12 April 2015 - 10:47 AM

Christ is Risen!

 

I don't know of traditions where olive oil is excluded and other oils not: which are they? In any case, olive oil is not permitted at certain times because (a) it makes food feel 'heavy' and makes one less inclined to prayer, and (b) it has, since, ancient times, been considered to stimulate a person's 'amorous propensities' (as Dr Johnson put it). As my late spiritual father said when explaining these things, 'it's no good for monks'. (I did ask him why, then, olives are permitted but not their oil. He replied, 'have you seen how many olives it takes to make a litre of olive oil?').


Edited by Reader Andreas, 12 April 2015 - 10:48 AM.


#18 Olga

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Posted 12 April 2015 - 12:32 PM

To add to Andreas' post, oil of any sort makes food more palatable and satisfying, irrespective of cooking method. It is a staple, fundamental ingredient of many a dish. This is also true in dishes which are not cooked, such as salads. Even a humble piece of bread can be transformed by dipping it in oil before eating it.






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