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What we are giving up for Lent


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#1 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 09:31 AM

I thought it would be interesting to see what each of us has decided to do without during Lent.

Things that take up too much of our time - time that should be spent with God. Things that stroke our egos, that harm our bodies, etc.

I have decided that I will read the New Testament from the start to the finish, slowly and thoroughly, in an effort to gain a clearer understanding of the wise words in it.



I have decided that I will limit my intake of food - trying to chew each bite 30 times thus giving my brain a chance to tell me that I have eaten enough before I devour two plates of food.................

I have decided that I will limit my use of the Internet.

I have decided to make an effort to cleanse my mind, my body and my house of everything that is harmful, or takes up too much space, or does me harm. Anything at all that obstructs my efforts to devote my life to God.

I will ask that God forgive me, once more, for the way my mind refuses to allow Him to guide my life and which deludes me into thinking that I am a much better manager of my life than He is.

Effie

#2 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 01:52 PM

What we are giving up for Lent


Our own will.

#3 Michael Stickles

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 02:30 PM

My primary change for Lent isn't really a "giving up". It's to spend a greater proportion of my "free time" with my family, especially the younger children.

And, hopefully, to not "change back" once Lent is over.

Michael

#4 Joshua G.

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 02:59 PM

I always feel wierd discussing this. Maybe it's just my own struggles, but I feel like I cheapen my resolve when I talk about it. is it just me?

#5 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 03:29 PM

In general, I prefer not to think about what I give up, but rather on what I add to my spiritual devotions. We are not giving things up for God, but simply avoiding certain things in our lives to better concentrate on and prepare for the Great Feast of Holy Pascha.

From the OCA Rubrics for 2009: Concerning Fasting
What precisely do the rules of fasting demand? Neither in ancient nor in modern times has there ever been exact uniformity, but most Orthodox authorities agree on the following rules:

On weekdays (Monday to Friday inclusive) during the seven weeks of Lent, there are restrictions both on the number of meals taken daily and on the types of food permitted; but when a meal is allowed, there is no fixed limitation on the quantity of food to be eaten.

  • On weekdays of the first week, fasting is particularly severe. According to strict observance, in the course of the five initial days of Lent, only two meals are to be eaten, one on Wednesday and the other on Friday, in both cases after the Liturgy of the Presanctified. On the other three days, those who have the strength are encouraged to keep an absolute fast; those for whom this proves impractical may eat on Tuesday and Thursday (but not, if possible, on Monday), in the evening after Vespers. they they may take bread and water, or perhaps tea or fruit-juice, but not a cooked meal. It should be added at one that in practice today these rules are commonly relaxed. At the meals on Wednesday and Friday xerophagy is prescribed. Literally this means 'dry eating'. Strictly speaking, it signifies that we may eat only vegetables cooked with water and salt, and also such things as fruit, nuts, bread and honey. In practice, octopus and shellfish are also allowed on days of xerophagy; likewise vegetable margarine and corn or other vegetable oil, not made from olives. But the following categories of food are definitely excluded:
    • meat
    • animal products (cheese, milk, butter, eggs, lard, drippings)
    • fish (i. e. fish with backbones)
    • oil (i. e. olive oil) and wine (all alcoholic drinks)
  • On weekdays in the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth weeks, one meal a day is permitted, to be taken in the afternoon following Vespers, and at this meal xerography is to be observed.
  • Holy Week. On the first three days there is one meal each day, with xerography; but some try to keep a complete fast on these days, or else they eat only uncooked food, as on the opening days of the first week. On Holy Thursday one meal is eaten, with wine and oil (i. e. olive oil). On Great and Holy Friday those who have the strength follow the practice of the early Church and keep a total fast. Those unable to do this may eat bread, with a little water, tea, or fruit-juice, but not until sunset, or at any rate not until after the veneration of the Plashchanitsa at Vespers. On Great and Holy Saturday there is in principle no meal, since according to the ancient practice after the end of the Liturgy of St. Basil the faithful remained in church for the reading of the Acts of the Apostles, and for their sustenance were given a little bread and dried fruit, with a cup of wine. If, as usually happens now, they return home for a meal, they may use wine but not oil; for on this one Saturday, alone among Saturdays of the year, olive oil is not permitted.
  • On Saturdays and Sundays in Lent, with the exception of Holy Saturday, xerography is relaxed and two main meals may be taken in the usual way, around mid-day and in the evening, with wine and olive oil; but meat, animal products and fish are not allowed.
  • On the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25) and Palm Sunday fish is permitted as well as wine and oil, but meat and animal products are not allowed.
  • Wine and oil are permitted on the following days, if they fall on a weekday in the second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth week; First and Second Finding of the Head of St. John the Baptist (Feb. 24), Repose of St. Raphael (Feb. 27), Holy Martyrs of Sebaste (Mar 9), Forefeast of the Annunciation (Mar 24), Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel (Mar 26), Repose of St. Innocent (Mar. 31), Repose of St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow (Apr. 7), Holy Greatmartyr and Victorybearer George (Apr. 23), Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark (Apr. 25), as well as the Patronal Feast of the church or monastery.
  • Wine and oil are also allowed on Wednesday and Thursday of the fifth week, because of the vigil for the Great Canon. Wine is allowed—and, according to some authorities, oil as well—on Friday in the same week, because of the vigil for the Akathist Hymn.
It has always been held that these rules of fasting should be relaxed in the case of anyone elderly or in poor health, In present-day practice, even for those in good health, the full strictness of the fast is usually mitigated. On weekdays—except, perhaps, during the first week or Holy Week—it is now common to eat two cooked meals daily instead of one. From the scond until the sixth week, many Orthodox use wine, and perhaps oil also, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and less commonly on Mondays as well. Permission is often given to eat fish in these weeks. Personal factors need to be taken into account, as for example, the situation of an isolated Orthodox living in the same household of a non-Orthodox, or obliged to take meals in a factory or school lunchroom. In cases of uncertainty each should seek the advice of his or her spiritual father.

At all times it is essential to bear in mind that "you are not under the Law but under grace" (Rom. 6:14) and that "the letter kills, but the spirit gives life" (2 Cor. 3:6). The rules of fasting, while they need to be taken seriously, are not to be interpreted with dour and pedantic legalism; "for the Kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17).


Some say what money you are obviously not spending on food should be given as alms, and of course every opportunity to attend the many services of the Church during this time should be taken advantage of if circumstances permit.

Herman

#6 Stephen Wendland

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 06:00 PM

I have also heard the fast described, not as what we give up but what we gain. Hopefully we become more conscious of our dependence upon God. We are given a chance for repentance and restoration to the proper order of things, between the spiritual and material. It would seem that this idea is in stark contrast to the Roman Catholic fast that puts emphasis on penance, where any break becomes a grave sin, rather than focusing on the mystery of repentance and forgiveness. Since I am fairly new to the Church and fasting, I will make my best effort to follow the fasting guidelines prescribed. Please forgive and pray for me a sinner. Stephen

#7 Michael Stickles

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 06:59 PM

I always feel wierd discussing this. Maybe it's just my own struggles, but I feel like I cheapen my resolve when I talk about it. is it just me?


Not at all. It's a well-known psychological effect. For some people, talking about what they plan to do helps move them towards the doing; for others, it makes it feel already "done" in some way and saps their will to do it. If you fall into the latter group, sharing your plans would probably be a bad idea.

Michael

#8 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 09:52 AM

I have heard it said that the kind of Lent you have determines the kind of Pascha you will have.

#9 Kusanagi

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 10:22 AM

This lent i think i will give up eating dark chocolate.

#10 Father David Moser

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 02:46 PM

I am giving up a few useless things in order to acquire the one thing needful.

Fr David Moser

#11 Stephen Wendland

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 03:30 PM

I did not grow up Orthodox, which can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. From what I understand, the Church tells us what we are to abstain from and I have been guided to follow this. I mean no disrespect to anyone when I ask, but do we pick and choose other things to abstain from as well? If we follow the fast as prescribed, is this not sufficient? Again forgive my questioning as I am only trying to gain a larger picture of how fasting is practiced. My knowledge comes mostly from books which sets an ideal standard or ultimate goal. I have heard that generally abstaining from obsessive entertainment is a good thing. Anyway I am just wondering why anyone would want to add things to the extensive fast that already exists? If practiced completely, It would in itself be quite a task and labor of love. Is there a secondary, or personal fast that is allowed with time and growth and the approval of a priest? I admit there are numerous things that I do not understand. I also pray that everyone that visits here will have a meaningful and Christ centered fast, which will draw us all into a deeper communion with God and each other.

Stephen

#12 Nina

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 06:21 PM

I can't abstain from food this Lent. Andreas, I was fasting very strictly last Lent to the point that I got so ill, but my Pascha was difficult and full of tears since I was ill even past Easter.

Other than that I am just trying to be me (although I am a sinner) and improve myself. Michael makes a good point, that it feels not right if I do something during Lent and afterward I go back to the old ways. With the help of God I am just trying to do something that I will keep always.

#13 Anthony Stokes

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 08:35 PM

I mean no disrespect to anyone when I ask, but do we pick and choose other things to abstain from as well? If we follow the fast as prescribed, is this not sufficient? ... I have heard that generally abstaining from obsessive entertainment is a good thing.
Stephen


Stephen,
your second sentence that I have quoted is more along what I think of when "adding" to the fasting already prescribed. You are correct that one would not need to add anything to the fast, since the strictest rules as outlined in Met. Kallistos' article from the Triodion, which is what Herman posted earlier, are quite enough fasting already. Obviously, the strictness there is not followed completely today because of our weaknesses.

But, when people say that they are doing more, it usually has to do not with eating, but with spiritual matters. One might try to make sure to spend more time in prayer, or read more spiritual works. For some though, this may mean giving up something that they regularly do. I am a librarian, and I read quite a bit of fiction. I've personally decided this Lent that anytime I think I want to read a novel or something like that, that I will read a saint's life or some other Orthodox work instead. It may mean for someone else that they don't watch TV as much and spend that time reading the scriptures. It could be many things. But I think that is what most people might be referring to when giving something up. Maybe not. As Kusanagi said, maybe it means not eating lobster or dark chocolate, which are technically in some instances foods that you can eat during the fast.

Sbdn. Anthony

#14 Anthony Stokes

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 08:37 PM

Some say what money you are obviously not spending on food should be given as alms, and of course every opportunity to attend the many services of the Church during this time should be taken advantage of if circumstances permit.

Herman


This is what I have always heard as well. I believe that the article you posted is from the Lenten Triodion and written by Met. Kallistos Ware. Does the OCA have it posted somewhere online?

Sbdn. Anthony

#15 Michael Stickles

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 02:13 AM

This is what I have always heard as well. I believe that the article you posted is from the Lenten Triodion and written by Met. Kallistos Ware. Does the OCA have it posted somewhere online?

Sbdn. Anthony


I'll pop in on that - the OCA does indeed have posted on their website an excerpt from Met. Kallistos' article on fasting in the Lenten Triodion. What Herman posted covers most of it.

In Christ,
Michael

#16 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 08:07 AM

Stephen,
your second sentence that I have quoted is more along what I think of when "adding" to the fasting already prescribed. You are correct that one would not need to add anything to the fast, since the strictest rules as outlined in Met. Kallistos' article from the Triodion, which is what Herman posted earlier, are quite enough fasting already. Obviously, the strictness there is not followed completely today because of our weaknesses.

But, when people say that they are doing more, it usually has to do not with eating, but with spiritual matters. One might try to make sure to spend more time in prayer, or read more spiritual works. For some though, this may mean giving up something that they regularly do. I am a librarian, and I read quite a bit of fiction. I've personally decided this Lent that anytime I think I want to read a novel or something like that, that I will read a saint's life or some other Orthodox work instead. It may mean for someone else that they don't watch TV as much and spend that time reading the scriptures. It could be many things. But I think that is what most people might be referring to when giving something up. Maybe not. As Kusanagi said, maybe it means not eating lobster or dark chocolate, which are technically in some instances foods that you can eat during the fast.

Sbdn. Anthony


Yes, this is exactly what I meant when I listed the things that I will do. And also, as has already been mentioned, for some people listing the things they intend to do helps them, for others it doesn't. Lent and fasting are very personal and each person is different. Just one example : For some watching TV is OK - it is something they can either do or not do, for others it has become a habit - one that needs to be broken.

Before Lent each year I find that it is best for me to have an in-depth talk with my spiritual father and he then advises me of the kind of fast I am capable of undertaking and what things I will need to restrict in order to subdue my "ego" and devote this period to my spiritual progress.

Effie

#17 Nina

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 10:11 AM

Before Lent each year I find that it is best for me to have an in-depth talk with my spiritual father and he then advises me of the kind of fast I am capable of undertaking and what things I will need to restrict in order to subdue my "ego" and devote this period to my spiritual progress.

Effie


This is the best dear Effie. We all need to do this. Also Geronda Porphyrios suggests in-depth talks/confessions as the best way te purge many impurities from our conscience (and subconscience).

#18 Vasiliki D.

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 12:46 PM

I am giving up the influence and ideas of Western thinking.

#19 Kseniya M.

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 04:41 PM

I'm one of those who prefers not to talk about what I'm personally giving up, but I do think about these things. Great Lent is a time not just for fasting but for paying less attention to the things of the body in order to focus more on our relationship with God. So in addition to the very good ideas of doing more spiritual reading, giving up television, and things of that sort, here are some things that come to mind because of my own infirmities (my serious environmental illness / chemical injury / MCS).

Don't primp the body. Here in the US, we can really put on the dog, especially on Sunday. If you're a fashion slave, wear basic clothing instead. Wear less jewelry. Wear less perfume/cologne/aftershave/lotion/bodyspray/etc, or none at all. (IOW, you don't need to announce your presence with your smell.) Use a simpler hairstyle, one that takes less time to care for. Don't luxuriate in the shower, and maybe make the water temperature just slightly cooler than you'd like (not to get a chill, just not as warm as you'd prefer). These are very simple things that are not very noticeable to others, but which might challenge you.

Just some thoughts.

-kseniya

#20 Stephen Wendland

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 06:36 PM

Thank you sbdn. Anthony and Effie for those clarifications. The key here seems to be guidance, otherwise the danger would be to end up in all kinds of abuses of the body and/or spirit, only to find oneself in a state much worse. I wonder at times how much the R. Catholic idea of penance has crept in to the mind of some? I have heard the testimony of a few Orthodox who seem to go to elaborate extremes and employ any number of harsh methods upon themselves. The question here is, how much should be shared or mentioned to others? and how much is should be taken books or our own thoughts and not spiritual advice? It can be a little confusing reading the Patristic Father's on fasting since they are usually speaking to monks. This would reinforce the idea of having a spiritual father to steer one on the right path. I am in a good sized church with only one priest and no deacons. The priest literally does not have the time to have long conversations with me regarding my spiritual life. Everything seems to be very general in my experience. I might have to start or find a thread dealing with spiritual fatherhood and expectations from both ends since this would go outside of the scope of the original theme here.
In Christ, Stephen




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