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Dispensations from fasting seasons (Thanksgiving)


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#1 Paul Cowan

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 11:50 PM

Over our teeth and around our gum; look out stomach, here it comes. A-MEN!

At least that's what we say down here.

But as you say it is not an Orthodox setting. You won't find many priests "allowing" the laxing of the fast, but you may find them that say don't scandalize your family by fasting stringently in front of them. Surely there will be lenten types of food served you might be able to get away with eating in front of them. You can always side step the turkey issue by saying you are 'saving room for it,' but eating these other items first and when time comes back around saying something to the effect, 'it was the best looking turkey you ever saw.' You don't have to admit not eating it necessarily, but polite sidestepping works in my family all the time.

If you are close enough to the person cooking and if it is not too noticeable, you can request specific foods be make or bring them yourself and tell them you are on a special meal plan. I hate to say the word diet since that is not what you are doing, but most people will go along with that answer.

OR you could just come right out and tell everyone you're fasting and if they wern't all heretics, they would also be fasting. but it might dampen the meal.

Paul

#2 Jeremy Troy

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 12:11 AM

Well, despite what Paul said, I know that in the Antiochian Archdiocese and the Greek Archdiocese, at least, there are official Patriarchal blessings dispensing us from the fast for that day. So, in my experience, not only are we "allowed" to eat the Thanksgiving meal, but we're told to.

If you want to say it, the standard mealtime prayer for Western Christians is "Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive of Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen." At Thanksgiving, people like to add personal prayers of thanks for different things, especially the presence of loved ones, health, etc. I think that if you were to say the standard Orthodox prayers instead, nobody would find it strange.

#3 Paul Cowan

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 12:43 AM

So, in my experience, not only are we "allowed" to eat the Thanksgiving meal, but we're told to.


WHAT???!!!! All this time, I've been eating tofurkey for nothing. deviled tofueggs and macaroni and fake cheese! I have got to have a talk with His Emminence.

How about "God is good, God is great. Let us thank Him for this plate. A-MEN"

#4 Clare G.

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 02:23 AM

Not a fast day if you're on the Old Calendar!

#5 Paul Cowan

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 04:23 AM

Bingo! time to jump jurisdictions. At least temporarily. God I LOVE Orthodoxy!!!!!

I can jump again on Jan 6 and get in a second Christmas....

#6 Michael 'Anthony' Cornett

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 07:33 PM

I realize many things are said in jest, but it should be noted for those inquiring minds...it's not really up to the priest for such a dispensation, but rather the bishop.

#7 Father David Moser

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 08:00 PM

I realize many things are said in jest, but it should be noted for those inquiring minds...it's not really up to the priest for such a dispensation, but rather the bishop.


... in the Antiochian Archdiocese and the Greek Archdiocese, at least, there are official Patriarchal blessings dispensing us from the fast for that day. So, in my experience, not only are we "allowed" to eat the Thanksgiving meal, but we're told to.


I wanted to respond to this idea of a "dispensation" for thanksgiving. A priest can give a "dispensation" (or exception) from fasting if it is necessary for the physical and spiritual well being of his spiritual child. It is not just a bishop thing. OTOH a blanket "dispensation" to completely disregard the fast just because it conflicts with a secular celebration is, imo, a distortion of how such things should be approached. Certainly it is not uncommon to relax the fast when a celebration falls on that day - we do it all the time in the Church when the feast of an important saint falls on a fasting day or when a great feast falls on a fasting day. But only in one instance is the fast eliminated completely when there is a conflict with a feast - and that is Nativity. In every other case, when a great feast of the Church - the twelve most important days in our yearly cycle - falls on a fast day, the fast is not eliminated, but rather it is relaxed. The three best examples that we all experience nearly every year are the feasts of the Entry of the Virgin, the Annunciation and Transfiguration. These feasts generally fall within fasting seasons (Entry of the Virgin - Advent; Annunciation - Great Lent; Transfiguration - Dormition Lent). Do we do away with the fast on these days? No, of course not. We "relax" the fast and permit fish wine and oil on those days. This is the Orthodox approach.

When we idly dispose of the fast just because it conflicts with the American annual eat until you burst day (or maybe "gluttony day") called Thanksgiving, we "elevate" Thanksgiving to an importance greater than any of the other feasts (except Nativity) and place it on the same level of spiritual importance as the Nativity of our Lord. Something is amiss here. Should we account for the festival of Thanksgiving in American (US) culture - sure, of course we should. Let us do so, however, in an Orthodox manner. Let us "relax" the fast, permitting fish wine and oil just as we would for any of the other great feasts or important saints, but let's not disregard the whole rhythm of the Church year to accommodate a secular celebration.

Now the pastoral exemption of dealing with mixed families of converts and parents/sibs who aren't Orthodox but with whom we will celebrate thanksgiving is not at issue here - it is a different thing, a personalized pastoral intervention given by a spiritual father for someone who finds themselves in a difficult situation. It should not be and cannot be a "blanket dispensation" to do away with fasting with no regard for the situation of each person.

#8 Timothy Mulligan

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 09:09 PM

Let us "relax" the fast, permitting fish wine and oil


Can we compromise and have duck? (It swims.) :)

#9 Jeremy Troy

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 11:27 PM

When we idly dispose of the fast just because it conflicts with the American annual eat until you burst day (or maybe "gluttony day") called Thanksgiving, we "elevate" Thanksgiving to an importance greater than any of the other feasts (except Nativity) and place it on the same level of spiritual importance as the Nativity of our Lord. Something is amiss here.

Father, bless.

I take your point here. But apart from the question of whether it is right for a Bishop to give his flock a complete dispensation from the fast for Thanksgiving, what is a layman to do when his Bishop, just as a matter of fact, has given such a dispensation? My understanding is that such dispensations have been given for at least the Greek and Antiochian Archdioceses (I am currently at a Greek parish, and my home parish is Antiochian). I assume that they aren't completely blanket-- I doubt that the monasteries break the fast, for example-- but I don't really know the details. I wonder if the Bishops have given their priests pastoral control over this dispensation, to tell some parishioners to keep the fast and to dispense others on the basis of their needs, family situations, etc. My experience has been that the whole parish is told at once that they are dispensed from the fast. Do you know the details here?

#10 Father David Moser

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 11:52 PM

...what is a layman to do when his Bishop, just as a matter of fact, has given such a dispensation? My understanding is that such dispensations have been given for at least the Greek and Antiochian Archdioceses...Do you know the details here?


I don't know details since this has never applied to me (being old calender, as far as I am concerned it is a moot point). However, in answer to the first question, a "dispensation" is not a commandment to break the fast, but simply permission to do so if the need arises. You don't have to break the fast, especially if you are in a fully Orthodox environment.

Fr David Moser

#11 Michael Stickles

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 04:40 AM

I think there is much more to the dispensation than merely avoiding conflict with a secular holiday. I'll do my best to recount/summarize something I read a few years ago, before the first Thanksgiving we celebrated after becoming Orthodox - and if anyone recognizes the points and knows where I can find that original source, please let me know (hopefully I won't mis-state anything).

According to that source, the first consideration is that Thanksgiving is the closest thing America has to a specifically national Holy Day. A national holiday dedicated to giving thanks to God for His blessings is something that should be recognized, encouraged, and celebrated.

The second is that there is a great deal of established tradition, ritual and culture associated with Thanksgiving, and the menu - especially the turkey - is a major part of that. This is why a dispensation is given rather than merely relaxing the fast - otherwise the holiday could not be celebrated in that traditional manner, which (for many) would mean not really celebrating it at all.

Third, Thanksgiving falls during the beginning of the Nativity Fast, which is the most "lenient" of the four fasting seasons. Thus, a dispensation here is less of a divergence from the normal practice than it would be during one of the other fasting seasons (I simply can't imagine a dispensation being given if Thanksgiving had fallen instead during the Dormition Fast or Great Lent).

That's the explanation as I remember it. It's not mine, so whether you find it totally convincing or think it's just an elaborate justification, please don't thank/blame me :-).

In Christ,
Michael

#12 Christophoros

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 03:34 PM

Advice from Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov, rector of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia Church (ROCOR) in Mulino, Oregon:


This question rarely troubles those who keep the Julian calendar, as is the case in the Russian Orthodox Church, since our Nativity Fast begins on November 28. However, some years, Thanksgiving does land on November 28–the first day of our Nativity Fast. I can see two approaches to resolving the conflict between fasting rules and a Thanksgiving turkey.

First, in my opinion, there would be nothing wrong if diocesan authorities or even parish rectors chose to relax some fasting rules on this day, especially in those parishes which are composed of mostly American converts to Orthodoxy, who not only have many non-Orthodox family members, but have grown up with the tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving in a certain way. Perhaps, a token morsel of turkey and a symbolic piece of pie with a heartfelt prayer to God, thanking Him for His boundless mercies to us, is a better witness to Orthodoxy than a senseless discussion among non-Orthodox family members of which foods are allowed and which are not. A true fast is much more than food. An Orthodox Christian would do well abstaining from gossip, back-biting, and judging, as well as gluttony, drunkenness, and other sins and passions which may find for themselves fertile soil at the Thanksgiving table.

Second, keeping a strict fast in America is rarely a problem at all. There are many Americans who do not eat turkey, or pie, or mashed potatoes for any number of reasons–various health and weight-loss diets, vegetarian and vegan convictions, and others. Most American families seem to have absolutely no problem with someone declining one dish in favor of another and having tofu instead of meat, salad instead of cake, or fruit instead of ice-cream. Nobody seems to get offended or upset, and Orthodox Christians should stop making belly-pleasing excuses for why they cannot keep the fast.

One thing I would absolutely discourage is for people to individually decide whether they will keep the fast or relax it. Our fasts are the common fasts of the whole Church; and we should fast as one body or feast as one body. If our Christian family is keeping a strict fast, then we must also keep a strict fast, even if our biological family will not approve of this. Of course, we must observe our fast will all gentleness, piety, and discretion, without flashy advertisements of our self-righteousness.

http://frsergei.word...sgiving-turkey/

#13 Christina M.

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 04:31 PM

This is a great thread. I thought Fr David's post hit the nail on the head.

#14 Christina M.

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 04:32 PM

WHAT???!!!! All this time, I've been eating tofurkey for nothing. deviled tofueggs and macaroni and fake cheese!"

Oh, stop it, Paul! You're making me hungry. :-)

#15 Alice

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 06:27 PM

Over our teeth and around our gum; look out stomach, here it comes. A-MEN!


LOL...you Texans definitely have a way with words!! ;-)

#16 Paul Cowan

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 05:04 AM

You should hear the words we use when someone gets between us and a plate of BBQ or good 'ol fashioned chile.

I recently found out Metropolitan Philip has and does relax the fast for us on Thanksgiving, but not for leftovers the next day. Best to go eat at someone elses house and don't take any home. Of course don't gorge while visiting. I had to squeeze that in to remind myself.

#17 Christina M.

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 05:23 AM

Paul - I think you missed some or Fr David's message (which I happen to agree with). Just because something is allowed, doesn't mean you have to do it. Unless, of course, your SF gave you specific rules to follow.

#18 Paul Cowan

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 05:38 AM

You didn't read mine either. One day, don't gorge, no leftovers.

besides, this applies.

You don't have to break the fast, especially if you are in a fully Orthodox environment.


I won't be in one. Far from it actually. Might even be considered enemy territory. No, I'm not coming to your house.

Paul

#19 Christina M.

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 05:43 AM

No, I'm not coming to your house.

Darn. Now what am I gonna do with this turkey?!

#20 Kyrill Bolton

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 02:42 PM

Of course don't gorge while visiting. I had to squeeze that in to remind myself.


Paul, all of us can see your desperate plea for help (and not just in squeezing in or out of something.) Our prayers are with you.




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