February 21, 2007

The Great Fast

Here are the fasting regulations of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Van Nuys, to which our church belongs:

Strict Fast (no meat, eggs, dairy or condiments made from animal fats and preferably no synthetic substitutes like soy milk) on Pure Monday (first Monday of the Great Fast) and Good Friday.

Simple Fast (no meat or meat products) on every Wednesday and Friday of the Great Lent.

All Byzantine Catholics are to keep the fast. Infants, pregnant women, nursing mothers and those seriously ill are exempt from the strict fast..

Now these regulations don't seem strict at all. The original monastic fast is forbidding all animal products, wine and oil on every day of the Great Fast (Lent) except for Sundays, when some of those products were permitted. Father Joseph told us that we don't have to keep this monastic fast, we should do as much as we can, and he suggested fasting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
I think that each priest would give a different set of rules so in the end we should prayerfully decide what works best for us. St. Theodor Studite said that we should "fast as much as our body can endure".

We should not forget that in addition to the fast and abstinence from certain food, we are supposed to try to abstain from amusements and parties and from serious sin like anger, gossip, lying, swearing and so on. We should also practice virtues and do good works. It is also recommended that we receive Holy Communion as often as possible during the week.

I will not talk about what my fasting rules are, that's pretty personal but I will share my choice of spiritual reading during Lent. The book is called "The Spiritual Life. And How to Be Attuned to It" by St. Theophan the Recluse, a collection of letters written by the Saint to a young woman, in which he gives her great pieces of advice to help her grow spiritually.
Kelly is also sharing the title of the book she is reading, on her blog.

Teddy has made up his own rules for Lent. He told me that he will try to not play on the computer (which he loves doing) or watch TV and he will not eat any sweets during the whole Lent. I told him that this is very strict and he didn't have to do this but he insists. Celsus, his friend and I think their other classmates too, have aparently promised to make similar sacrifices. I don't know how much he will actually be able to follow these rules. We'll see.

I wish you all a great journey through the Great Fast (Lent).

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