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Author Topic: Antiochian Paschaltide practices  (Read 7244 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: December 28, 2005, 03:08:46 PM »

Had a discussion with a friend last night and the topic of changes to Antochian paschaltide practices came up. Does anyone know what on earth motivated The Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Antioch to decree in 1997 that the entire period from Pascha to the Feast of the Ascension should feature no fasting?

The official justification was that this was an extension of the Traditional Bright Week (week following Pascha/Easter) exclusion from fasting.

The only thing we could come up with was that this change to Antiochian Orthodox practices refected Melkite Practices and since the two churches are so inter-connected in many ways, this was done as a concession to them in the 1990's.  Does anyone else have any other incites?

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« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2005, 03:33:18 PM »

Holy Tradition, maybe?  Tongue
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« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2005, 03:40:41 PM »

There are lots of things to change based upon Holy Tradition, but this change seemed to come out of nowhere (from the perspective of other Orthodox jurisdictions) and there had to be some other reason besides Tradition.
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« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2005, 09:16:04 PM »

I was going to say, the practice of not fasting throughout Bright Week is closely tied to the practice that each day is Pascha again - all the hymns are Resurrectional (which they normally aren't for the weekdays), vestments and colors in the Church are bright/white, Great Vespers/Great Matins each day, etc.  The other thirty-three days are not "Pascha" all over again (except the leave-taking), which is why it doesn't make much sense to me.
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« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2005, 10:44:40 PM »

I was going to say, the practice of not fasting throughout Bright Week is closely tied to the practice that each day is Pascha again - all the hymns are Resurrectional (which they normally aren't for the weekdays), vestments and colors in the Church are bright/white, Great Vespers/Great Matins each day, etc.  The other thirty-three days are not "Pascha" all over again (except the leave-taking), which is why it doesn't make much sense to me.
However, the Otdanie (leave-taking) of Pascha, being a Wednesday, is a fast day.
I have always found it odd that between Pascha and Pentecost we do not kneel, but return to fasting after Thomas Sunday, yet, at Vespers on the evening of  Pentecost Sunday we begin to kneel again but have a fast free week following.  My opinion only...I think we might have a mixing of 2 distinct traditions here.  As far as I know, nothing has been written about this.  Maybe one of you MDiv candidates might want to do a thesis on this!
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« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2005, 11:38:27 PM »

Maybe because pentecost is a feast calling for a fast Free week.
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« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2005, 01:05:59 AM »

However, the Otdanie (leave-taking) of Pascha, being a Wednesday, is a fast day.
I have always found it odd that between Pascha and Pentecost we do not kneel, but return to fasting after Thomas Sunday, yet, at Vespers on the evening of  Pentecost Sunday we begin to kneel again but have a fast free week following.  My opinion only...I think we might have a mixing of 2 distinct traditions here.  As far as I know, nothing has been written about this.  Maybe one of you MDiv candidates might want to do a thesis on this!

My understanding of the kneeling issue is that we don't kneel on Sundays and the 40 days because of the joy of the Resurrection, and Saturdays because they're not strict fasting.  Kneeling is a penitential position, closely tied with fasting (but not 100% tied), and since Saturdays and Sundays do not have a penitential theme to them, there is no kneeling.

I guess we could look at the period after Pascha as a multi-layered affair, just as the period before Pascha: Some weeks are more intense in their penitential theme/Paschal theme (Holy Week and Bright Week), some periods have modified versions of the extremes (the 40 days before, 33 days after), and step-in and step-out periods (Triodion weeks, Ascension-Pentecost).
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« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2005, 10:44:14 AM »

Your points are well taken but I still want to know why the Antiochian Holy Synod made changes to the current standard practice that is found everywhere else in Eastern Orthodoxy.

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« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2005, 10:54:11 AM »

I couldn't answer the "why" question.  But it is a good question to ask, and hopefully someone will be able to shed some light on it.
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« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2006, 03:05:34 AM »

My understanding of the kneeling issue is that we don't kneel on Sundays and the 40 days because of the joy of the Resurrection, and Saturdays because they're not strict fasting.ÂÂ  Kneeling is a penitential position, closely tied with fasting (but not 100% tied), and since Saturdays and Sundays do not have a penitential theme to them, there is no kneeling.

I guess we could look at the period after Pascha as a multi-layered affair, just as the period before Pascha: Some weeks are more intense in their penitential theme/Paschal theme (Holy Week and Bright Week), some periods have modified versions of the extremes (the 40 days before, 33 days after), and step-in and step-out periods (Triodion weeks, Ascension-Pentecost).

Speaking of kneeling, I was told by an Antiochian sub-Deacon that we shouldn't be kneeling on most Sundays throughout the year.ÂÂ  Any comments??
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« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2006, 05:13:53 AM »

Speaking of kneeling, I was told by an Antiochian sub-Deacon that we shouldn't be kneeling on most Sundays throughout the year.  Any comments??

He's right. Canon 20 of the First Ecumenical Council:

"Since there are some persons who kneel in church on Sunday and on the days of Pentecost, with a view to preserving uniformity in all parishes, it has seemed best to the holy Council for prayers to be offered to God while standing."
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« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2006, 07:07:22 AM »

Your Antiochian Sub-Deacon is correct: standing is considered the only acceptable prayer position for Sundays because of their joyful and resurrectional character/nature.  Sitting wasn't even considered at the time (since people didn't have chairs), and kneeling is considered a penitential prayer position, one which is completely acceptable (and often preferable) on the weekdays.  There is an extension made often times that there should be no kneeling on Saturdays except Holy and Great Saturday, only because Saturdays are never strict fasting days (except Great Saturday, hence the exception).  This latter point is far from having a consensus, though.
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« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2006, 11:16:18 AM »

I think the ancient practice is for the 40 days of Pascha to be fast free and it was later that the kill-joy monks Smiley who had taken over the episcopacy mandated their practice of returning to fasting after Bright Week as well as requiring the Apsotles Fast of the laity.
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« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2006, 01:20:35 PM »

Some people think its a monk-thing to say the Jesus prayer and to make prostrations and you can forget about fasting.  In a Soviet camp, the prisoners were told to fast by their priest during the Apostles Fast (observed by normal Orthodox and the saints).  At the end of the Fast, only 27 out of 45 kept the fast.  Later these 27 were released from the death camp.
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« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2006, 04:25:14 PM »

It is not a monk thing to fast, but the the strictness and amount of fasting did originally differ between monastics, clerics, and laity and this distinction is till preserved in some ways.  Among some Oriental Orthodox clerics must fast longer than the laity for the Nativity.  In the Byzantine tradition monks keep a two week fast before the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross that is not mandated for the laity.  Some monks never eat meat at all.
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« Reply #15 on: January 24, 2006, 04:30:50 PM »

Some monks never eat meat at all.

Isn't that a rule for all monks?
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« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2006, 04:52:58 PM »

No.  It may be required of monks of the Great Schema, I am unsure.  Some monks not of the Great Schema simply take it on as an additional asceticism.
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« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2006, 04:54:39 PM »

No.  It may be required of monks of the Great Schema, I am unsure.  Some monks not of the Great Schema simply take it on as an additional asceticism.

Oh, I believe I heard it was the norm for at least some type of monk, maybe Athonite was what I was thinking of.
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« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2006, 06:34:42 PM »

Maybe things are different in Byzantine Catholic Church, but all Orthodox monks are to abstain from meat.  The fast before the Exultation of the Cross is not universally kept even among monastics (some also keep the first 8 days of November in honor the angels).  Although all Orthodox monks are supposed to fast on Mondays in addition to Wednessday and Friday. 
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« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2006, 10:16:11 AM »

Byzantine Catholic monks eat meat but I am sure I have seen Orthodox monks eating meat also, perhaps this is something specific to Athos?
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« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2006, 11:20:52 AM »

Traditionally, all Orthodox monks are required to give up meat.  Unfortunately, the only monks who, as a group, actually seem to obey this are Oriental Orthodox monks (I am aware of some exceptions to my blanket statement, but in each case it has caused no little scandal).  I've seen several EO monks eat meat, and when I asked about it, they said they were allowed to eat meat, and seemed surprised (in one case, horrified) that our monks perpetually fast from meat.  This is not to say that there are not EO monks who keep the tradition, but that the situation in that Church seems a little more flexible.   
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« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2006, 11:39:34 AM »

I would not just call not eating meat an athonite practice but rather something that is common amongst Orthodox Monasticism. The problem is that there are many "monks" in the US who are monastics in name only and lack a monastic community and typikon. It is also common for an abbot to give a blessing to a monk who may have to be away from the monestary to eat what is served to him.

Also what is called meat may be in question here. Blood meats are never served in most traditional monastic communites. Items such as boney fish are served on feast days and shell fish are eaten whenever but both are called meat. 
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« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2006, 11:51:03 AM »

I'd just like to add that I have never come across an Orthodox monk who ate meat either. I can't guarantee that none do, but the norm seems to be not to eat meat.

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« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2006, 10:00:44 PM »

Byzantine Catholic monks eat meat but I am sure I have seen Orthodox monks eating meat also, perhaps this is something specific to Athos?

Nah, it's in the canons.  At our GOC monastery in NY meat is never served.

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« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2006, 11:12:32 AM »

All this going to show that what was expected of monks was not the same as was expected of the laity.
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« Reply #25 on: January 26, 2006, 11:36:47 AM »

All this going to show that what was expected of monks was not the same as was expected of the laity.

First you asked if all monks are required to abstain from meat in Orthodoxy. Then you starting talking about laity vs. monastic practices.  So we've got two distinct but related topics going at the same time.

At any rate, just as the monastic rite became the dominant part of the modern typikon for liturgy, the monastic fasting traditions have become the standard basis of lay fasting as well.  While there are still differences as has been pointed out, they are a lot more similiar today than in the past.  The hand of God has pushed this positive development.

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« Reply #26 on: January 26, 2006, 12:14:17 PM »

Nah, it's in the canons.ÂÂ  At our GOC monastery in NY meat is never served.

Anastasios

I've seen EO monks eat meat....but it was not by "choice" per se, but out of politeness.  Our (former - she moved) choir director, who is also a great cook, cooked a meal for this singing seminar.  Monks came with the abbot from the local monastery for the seminar.  The choir director realized she forgot to prepare a separate meal w/o meat and told the abbot of the problem, she being distressed about it.  He said not to worry, we'll eat what is put in front of us.

Of course, this is an exception, but just wanted to be precise. Smiley
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« Reply #27 on: January 26, 2006, 01:37:00 PM »

But the original question was why did the Antiochians get rid of fasting during Paschal tide.  The answer is of course that it is the original practice.  The monks took over the episcopacy and legislated their practice for the laity.  It should not disturb anyone then that a Church chooses to revert to an earlier practice.
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« Reply #28 on: January 26, 2006, 02:00:58 PM »

Deacon Lance,

I understand, by further research, that not fasting during the paschaltide is an older tradition. As we all know, there are lots of "older traditions" which we should revert to. So, having stated that, does anyone know what moved the Holy Synod of Antioch in 1997 to change or "revert" to not fasting during Paschal tide when no other Orthodox Churches followed this move?

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« Reply #29 on: January 26, 2006, 02:12:29 PM »

But the original question was why did the Antiochians get rid of fasting during Paschal tide.  The answer is of course that it is the original practice.  The monks took over the episcopacy and legislated their practice for the laity.  It should not disturb anyone then that a Church chooses to revert to an earlier practice.

But that's really not how the typikon has developed until now so it's kind of murky and disturbing to some.

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« Reply #30 on: January 26, 2006, 03:28:50 PM »

I would agree with Anastasios that one of the big deals is the method in which they reverted - it was quite sudden, something that is not usual in the development of the Typikon.  If we reverted to "old practice" without thorough study and practice, and a gradual inclination, then the Liturgy would be largely foreign, and the people would be in shock (especially when they learn that the "simpler" versions took longer!).
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« Reply #31 on: January 26, 2006, 05:01:44 PM »

I am sure no one was upset when the found out they didn't have to fast during Paschaltide.Smiley
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« Reply #32 on: January 27, 2006, 10:17:13 AM »

Touchee
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« Reply #33 on: January 28, 2006, 10:02:18 PM »

Cleveland is right. Touchee. For those who didn't fast - no big deal. For those that did, especially converts, it was a big deal.
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« Reply #34 on: October 12, 2008, 10:14:14 PM »

Deacon Lance,

I understand, by further research, that not fasting during the paschaltide is an older tradition. As we all know, there are lots of "older traditions" which we should revert to. So, having stated that, does anyone know what moved the Holy Synod of Antioch in 1997 to change or "revert" to not fasting during Paschal tide when no other Orthodox Churches followed this move?

Basil

Could it be the repprochment with the OO?  Antioch seems to be the lead in that.
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« Reply #35 on: November 21, 2008, 02:38:18 PM »

I read something that this is actually a return to an ancient practice of the Antiochian Patriarchate.  This may actually only be a requirement for the immediate jurisdiction of the Antiochian Patriarchate, while being optional for the American Archdiocese - again, not 100% sure, I've heard different things.  As was noted, this may also be to foster better relations with the OO, which is a very real issue in the Patriarchate.

Whether all that is legit or not, I'm not sure.  It would be interesting to find out.  If you're not Antiochian, don't worry about it.  It doesn't concern you.  Just do what your hierarch/spiritual father tells you to do regarding fasting.

If you are Antiochian, just do what your spiritual father tells you. 

For the critics - brethren, maybe you should not be so focused on what others are doing.  As far as I know, fasting, while being governed by certain traditional guidelines, has ultimately always been an individual endeavor that is between the Christian, the spiritual father, and God.  Stop looking at what is on another person's plate, and worry about your own.  It's not like the Antiochians changed their Christology or began subtracting lines from the creed or anything; this is a small "t" tradition.

Just worry about your own fasting discipline, not that of others.

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« Reply #36 on: November 21, 2008, 02:55:56 PM »

For the critics - brethren, maybe you should not be so focused on what others are doing.  As far as I know, fasting, while being governed by certain traditional guidelines, has ultimately always been an individual endeavor that is between the Christian, the spiritual father, and God.  Stop looking at what is on another person's plate, and worry about your own.  It's not like the Antiochians changed their Christology or began subtracting lines from the creed or anything; this is a small "t" tradition.

Just worry about your own fasting discipline, not that of others.

Woah.  I'm no critic of the practice, just of the method of change; but I've got no choice but to respond to this.

The fasting practices of a Church are the business of The Church, as fasting is not a "small "t" tradition", but is a "Big "T" Tradition" of the Church - Fasting is an essential part of our lives, as practiced and taught by the Lord.  We're not criticizing the fasting practices of any individual, but rather being cautious about the teachings of an entire Church.  Fasting is not an individual matter, but is a Church matter, with implementation handled on the individual level.  Even then, the great majority are held to the letter of the Fast, not for the sake of legalism, but for the sake of their souls. 

Oh, concerns about how changes in fasting practice are implemented does not indicate that the individual with concerns is not focused on their own practices or salvation.

None of us are in the business of nitpicking someone's individual fasting practice, and thank the Lord for that.  But when changes are made on the diocese- (or larger) level, we must be vigilant, just as our Old Calendarist brethren feel that they are vigilant about the calendar, and just as our ancestors were vigilant about the Union of Florence.
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« Reply #37 on: November 21, 2008, 04:13:33 PM »

Nah, it's in the canons.ÂÂ  At our GOC monastery in NY meat is never served.

Anastasios

I've seen EO monks eat meat....but it was not by "choice" per se, but out of politeness.  Our (former - she moved) choir director, who is also a great cook, cooked a meal for this singing seminar.  Monks came with the abbot from the local monastery for the seminar.  The choir director realized she forgot to prepare a separate meal w/o meat and told the abbot of the problem, she being distressed about it.  He said not to worry, we'll eat what is put in front of us.

Of course, this is an exception, but just wanted to be precise. Smiley

Btw, the "abbot" in this case above is the new Met. Jonah.  Now don't run over each other trying to blather on about how scandalous this incident was.   Wink

Back to the OP and what 'cleveland' just said....since the dead thread has been resurrected.....what I find the major problem is, is that someone can be legalistic about this as an excuse to attend another parish.  I could just go and visit the Antiochian mission in town instead of the OCA parish I've been at for 12 years as an excuse to go eat meat during the entire Paschaltide.  If we are going to take ourselves seriously for unity, then we really need to be more consistent about important aspects of orthopraxis like fasting.
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« Reply #38 on: November 21, 2008, 05:07:38 PM »

Perhaps I should clarify...yes, I agree that fasting is a big "T" tradition...but exactly how it is done is small "t"; That's why we call them "guidelines" and not hard and fast rules.  Take the traditional fasting discipline after Bright Week till Pentecost.  Some say wine and oil are permitted on Wednesdays and Fridays, other say fish as well.  It just depends on where you're at.  Fasting is essential.  There are traditional guidelines.  But I stand firm - exactly how it is done is between you, God, and priest.  I'm not trying to be confrontational here, but I really don't see the decision of the Patriarchate to be something that should fired upon so readily without a more complete understanding of the reasons behind it.
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« Reply #39 on: November 21, 2008, 06:14:38 PM »

Perhaps I should clarify...yes, I agree that fasting is a big "T" tradition...but exactly how it is done is small "t"; That's why we call them "guidelines" and not hard and fast rules.  Take the traditional fasting discipline after Bright Week till Pentecost.  Some say wine and oil are permitted on Wednesdays and Fridays, other say fish as well.  It just depends on where you're at.  Fasting is essential.  There are traditional guidelines.  But I stand firm - exactly how it is done is between you, God, and priest.  I'm not trying to be confrontational here, but I really don't see the decision of the Patriarchate to be something that should fired upon so readily without a more complete understanding of the reasons behind it.

Yes, but that is an INDIVIDUAL basis.  We are talking about CORPORATE rules - it is these that need to be consistent.
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« Reply #40 on: November 21, 2008, 08:12:45 PM »

Ok, dear brother.  But show me how many sources actually agree on the corporate rules of fasting?  I think you'd be hard-pressed to find two sources that agree to every detail. If they are almost identical, any variation leaves the argument for universal corporate rules null and void. They vary from Patriarchate to Patriarchate, jurisdiction to jurisdiction, parish to parish, and individual to individual.

I still think people are focusing too much on this.  For goodness sake, how many times has the Church changed rules regarding fasting and other issues in her life?  People used to have full meals before the Eucharist.  The Great Fast took centuries to develop to what it is today.  The Christmas Fast didn't exist until almost the middle ages.  Some say no olive oil.  Some say no oil of any kind.  Some canons say fish is allowed only on weekends.  Others say Tuesdays and Thursdays are ok.  There are monks on Mt. Athos that won't take oil and cheese at all, not even on Pascha.  Other monastics permit oil on all but the strictest days.  Some bishops give a dispensation from fasting on Thanksgiving day.  Others don't.  And that's fine. And don't even get me started on how much the liturgy has changed since the early days.  That's a whole other issue, but could be argued similarly. Fasting rules are not universal in their entirety. Perhaps the period of no fasting IS the more ancient practice during Pentecost in Antioch! If so, what is the big deal with the return to it? You have to take in account the culture that the particular local church finds itself in.  We don't necessarily conform to every whim of secular culture, but we are in this world, and have to live in certain societal ways.  Now, I don't underestimate the value of fasting.  Don't get me wrong.  Antiochians I know go both ways on this Pentecostal fast-free season.  Some do it; some don't. Again, examine the full issues before condemning.  There may be a darn good reason why the Patriarchate doesn't fast during this time.  Unless you know for sure, don't jump to conclusions.

If we're going to argue for uniform fasting rules across the board, we should also argue for uniform liturgical rubrics.  For example, why do the Slavs vest the bishop in the middle of the church?  Why don't other jurisdictions do that?  Why do some parish choirs sing "Most Holy Theotokos save us" during the litany, and others don't?  Point being - these are not essential things.  They're just different ways we express our faith WITHIN an Orthodox context.  Same thing for fasting.  You're not going find universal rules across the board.  Diversity is acceptable in the Church to a point.  This has always been a halmark of Orthodoxy - diversity in liturgy, local practices, and yes - even fasting.  But we are uniform in faith and sacramental communion. 

I think God would laugh at how seriously we take ourselves with this sort of thing. I'm not saying to blow it off as dust in the wind; it is a needed and essential ascetical effort, but seriously - is Christianity how strict one Patriarchate fasts over another, or is it love for God and neighbor, humility, and obedience?  Sure, fasting properly can lead to increased humility and love for God, but it can just as easily lead to pride and judgment.  Be careful, brothers.

Forgive me for rambling about this, but there are more pressing concerns for the Church than whether Antioch fasts during Pentecost or not.  Let Patriarch Ignatius do what he will.  It's his perogative as Patriarch.  Unless what he is doing is heretical (and I'll raise my eyebrows at anyone who says it is), no one should judge him for it.  I seriously doubt that he woke up one morning and just pulled this idea out of his you-know-what and said, "Hey - I think I'll change the fasting rule for my Patriarchate today, and see what happens."  Come on, folks.  There has got to be a good reason behind it.  I'm not sure where to start looking for that reason, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

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« Reply #41 on: November 21, 2008, 08:45:43 PM »

In researching this issue a bit further, I came across the following article here:http://www.saintignatiuschurch.org/mm0698.html. It may shed some light on the issue.

"'All things are lawful for me,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful for me,' but I will not be enslaved by anything." 1 Corinthians 6:12

Faced with a choice between remaining silent and speaking out, the Fathers of the Church, because of our pride and lack of knowledge, virtually always profess silence as the higher virtue. This month's meditation is a reluctant expression of my thoughts on the recent Synodal directives of the bishops of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America first to show support and trust for my bishops and secondly, to appeal to the radical reactions on either side of the debate.

The specific directive which has my attention is the discipline and practice of the Antiochian Archdiocese where, beginning the first Sunday after Pascha (St. Thomas Sunday) through the 32 days until the Feast of Ascension, we are no longer required to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays (amounting to five Wednesdays and four Fridays).

I must confess my own curiosity over this change in discipline as well as the timing of it (especially considering how Orthodoxy in North America seems to be crying out for issues of commonness rather than difference). I must also confess my very limited understanding of the evolved history of the Church's cycle of fasting and feasting. As a 37 year old cradle Orthodox, with humility I admit that it is only within the last 13 years that I have had any extended knowledge of this subject at all!

The reasoning behind this directive is clear. The forty days in which the Resurrected Christ walked with and taught His disciples is a time for celebration. "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?" (Mark 2:19). If we as Orthodox believe that we enter into the eternal now of Christ's redemptive actions and not just memorialize them, it is easy to understand this time as a time of celebration. Consider how the Church liturgically celebrates the awaiting of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost by not praying the great prayer of the Holy Spirit "O Heavenly King" until the day of its feast. It is not inconsistent, therefore, for the Church to celebrate the physical presence of the Risen Christ and the "absence" of the Holy Spirit until the Day of Pentecost (though neither are true outside of the eternal "once for all" nature of Gods' Redemption and Holy Will).

I, however, like many of us, am rationalistic and well-defined in the things I think I know. I was trained under the discipline of Bright Week (the week following Pascha) as the fast-free celebration of Pascha, then, after St. Thomas Sunday, the regular cycle of fasting begins again. Considering my own well-defined rationalism and my sole model of comparison, it is not hard to understand why others might view this new directive as an unprecedented innovation.

My curiosity, however, led me to humbly ask a few questions to discover the reasoning behind the change. The answers I received, from two very respectable sources, were virtually the same. It was explained to me that the forty day fast-free celebration of Pascha is a historical practice within the Patriarchate of Antioch and within the Russian Orthodox Church as well. These answers lead me to believe that I need both more balance and more study on the subject.

The most difficult and sad part of this issue, as is often the case, is the debate and the irrational reactions of both extremes; and for what reason other than a lack of both love and right judgment? There are those who proclaim that this change is a relaxation of standards leading us to the great apostasy (I was recently taught the Greek word vlakias meaning "legalism" also means "idiocy") and those who praise this change as liberation from the tyranny of self-denial (I recently heard the comment, "Next time you drive by your favorite fast food restaurant on Wednesday or Friday stop in for a burger... just because you can!"). Both greatly reveal a lack of grace and good discernment.

St. John Chrysostom captured the meaning of the need for standards of restraint when he explained fallen man's tendency to abuse freedom, "For our nature cannot bear to be doing nothing [liberty], but easily turns aside to wickedness" (Homily 36 on the Gospel of St. John). However, St. John, St. Basil and other Fathers "seem to refer to fasting in terms of advice rather than rigorous precepts... (reflecting how) the Orthodox Church prefers to give directives rather than literal instructions" (The Year of Grace of the Lord, S.V.S. Press, p. 130-31, #9). Therefore, our personal application of this directive must carefully reflect the true aim of discipline, according to conscience and circumstance, with graceful discernment between "the spirit and the letter of the law" (ibid.). Becoming judgmental and too pridefully defined or losing sight of our need for vigilance in our freedom, reveals that both extremes have forgotten that the spirit of the fast and the spirit of the feast are one and the same spirit, leading us always to Christ.

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« Reply #42 on: November 23, 2008, 10:15:40 PM »

..the final answer was worth the three year wait. Thanks to all. I think we can consider this thread closed.

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« Reply #43 on: April 19, 2012, 12:05:55 PM »

..the final answer was worth the three year wait. Thanks to all. I think we can consider this thread closed.
LOL.  Evidently not.
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,43538.msg720485.html#msg720485
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