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Parish fasting


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#1 Mikhail Kolitwenzew

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 05:22 AM

Hello everyone,

I have just recently been going to a Greek Orthodox Church (one which I used to go to a lot when I was a child), and I have a question regarding the fact that in the Parish, during the last 2 coffee hours, they were not keeping the Lenten fasting regulations by serving dairy products.

There are probably 50 people, more or less, which come (yet not regularly, as usually there are 25 which come on Sunday's) to Church. The majority (60-70%) of them are elderly people and the priest himself is 85 and retired.

I am just a bit concerned as to what I should do in this situation. It seems to me that the tradition of fasting has been lost among some of our Christians, and I don't know how to approach the priest in regards to this, because it seems to be fine with him.

I don't want to "rebuke an elder", as St Paul told us not to do, "Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father" (1 Timothy 5:1).



This concerns me because it seems that Traditional, Orthodox Spirituality has been lost in the parish itself, as I can see it in the other parishoners. (You may think i'm judging, but St Nicodemos himself said,

"If the discussion and the question proposed is about the Faith and the traditions of our Church, then even the most meek and quiet and peace-loving person must fight and defend these matters.")



Maybe i'm too "fanatical" maybe?



I don't know. What do you think?


In Christ,

Misha.

Edited by Mikhail Kolitwenzew, 11 April 2011 - 05:38 AM.


#2 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 09:44 AM

The best thing to do is to simply not partake of non-fasting food. I am not sure it is our place to police the spiritual practices of others. We mind our own plates. I think St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans Chapter 14 is worth a read. We read from it just before Lent starts.

Herman

#3 Anthony Stokes

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 01:16 PM

I think a lot of it has to do with education in older parishes. I've seen this a few times before as well. I visited an older church (over 100 years old) during the Apostles fast a few years ago. the priest had been there for something like 40 years. There were hardly any young people. Several parts of the service were not normal already, but afterward, at coffee hour they were serving meatloaf. I remember the deacon, who teaches all of the classes there, said to me "aren't we in a fast?" as he watched the priest grab his meatloaf. Coupled with some of the other irregularities I saw, I believe it is just a lack of knowledge and education.

Sbdn. Anthony

#4 Ryan

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 02:32 PM

I saw a book of "Lenten recipes" that was mostly fish recipes. Oh well. Perhaps you should quietly talk to the priest about it, but don't let it become a big argument.

#5 Anthony Stokes

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 03:12 PM

I saw a book of "Lenten recipes" that was mostly fish recipes. Oh well. Perhaps you should quietly talk to the priest about it, but don't let it become a big argument.


If you look at a Greek fasting calendar, they have a lot of fish days, as opposed to the Russian fasting calendars. I'm not sure where the discrepancy started, but it's there.

Sbdn. Anthony

#6 Father David Moser

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 03:41 PM

If you look at a Greek fasting calendar, they have a lot of fish days, as opposed to the Russian fasting calendars.


There are also a lot of informal "local" conventions that must be taken into account as well. Many Russian families will include fish in all the fasts except for those that are explicitly "strict" (Great Lent, Dormition Fast, days of the Cross & Forerunner). It is common in many places to include wine and oil on any day in which one receives the Mysteries (thus you might find wine on the table on a Wed during Lent after the Presanctified). Fasting traditions are not just a set of rules written in a calendar but are a living part of the routine of the local community and are based on the needs, customs and nature of that community.

Fr David Moser

#7 Kusanagi

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 04:18 PM

it is best not to eat it. As it is common even here where the congregation has older parishners.
If you get offered since they see you not eating, it would be good to partake of some a little.

#8 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 10:08 PM

If you look at a Greek fasting calendar, they have a lot of fish days, as opposed to the Russian fasting calendars. I'm not sure where the discrepancy started, but it's there.

Sbdn. Anthony


On the official Russian calendar found online, every Wednesday & Friday in between Bright Week & Pentecost is a fish day. http://days.pravosla...ys/20110421.htm

This is interesting because the way I was previously taught was that these were wine & oil only days. From research though I recently discovered by turning to Nikolsky's Ustav (first published in Russia in pre revolutionary times) that this was indeed what was previously done in Russia. It could be then that our own practices will be influenced by this as it makes a lot of sense.

At least I won't object :)

In Christ-
Fr Raphael

#9 Darlene Griffith

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 01:07 AM

Mikhail,

Don't let it bother you. There are far more serious things. I attended a mission vespers recently and afterward we went over to the rectory. The clergy were there and their wives and shrimp and cheese were being served. During the Dormition Fast our parish had quite a few foods being served that were non-fasting foods. I really let it upset me at the time till it took away my peace. Another time, at a different parish, a man told my non-Orthodox husband that he doesn't fast. Again, I let it upset me to the point where I couldn't let it go for days.

I suppose in order for me to cope, I've just not been as strict about fasting myself. I'm not saying that this is the right approach. However, because I've not been so strict myself, I'm not judging others for how they do or don't keep the fasts. Who was that who said, "Love God and do as you please?"

#10 Nina

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 01:58 AM

If you look at a Greek fasting calendar, they have a lot of fish days, as opposed to the Russian fasting calendars. I'm not sure where the discrepancy started, but it's there.

Sbdn. Anthony


This is true (in the American Greek Orthodox tradition). But not for the Great Lent. It is mainly during Nativity fast. During Great Lent, Greeks have only the Feast of Annunciation and Palm Sunday when we can consume fish. And mostly the Greek tradition it was to consume bakalaro (a kind of dried and salty fish - it is also in Italian (RC) Lenten tradition so I guess it has to do something with the Mediterranean diet and food available).

Great Lent I have been taught from my grandmothers is very serious and they scrubbed and washed their pots and pans so well when it started, out of devotion that nothing non-lenten was consumed unknowingly. But on Annunciation and Palm Sunday they ate fish. Actually they adhered strictly to this fish only during those 2 days, as even the Muslims knew this fast of Greeks - my great - grandfather and a friend of him were killed on Annunciation Day by turks, when turks saw him buying fish on Annunciation and they understood he and his friend were Orthodox.

With elderly people I do not know how they fast and esp. with their need for protein. As Herman said it is better their own SF decides for them.

Also when there are parishes which have events and host other parishes for a service I know that in the name of hospitality the fast rule is relaxed.

In my parish after the Salutations of the Theotokos when we have spiritual talks and the most pious ladies gather and prepare food, the food is so yummy and totally Lenten. Whereas for coffee hour since it can be offered by anyone, I have noticed all kinds of things during Lent. But what can I say since I first fail not only in the actual fast but all kinds of fasts.

#11 Mikhail Kolitwenzew

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 05:14 AM

There are also a lot of informal "local" conventions that must be taken into account as well. Many Russian families will include fish in all the fasts except for those that are explicitly "strict" (Great Lent, Dormition Fast, days of the Cross & Forerunner). It is common in many places to include wine and oil on any day in which one receives the Mysteries (thus you might find wine on the table on a Wed during Lent after the Presanctified). Fasting traditions are not just a set of rules written in a calendar but are a living part of the routine of the local community and are based on the needs, customs and nature of that community.

Fr David Moser


Thanks guys, this explains much. But aren't the fasting rules laid down by the holy Canons?

St Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain quotes the Apostolic Canon #69,in his book "A Handbook Of Spiritual Counsel"

"Any bishop, priest, deacon, sub-deacon, reader or chanter, who does not fast during Great-Lent, and each Friday and Wednesday, is to be deposed. Except if he is prevented from doing so due to bodily illness. If a person is a layman who does not fast, he is to be rejected."

But what does it mean to "fast"?

Edited by Mikhail Kolitwenzew, 12 April 2011 - 05:31 AM.


#12 Michael 'Anthony' Cornett

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 04:00 PM

I think 'except due to bodily illness' is the key here. You mentioned there are many older folks at the parish. Many of these folks take certain medications, and require a certain diet that includes meat & dairy. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, it's entirely possible that they have a blessing from their spiritual father to partake of such things, even during lent, lest they fall into grave illness. With that said, should it be the main serving at coffee hour? Probably not. Not sure how your coffee hour works, but for our parish, each month is tackled by a volunteer family. Within that month, individual Sundays are typically divvied out to other volunteers to help with the prep & cooking. In cases of a memorial, it's customary for that family to host coffee hour. There are plenty of times when that family doesn't know the fasting customs, and bring meat or dairy.

If it's a dire concern, bring it up with your father confessor as a problem you are struggling with. Perhaps volunteering to host would be a good way to introduce the fast-friendly meal?

#13 Eric Peterson

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 05:32 PM

I think our first fasting concern is to keep our eyes on our own plates and our spiritual eyes on our own souls. If we notice something others are doing, we should give them the benefit of the doubt. If we are not in a position to instruct, by being set aside for this purpose or by having a responsibility (to our families, for example), we should not seek to teach others, it seems to me.

This, and other things, are a cause for concern, however. But, I think, God hears the sighs of our hearts more clearly than others may hear our words of exhortation. We need discernment--some people may benefit from a word, others may not. It's hard to tell if, by saying something, you'll be opening up a "gift" you'd rather not receive.

#14 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 05:42 PM

I don't know how it is in other countries, but I have noticed that in the US, there was a very pronounced period (which is still going on in some places) where ascetical practices, particularly fasting and confession were neglected. I remember in the '70s and '80s how monastic vocations were actively discouraged in many parishes. I believe the pendulum is swinging the other way these days, there is much more emphasis on such things in many more places and in the minds of people than there was. There are many articles and books re-emphasizing the importance of fasting, more priests are willing to preach it, but not everyone has read the books I guess, not everybody has gotten the memo/email.

#15 Alexander Ignatiev

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 02:30 PM

Thank God, I am not restricted from fasting due to health issues. But even so, I find that from time to time during the fast I have fallen from the ideal. I have absolutely no idea how anyone else in the parish is doing in keeping the fast. It's hard enough for me to stay on track. For me, the hardest part of the fast is avoiding overeating the permitted foods. That is my great struggle. Following a calendar schedule for fasting is pretty easy; eating less than I want to eat is hard.

It does help a lot that my non-Orthodox wife keeps the fast with me. I am very blessed, indeed.

#16 Xenia Moos

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 06:16 PM

When people show concern about this, I don't think (IMO) that they are necessarily being judgmental or critical about individual people and what's on their plates. I think people, maybe especially converts? are afraid that all the traditions will fade away and the Orthodox Church will someday be no different than the Methodists.

#17 Mikhail Kolitwenzew

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 08:30 PM

When people show concern about this, I don't think (IMO) that they are necessarily being judgmental or critical about individual people and what's on their plates. I think people, maybe especially converts? are afraid that all the traditions will fade away and the Orthodox Church will someday be no different than the Methodists.


I agree. Listen to what St John Chrysostom says about judging,

"If someone believes evil about the faith (heretically)..flee from him and have nothing to do with him not only if he is a man but even if he happens to be an angel from heaven. However, do not critique a person's lifestyle because, 'Do not judge so you will not be judged,' applies to all matters of the lifestyle and not in the matters of the Faith."


Holy Father St John Chrysostom


Quote taken from this book:

http://www.orthodoxi...oveintruth.html

#18 kyril

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Posted 09 January 2014 - 05:05 AM

I'm sorry that this is almost three years "out of date" but I,m 70, newly chrismated and replying helps me to firm up some ideals floating around in my head.

So, the Nativity fast has come, and just gone (Glorify Him!)

I tried so hard I literally made myself sick and had to see a doctor - fortunately, one of the few very understanding, practising RC's around. He said' you' re not as young as you used to be; you need dairy products for your osteoporosis - ask your priest about maybe one or two things for now and the maybe add more later - say, Lent, or even later, when your body has adapted.to this sort of thing.

So I did, and Father scolded me for not having asked him about this much sooner: "Meat for now" he said, "and TV and sweets, and spend the money you save on works of mercy and all the time practise the Jesus Prayer."

 As for 'eating out' "use you head, he said, "don't be a Pharisee - sackcloth and ashes- be polite, ' thank you, not too much; (and when seconds are offered- oh I really couldn't - it was just fine, but I,m full, I've nowhere left to put it!)

I did notice in one of the above comments something said about 'yummy Lenten foods'?

Surely if they're 'yummy'  that's a good reason in and of itself not to eat them? Just wondering?

 

Comments, if anyone is still reading this topic after three years, will be much appreciated.

God Bless from a newcomer!



#19 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 12:19 PM

There is a point to mention though it's relevance may be limited. Those who have been Orthodox for a long time and have become advanced in years sometimes find that the spiritual life develops a different nature late in life. It can take on a more internalised character so that careful observance of routine matters becomes relaxed and is replaced by a greater inner dimension. I at first was concerned about this: I was thought I was just getting lax and lazy, but I have spoken to others more experienced than I and to a very good Russian monastic, and all these say that what I have tried to describe is so.


Edited by Andreas Moran, 11 January 2014 - 12:20 PM.


#20 Irene B.

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 11:57 PM

From what I have seen at coffee hours is that people are asked to follow fasting guidelines with regards to the potluck food even though people may have a variety of dietary needs at home. The childrens snack is often an exception (i.e. Cheesy goldfish), but many children continue with dairy etc during the fast anyway. I pack my son's lunch each week for after church...he is just a toddler and doesn't do any fasting yet of course :-) Personally, its just one meal a week, if not just a snack, I like the idea of everyone who can joining in on the fast for the special fellowship time, even if they can't at home. But I may be an idealist.




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