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Author Topic: Ready for a weird question?  (Read 1184 times) Average Rating: 0
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Carole
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« on: April 17, 2007, 11:02:38 AM »

Up to now my questions have been fairly "normal" - well normal for me at any rate.  Grin  Now comes a strange one.

Fasting and abstinence are clearly, and beautifully, a large and important part of the life of an Orthodox Christian.  Is abstinence from meat and dairy during periods of strict abstinence still spiritually valuable if you regularly abstain from such foods?  I mean if one is a strict vegetarian and regularly abstains from all meat, dairy and eggs in their daily life - is more required from them during periods of fasting/abstinence?

I'm not sure if the way I'm writing the question makes sense.

I was, for several years, a vegetarian.  I stopped eating a vegetarian diet about a year and a half ago but have noticed that I do not feel as good physically or mentally with a diet that contains meat and dairy.  So I am transitioning back to a strict vegetarian diet (no easy feat in Alabama).  And I was just thinking that once I complete the dietary transition and I'm already not eating meat, dairy and eggs that a period of fasting and abstinence (such as Great Lent) will be a "no brainer" and probably won't seem like a time of deprivation - since I already won't be eating those things anyway.

Which sort of seems like cheating.  If that makes sense.  So I was wondering what your opinions are (clearly should I convert I will discuss this with my priest) on the idea of a vegetarian Orthodox and fasting/abstinence.

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Carole
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« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2007, 11:07:57 AM »

My guess is a priest would tell you not to fast more than the rules suggest but to do something else on top of fasting, part of what penitential seasons are supposed to be about anyway (like using money saved on meat to give to the poor). Give to charity, go to more weekday church services, that sort of thing.
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« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2007, 11:12:37 AM »

I am by no means and expert on fasting, but perhaps you could cut down on the amount of food you take in during fasting periods?  For many, just the vegetarian/vegan diet itself is challenge enough.  If you've managed to make that a part of your everyday life, then during fast times, you could focus on eating less and, most importantly, fasting from sin.  Most of all, talk to your priest about it.  Holiness and theosis are life-long processes and things such as fasting are means to those ends, not the ends themselves.  He'll know what to do you for your particular situation.
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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2007, 11:16:32 AM »

Just a few thoughts before my women's group starts:

1. Others have discussed this as well, but we can also fast by reducing our intake---maybe work to one meal and two half meals a day, and gradually to one meal a day.

Fasting gets a lot of attention, but it's only part of the picture as well:

2.  Other components of spiritual exercises, such as increasing our prayer rule and almsgiving, can also receive greater emphasis during Lenten periods...which also includes a nicely long Apostle's Fast this year, btw---this is a fast that many people like to 'skip', but its benefits cannot be underestimated!
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Thomas
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« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2007, 02:54:15 PM »

In my parish we have had several converts who were various levels of vegetarians and here is how we have discussed  fasting with them:

OVO-lacto (eggs and dairy vegetarians) fast from wine, eggs, dairy, or oils during fasting periods

Vegan - fast from all oils

But most important to complete the true fasting regimen one must also do the other two components of it increased paryer and the giving of alms.

As already noted always talk with your spiritual father or pastor for direction in keeping the fasts of the church specifically geared to your spiritual needs.

Thomas
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