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Author Topic: Fasting  (Read 5276 times) Average Rating: 0
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HandmaidenofGod
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O Holy St. Demetrius pray to God for us!


« Reply #45 on: January 11, 2009, 12:34:16 AM »

I have a purely personal theory - or notion - for what it's worth. Maybe it's completely mistaken: or maybe it will help someone.

I think that when we fast we often feel no enhanced access to nearness to God, no special moving of his Spirit in our soul, no increased warmth of soul, no marked change in our circumstances. It is as if the trouble of fasting is not worthwhile: nothing changes. But in fact God notices and receives the obedience or earnestness we show in our fast, and answers our prayers or blesses us in some other way because of it - but in a way that does not appear linked to the fast.

This keeps the fasting as an act of pure faith and obedience, with no semblance of 'manipulating' God by extra devotion or piety. The answer may be quite unconnected with the matters about which we prayed, or may come later, or in some other way may be designed not to be plainly connected with the fast. In this way, we have only our trust in God that fasting is part of his way for us, and no sense of religious achievement that makes us better than our brothers and sisters or somehow more impressive to God.

Do you think there is some sense in this?

I would have to disagree. In my experience, and the experiences related to me by other Orthodox Christians, during periods of fasting we feel especially tested. People will become grumpy and sometimes challenging to deal with during Lent, for the devil is testing us during these periods. It is an especially trying time on many levels.

Also, it's been my experience that every year during Lent, God works within me in a different way. Different things are revealed to me, and my relationship with Him always grows. I wouldn't say that it's the fasting alone that does it, but rather the fasting coupled with the increase in prayer and attendance to services. (As Presbytera and Fr. Anastasios can tell you, the number of services held during Great Lent GREATLY multiplies!)

It was actually the absence of the observance of Lent that brought me back from the Baptist church to the Orthodox faith. It felt strange to have no preparation for the Feast of Feasts. Christ conquered death and all we were doing was putting out a few pots of Easter Lillies next to the pulpit and singing a couple hymns about the Resurrection. Just seemed a bit understated to me. I mean no insult to you, I'm just relating my experience to you.
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"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jer 29:11
David Young
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« Reply #46 on: January 11, 2009, 06:41:18 AM »

1) In my experience, and the experiences related to me by other Orthodox Christians, during periods of fasting we feel especially tested.

2) Just seemed a bit understated to me. I mean no insult to you

1) That's no too far removed from what I was trying to say. There are times when, during fasting, instead of feeling closer to God, access to him seems further away or more difficult.

2) No insult taken. Some of us feel the same: we need a stronger emphasis on the Resurrection of Christ and the victory it wrought.
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HandmaidenofGod
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« Reply #47 on: January 14, 2009, 04:23:37 PM »

1) That's no too far removed from what I was trying to say. There are times when, during fasting, instead of feeling closer to God, access to him seems further away or more difficult.

Ain't that the truth?! lol

Praise God that it is WE who move further from Him, and not He who moves from us!

2) No insult taken. Some of us feel the same: we need a stronger emphasis on the Resurrection of Christ and the victory it wrought.

I think you're losing the greater meaning here. Presbytera Mari touched upon this on another thread. Without the Liturgical calendar, and the cycle of feasts and fasts, I think you are just seeing the Paschal Liturgy in and of itself and not the Lenten struggle that proceeds it. The two are intrixibly intertwined, just as without Christ's crucifixion we do not have His Resurrection.

In my original post I stated that it was Lent that brought me back to Orthodoxy. (I was raised half Orthodox, half Baptist.)

That particular year, both the East and the West celebrated Easter on the same Sunday. (An event that only occurs once every 7 years.) It seemed to me the whole world was in a somber preparation for the feast of feasts. At that time I lived in an area with a high concentration of Orthodox, Catholic, and Lutheran churches. As I would drive by the churches on my way to the Baptist church, I would see the buildings cloaked in royal purple. There was a visible and palpable anticipation for joy that was to come with the Resurrection at these churches. In my humble Baptist church however, there was no anticipation. Instead of contemplating Christ's passion, we were testing power point slides, changing lighting gels, doing sound checks, and watching the Pastor put on make-up in preperation for his sermon. (After all, we can't have a shiny forehead under the lights now, can we?) In the depths of my soul I knew something was wrong. I knew we were supposed to be fasting and praying. I knew I had to leave. Now to be fair, I didn't run from the pews of the Baptist Church back into the arms of the Orthodox Church right away. I studied every denomination and their history before coming home to Orthodoxy.

To go back to my point about the Liturgical Calander, the cycle keeps us in balance. The more I learn about my faith, and the stricter I am about observing the calander, I see how it compliments the cycle of life. Just as the Jews had (have) the feasts and fasts and their own Liturgical cycle that prepared (prepares) them for the coming of Christ in the Old Testament, we have a Liturgical cycle that rejoices in the promise of the New Testament. (I used both past and present verbs not to be dismissive of today's Jews.)

Every service of the Orthodox Church prepares us for every point in the day, every point in the year. While as laymen, we may not rise to Matins, Liturgy, Vespers, and compline, the prayers and services are there for us and create order in our lives.

You had mentioned before that you are awaiting the opportunity to go to a Divine Liturgy at a local parish when the opportunity arises. I would also invite you to attend the Vespers service the night before, and the Divine Liturgy the following day. As we follow the Judaic practice of the Sabbath starting at sunset the evening before, you will see how the prayers and scripture readings from Saturday night prepare us for joy of the service on Sunday morning.

Forgive my ramblings, I hope I've made things a little clearer for you.

God bless,

Maureen
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David Young
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« Reply #48 on: January 14, 2009, 06:48:32 PM »

I would also invite you to attend the Vespers service the night before, and the Divine Liturgy the following day.

It was their suggestion (by e-mail) that as a visitor I should come to their 10.30 Sunday morning service, so I'd better go with that. I also intend to go to Father Theodhori's morning service next time I'm in Gjirokastër (Argyrocastro), as I have discovered that it is at 8.30, and our Evangelical one is not till 10.45.

Thank you for the suggestion.
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"But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another." Galatians 5.15
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