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Author Topic: Re: Downsides of Converting  (Read 6840 times) Average Rating: 0
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Etheldritha
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« on: February 10, 2006, 11:01:29 PM »

Hello.

I'm new to the forum and I hope I give no offence, but I think many of the “down-sides” for converts aren’t as high-flown as jurisdictional and calendar issues. For me, it was utterly wonderful to find Orthodox spirituality and I, personally, don’t give a fig for jurisdictional and calendar issues. Infighting and ethnic issues go right over my head. We are all faulty human beings and I accept each person as I find them and can only hope that others can do the same with this humble sinner. My issue as a convert has been with what I consider the impracticalities and even dangers of the sudden implementation of the Fasts with converts, especially within the setting of our Western society. 

I think with Orthodoxy, as with all things, there is a “honeymoon” period and then the realisation hits home that to continue in the relationship you have chosen (Church, marriage or anything else for that matter) hard work and commitment is necessary. And sometimes, one simply has to make some practical adjustments or leave altogether.

I remember well the first flush of my romance with Orthodoxy. With great enthusiasm I approached the times of Fasting, searching the net for recipes, buying in all the “right” foods (which were completely foreign to my normal diet), and following all the rules to the letter. Then after about three years of progressively worse reactions to each period of fasting, I realised I had a serious problem. Fasting had actually made me overweight, (I just couldn’t shift the extra weight during the non-Fast periods and so each time a Fast came around I piled on more) - and worse than that, it had made me ill.   

At the time, my priest’s wife, rather than my priest, was very rigid about the matter and heaped (I’m sure without meaning to) a lot of guilt onto the situation. I talked to her about the difficulties I was having. She kept encouraging me, supplying me with her favourite Fast recipes, advising me to keep my energy levels up with fruit-juice and what amounted to highly refined carbohydrate foods. Basically, when I told her how awful I was feeling, so awful that I considered it irresponsible to drive in such a condition, I was told that I should be — and I quote - “happy to eat beans for Jesus!” (Whatever that is supposed to mean.) Well, such advice is all very well, but I’m home-schooling and it wasn’t any benefit to anyone if I couldn’t cope with lessons for almost two-thirds of the year, was wasting money on up-sizing my clothing, was physically ill and feeling utterly dejected. How was this doing anything “for Jesus”? And what did this all have to do with theosis? When she suggested that I join Weight Watchers (no way!) for the times in between the Fasts, I threw my hands up in despair. Was life ever going to be normal again? And could I continue with this?

By this time, I really could not come to grips with it all logically. I had converted for the sake of receiving the Eucharist and if I didn’t fast I couldn’t participate. So did that mean I had to already be perfect before being able to partake of the divine nature? But hold on a moment, isn’t the Church the hospital where the spiritually sick receive the “medicine of immortality” so that they overcome passions to attain theosis?

It didn’t make any sense. It was permissible to eat chocolate cake made with heaps of sugar, egg substitute and chemically-laden margarine instead of butter. One could replace milk with soy (which I am violently allergic to), olive oil with canola, indulge in all sorts of other unhealthy “treats”, but couldn’t have a boiled egg and a piece of toast for breakfast? So four times a year I was replacing my normal healthy diet for one loaded with carbohydrates, lacking in adequate sources of protein, making myself fat and ill — all for what? For Jesus? The whole enterprise seemed more like a farce than a fast.

When I finally was so sick that I had trouble getting out of bed in the morning, I popped along to see my doctor. After a whole raft of blood tests, there were some alarming results. My doctor called me in to see him and asked me what on earth I had been doing with regard to my diet. (Of course, he had noticed the extra weight, but the blood tests revealed how bad things really were.) After I told him what I was doing with regard to my diet, he advised me to stop immediately. I spoke to my priest who was shocked that fasting had been so detrimental to my health. He was very kind and explained to me that the Fasts aren’t all about what we eat, but the condition of our hearts (I’m not talking cardiac health, here — though it’s a point to consider) and our approach to serving God. So together we worked out a strategy for the Fast periods.

My approach to the Fasts is much more practical and relaxed now. I simply do the best I can. I eat as normally as possible, but cut out all red meat, all desserts and treats (no chocolate cake of any kind!). I don’t rent movies. I read inspirational Orthodox literature, and give as much as I can to Orthodox charities (not Weight Watchers!) 

I’m not suggesting in any way that people shouldn’t attempt the fasts, and all power to those who are successful. I think it’s wonderful! What I do think is that with converts there needs to be some consideration to the lifestyle and society in which we live and the possible effect such drastic changes in diet can cause. Whereas in the Middle East and other places it’s perfectly natural to have been brought up on lentils and chickpeas, it’s a darned painful experience for those who haven’t! It’s even worse if a convert is rushed into fasting without consideration of the possible negative affects on their health.










 

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« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2006, 11:24:57 PM »

there was an interesting thread in which Cleveland and some others were talking about fasting and shell fish - how shell fish used to be the staple of poor people and the fast diet guidelines were based on the the diet of the poor. Only in the last couple centuries did shell fish find its way onto the menu of the rich.

Anyway, perhaps it is time for, among a plethora of things needing clarification (like old vs. new calendar), having a pan-Othodox conference of bishops to address such things as fasting rules.

It is pharisaical to eat all these "substitue" foods - it's like chewing tobacco rather than smoking. And gourmet shell fish dishes ain't fasting folks!

Maybe eating simple fare, eating less, praying more and giving alms should consume us, rather than recipes, shopping for "substitute" foods (at a greater cost - it's expensive to eat "kosher" during Great Lent - so much for alms-giving); it's easy to get caught up in the "mint and cummin" and neglect the weightier matters of the law, so to speak.
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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2006, 12:04:46 AM »

I guess everyone's experience is a bit different. Personally, I've never had much trouble with skipping meals or following a repetitive menu. So even though I generally despise veggies and practically live on meat and dairy, I still get by OK as a part-time vegan. I eat different types of bread, beans, and I've definitely fallen in love with falafel and hummus (being careful to avoid the kind made with olive oil, of course). I throw in a little "salad" (basically a bowl of lettuce with a salad topping mix and some Italian dressing made without olive oil) now and then, some fruit, some peanut butter and jelly, and occasionally tater tots. And I'm pretty happy with that. I rarely eat more than one meal a day anyway, so that part doesn't amount to much for me. Going without anything to drink helps make it more meaningful, but I still don't notice much, especially if it's a busy day at work.

My biggest problem is that I'm the only one in my household who fasts. Since my wife's not even interested in Orthodoxy, I certainly don't expect her to conform to my eating habits. I make some compromises. If we eat together both Wed and Fri, I'll typically eat whatever she makes, which includes at least once per week eating a simple pasta and tomato sauce. During the extended fasts, I prepare most of my own meals, although we still eat together. Our 2-year-old son is usually more adventurous than she is--he actually likes falafel and usually gnaws on at least one "ball" wrapped in a pita. If she wants to go out to eat on a fast day, I go along and try to find something acceptable. That's where the shellfish allowance can come in handy. I try to avoid it, because it feels backward to me, but sometimes the only thing I can find on a menu is some type of shrimp dish.

I find that I generally lose weight during Lent--not so much during the lighter fasts. I think I get too comfortable with it and eat more than I should. I tend to eat quickly, so I don't always notice that I'm stuffing myself until it's too late. Even after my stomach shrinks a bit, I still find myself cramming two helpings of falafel and feeling uncomfortable the rest of the evening. I guess when it comes down to it, the main things are eating simply, infrequently, and small portions. If you can do that while observing the various other restrictions, great. If not, it's probably better to uphold the spirit than the letter.

Trevor
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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2006, 12:09:58 AM »

I hate to say this, and I am going to get pummeled for doing so, but alot of the fasting diet is for monastics to kill the libido, more than having anything to do with the average Christian coming closer to God.

Even before converting I strict fasted;and have done so for the past several years. Instead of the promised lightness and greater attentiveness to prayer, I only found distraction and stomach gas.

Here is another "aside" that shall get me some more lumps - I think the Latins do a better job of sorting things out regarding monastic and lay piety than Othodox do. We're all running around as married people and parents of our kids,worrying for aging parents in nursing homes, trying to practice this 4th - 6 th century monastic piety and getting VERY frustrated doing so.

Hey, the Bible wasn't written to 4th- 6th century monastics - it was written primarily to families (heads of households in that culture) who were trying to live out the faith in a pagan culture, often with persecutions. Yet we take as our norm, the experience of post-persecution monastics.
Anyway back to the subject of fasting...
A low protein diet has a downer effect on physiological functions that contribute to the sex drive. Of course, one must still deal with the mind, but when the body isn't adding its impulses so incessantly, it's a whole lot easier.

Low protein in the diet also can easily lead to weight gain and some physical lethargy. So overweight, unhealthy, protein starved monks could get an edge over lust, at least physically. (Yes, this is a generalization).
And maybe there is nothing wrong with that. I just don't like how we never want to admit the obvious (it's always, no, no, no - this is the tradition of the church, it's an "inspired" diet, for all Othodox Christians, for all time)

In 2006, it may be a whole lot simpler to take prozac (ie. to lower the libido, it has the same effect). And you are happier and less moody!!)

Then again, in our over-sexed culture, with all these adolescent and 20-something males on the prowl with no thoughts of marriage until their thirties, perhaps such a diet should be made mandatory for all single males under thirty!

But seriously, we Orthodox should do a better job at coming up with a genuine lay piety (not something watered down, however) that addresses the life we live in the world. Perhaps that is why some of these earnest converts burn out - they are trying to live out a monastic piety without the withdrawal from the world and support of a community and are doomed to failure.

One last thought, when you step outside the monastic box and start asking these kind of questions, you are just asking for trouble in Orthodoxy (which may be another reason these people drop out). Consider how negative people are to Fr. Schmemmen and others of the Russian emigree who tried to grapple with an interiorized monasticism for the everyday world. In a alot of Othodox circles they are personas non grata.
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2006, 12:23:30 AM »

Here is another "aside" that shall get me some more lumps - I think the Latins do a better job of sorting things out regarding monastic and lay piety than Othodox do. We're all running around as married people and parents of our kids,worrying for aging parents in nursing homes, trying to practice this 4th - 6 th century monastic piety and getting VERY frustrated doing so.

Nah no lumps, just an observation and maybe a question.

How do the Latins do a better job? As a former RC I can honestly say that I found the fasting and abstainance rules a joke. The laxity is terrible.

I think a plus about the Orthodox observance of Great Lent is the advice, "talk to your priest." They are well aware, as is Bishop Kalistos Ware in his intro to the Lenten Triodion that the spirit is more important than the legalistic aspects of the fast. There is a way to incorporate both the spiritual aspect and the fasting itself....you and your priest just have to find what works for you.

Regards,
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2006, 12:55:09 AM »

back to the original thread,

If I could talk to these convert dropouts I would simply implore them to continue, if nothing else, to attend Divine Liturgy. Salvation is found in the Church and the sacraments. It has worked for 2000 years for simple, illiterate peasants who had no ability or time to read; who fasted every day because their diet was so simple and restricted by their poverty, who said a few prayers, learned at their mother's knee, at rising, meals and bedtime.

I think this pleases God more than all the other *^%$ (ahem , other stuff)
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« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2006, 01:37:19 AM »

In all three parishes that I have been members of, the priests have been very moderating  on the new convert as they began fasting.  They met individually with each convert, discussed the  Fasting "goal" of the church and then individually established a plan for fasting for each member or new convert family.  In the space of three years, the new converts had successfully  entered into maintaining a fasting life style of Fast,prayer, and almsgiving that is the full extent of the practice resulting in great spiritual growth for the converts.

IHO, as we convert we try to do everything perfect immediately rather than approaching as a child does,gradually learning day by day.  A good spiritual pastor will lead his congregation as a good shepherd does carrying them as a shepherd does a lamb in their childhood or spiritual childhood with lots of individual attention and care of their needs, as they mature he will intervene with them less frequently as they mature allowing them to come to him as needed---intervening only when danger arises but always supportive , and as they become elderly become more attentive and supportive making use of their wisdom and provide them loving shelter of the faith..

As for the comment that many Fasting recipes rely heavy on sugars, margarine, etc.  There is always a large  sweets area of any cookbook, fasting or otherwise, but that does not mean that these recipes are not meant to be the mainstays of a  diet, fasting or otherwise, but rather were to be brief moments of joy in the somberness of the fast ( a dessert on Sunday or a treat for the coffee hour, a birthday, etc).  Most cradle orthodox see fasting as a regular part of their life and do so simply---converts however when asking for recipes are given the ones they feel are hardest to  do, the desserts, and so often in recipes shared during a fast the majority will be sweet dishes.

Fasting meals in the past were primarily the food of the poor---legumes, grains, and a Little fruit that would be cooked simply---Fasting in the past was most difficult on those who had plenty and ate much meat and fish that resulted in compromised digestive tracts (sounds like most Americans to me). Entering a fasting diet entails letting your digestive tract adjust to the new foods gradually.  Anyone going from a meat diet to a vegetarian diet will tell you it is an ongoing process that takes time to successfully adjust your digestive system.  Even the Church acknowledges this when it goes from the mixed diet of normal time to the full fasting diet of Great Lent. First we have regular fasting   of Wednesday, and Friday with many Orthodox adding eggs and subtracting meat on that week going to a week of dairy with vegetables, followed by Pure Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday with little or no food, allowing the digestive tract to cleanse and purge itself, followed by the eating of two vegetarian/fasting meals a day.  This continues to Pascha with a brief exception for fish on Annunciation Day and Palm Sunday.  Then Orthodox who are do Fast break the fast with soups, eggs, breads, and dairy products at the  meal following the Paschal Liturgy.  They then add meat at the main meal after the Agape service.

To the convert who has not been under good pastoral care this entire process again may have been missed and they will have trouble both with the Fast and with the Feast. I hope that each of you who have been converts will take a new one under your wing and help them through the upcoming fast by offering them meals, recipes and moral support.

In Christ,
Thomas
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« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2006, 02:16:52 AM »

Folks I split this off the initial topic as it iwas getting good remarks on its own as a response on fasting and new Converts.

In Christ,
Thomas
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« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2006, 02:39:17 AM »

I just don't like how we never want to admit the obvious (it's always, no, no, no - this is the tradition of the church, it's an "inspired" diet, for all Othodox Christians, for all time)

Sorry if this is repeated, but I don't think it posted the first time.

Anyway, I agree, and just how can this be the tradition of the Church for all time? The Feasts of Pascha and the Nativity weren't even part of the Church in the first centuries - let alone the Fast for the Dormition and the Apostles Fast.

Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.
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« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2006, 04:08:03 AM »

One could replace...olive oil with canola

Just to comment on this, it is a myth. All oils, not just olive oil, are restricted on non-oil fast days.

Now, as to fasting foods, I think the recipe books are oftentimes too complicated. For strict fasting, here are some easy ideas:

Breakfast: Quaker Oatmeal (most flavors are Lenten), Mixed Fruit in Syrup, or Granola.

Lunch (which I usually skip): PBJs, most Jelly, Avacado Sandwiches (with Tomato, Chives, and Mustard, for example), or Fresh Fruit.

Dinner: Many types of Rice (many mixes), and additions to Rice (steamed veggies, soy sauce, etc), spaghetti (it's easy to make a Lenten sauce: 2 cans Diced Tomoatoes, 2 cloves Garlic, chopped fine, a pinch of Oregano, and about 2-3 Tbsp Basil, more to taste. My own recipe: just simmer it together and serve), Vegetable Dishes, or even Chili.

The above ideas are just the tip of the iceberg, but all of them should be quick, and most importantly very easy to make, for the average American Orthodox! I'm not trying to give a cookbook, but simply show how easy it is for a convert to fast. No need to make desserts all the time, or weird foreign dishes that never come out quite right (Shocked). And since most new converts are not on the strictest fasts (which the ideas above are for), the possibilities are endless. Fasting shouldn't be complicated, but simple, as it was meant to be: no elaborate meals, but sacrificial, humble, and hopefully more healthy, eating.
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« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2006, 05:54:27 AM »

Dear Brizzlebin,

Thankyou for the simplicity of the three meals a day that you gave. Especially the suggestions for breakfast, often the hardest meal for those staring to fast to change.  We are often too used to the classic eggs and bacon, but the old reliable pottage, porridge, oatmeal, etc. were all fasting and actually popular food for the poor in days past.

It should be noted however that your statement about oils may be inaccurate.  I have been told by bishops from both the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and the Antiochian Patriarchate that the oil term used is strictly translated as "olive oil", as there are other terms used for the lesser vegetable oils, seen by the church fathers as trash oils, that are not used in the canons thus the Church Fathers meant specifically that olive oil was forbidden on all no oil days and allowed on oil days. However, in the Slavic Churches, the term used is for "oil "period with no differentiation between Olive and other oils, thus your statement is correct for Slavic Churches but not necessarily so for the Byzantine churches.

Of interesting note, Whale blubber, the mainstay of Alaskan Indian diet and necessary to provide the  high level of calories required to sustain life in the frozen north was allowed by the Russian Church fathers even though technically it was an animal product and should have been forbiddened. That exception is granted only to Orthodox Christians in that area and does not extend to the rest of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Again thanks for the simple menu sample for our convert members. By the way another comment on diet is that our ancestors also ate a less varied diet in the past. Whereas today a typical American family has about 20 different main courses in a month. In the past it could have been as many as 5-7 in a 30 day period and in some places only on Sunday had a different main course.

In Christ,
Thomas
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« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2006, 07:04:09 AM »

It should be noted however that your statement about oils may be inaccurate.  I have been told by bishops from both the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and the Antiochian Patriarchate that the oil term used is strictly translated as "olive oil", as there are other terms used for the lesser vegetable oils, seen by the church fathers as trash oils, that are not used in the canons thus the Church Fathers meant specifically that olive oil was forbidden on all no oil days and allowed on oil days. However, in the Slavic Churches, the term used is for "oil "period with no differentiation between Olive and other oils, thus your statement is correct for Slavic Churches but not necessarily so for the Byzantine churches.

I'm actually pretty sure that I've seen other oils allowed in Slavic articulations of fasting practice as well, but I might be mixing things up. In any case, I think the more important issue than vocabulary is probably one's understanding of what this particular abstinence is meant to accomplish. Olive oil tends to be more expensive and generally considered higher quality, so on that basis I guess you can say it's part of saving money for almsgiving to go with cheaper oils. On the other hand, it's more ascetic to give up the added flavor that comes from cooking in oils, which pretty much applies to any oil. The idea here would basically be, no fried foods, which I think we can all agree wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing (a healthy change, at least).

For me, the adaptation to our modern context is that we tend to eat a lot of prepared and prepackaged foods that didn't exist in the past. If I went out of my way to eat nothing with oil (which I guess would mean no refried beans, no tater tots or french fries, and no falafel), I'd eat less flavorful foods, to be sure, but I would also spend more time and effort preparing my own food (boiling my own beans and potatoes, for instance), which diminishes some of the simplicity. This is a problem for me already, because I'm the only one fasting in my home, so I have to take on preparation of my own meals, where otherwise my wife normally does most of the cooking. In my case, the simpler, less time-consuming option that allowed more time for prayer, etc., would be to eat whatever she prepares and forget about fasting. So I can't really get around that. But if I can stick with a can of refried beans or falafel mix, which takes only a couple of minutes to prepare, the food part of my day goes much more quickly.

Something else to consider is that, if fasting is supposed to emulate the diet of the poor, it is a known fact that in America the prepared, high-empty-calorie foods are the cheapest, which has a lot to do with the obesity problem in lower economic categories. I'm not saying we should eat junk food when we fast, but there is a certain logic in the experience some have talked about, of getting less healthy while fasting. Personally, I eat a lot of junk food anyway, and I don't struggle much with overspending, so I consider it the greater hardship to eat healthier than usual while fasting.

Trevor
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« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2006, 09:56:19 AM »

In the OP, the reason there appeared to be real problems is because the issue didn't get taken before the priest, but somehow instead ended up before the Matushka! She's got a role in the parish, but dictating your fasting diet ain't it. The priest gave you the teaching you needed immediately.

Fasting is never intended to make you physically ill, and if you find yourself becoming so, you should talk to your priest immediately.
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« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2006, 09:59:44 AM »

I am in a hurry right now, but it is true that the olive oil only idea is a myth, and I will post more on that later. In short, all foods with oil are out. Other oils can do the same things that olive oil can. Using other oils is more of a legalistic loophole: many other oils were not known, or not commonly used, at the time the canons were made (take peanut oil for example).
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« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2006, 10:08:31 AM »

When done PROPERLY, fasting according to all the guidelines of the Church is incredibly healthy. It is a vegan diet low in fat, chloresterol, and simple sugars, and high in vitamin/minerals, vegetable proteins, and fiber. But fasting meals cannot all just consist of the easily prepared, modern day spaghetti and so on that is higher in calories and lower in substantial nutrition.

When done with whole grain materials, a substantial variety of fruits and veggies and a proper mix of legumes, a strict fast will not be detrimental to the average person's health. It takes a closer look at nutrition, which in turn necessitates a closer look at eating to live instead of living to eat--which is one of the reasons we do it. For those who find themselves in another situation, that's the reason the Church has economia.

A friend of mine was getting headaches and feeling extremely ill after about 2 weeks of lent. She ate a piece of chicken a day for 2-3 days and her health was regained. It's NEVER about making yourself ill.
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« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2006, 10:18:33 AM »

Just to comment on this, it is a myth. All oils, not just olive oil, are restricted on non-oil fast days.

Do you think Bishop's Kasllistos' remarks to the contrary in his preface to the Lenten Triodion are misguided? Maybe becasue I'm a baby Orthodox my priest allows some leeway for me. Oh, yes I see your comment below, no need to clarify that.



Quote
The above ideas are just the tip of the iceberg, but all of them should be quick, and most importantly very easy to make, for the average American Orthodox! I'm not trying to give a cookbook, but simply show how easy it is for a convert to fast. No need to make desserts all the time, or weird foreign dishes that never come out quite right (Shocked). And since most new converts are not on the strictest fasts (which the ideas above are for), the possibilities are endless. Fasting shouldn't be complicated, but simple, as it was meant to be: no elaborate meals, but sacrificial, humble, and hopefully more healthy, eating.

Thank you for your understanding and sensitivity.
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« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2006, 10:21:50 AM »

I agree with Biz and choir on their points

regarding legalisitc loopholes, all these veggie burgers, sausages, etc. may just be that; like I said before, chewing tobacco as a substitue for smoking

the diet some of you young guys can subsist on (and do it without weight gain) is a whole lot different than what we older folk can tolerate - so thanks choirf for your insights  [I could not function on 7 weeks of oatmeal/ PBJ/ spagetti)

BTW someone mentioned fasting as a way of life for cradle Orthodox - I also see alot of cradles wink at fasting (then eat what they want); to the point where my wife asked "why the %&@* are we fasting, no one else seems to do it"
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« Reply #17 on: February 11, 2006, 01:57:57 PM »


BTW someone mentioned fasting as a way of life for cradle Orthodox - I also see alot of cradles wink at fasting (then eat what they want); to the point where my wife asked "why the %&@* are we fasting, no one else seems to do it"

And the answer just might be: Maybe because we take the log out of our own eye before we worry about the splinter in someone elses. Wink
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« Reply #18 on: February 11, 2006, 03:32:29 PM »

I hate to say this, and I am going to get pummeled for doing so, but alot of the fasting diet is for monastics to kill the libido, more than having anything to do with the average Christian coming closer to God.

Even before converting I strict fasted;and have done so for the past several years. Instead of the promised lightness and greater attentiveness to prayer, I only found distraction and stomach gas.

Here is another "aside" that shall get me some more lumps - I think the Latins do a better job of sorting things out regarding monastic and lay piety than Othodox do. We're all running around as married people and parents of our kids,worrying for aging parents in nursing homes, trying to practice this 4th - 6 th century monastic piety and getting VERY frustrated doing so.


You won't get any "lumps" from me because I think what you write here is very sensible.  A good friend of mine is a Roman Catholic priest.  He's very pious and fasts every lent but he's asked me very pointedly at times why I'm trying to keep a monastic discipline when I'm not monastic.  I think his point is very valid.  I don't think that those of us living in the real world can keep monastic discipline over a lifetime.  In fact, I don't think anyone does.  I've discussed this with an Orthodox priest who told me that he doesn't anyone keeps the fast perfectly. 

I think, unfortunately, that a lot of folks on-line in their 'honeymoon' phase of Orthodoxy, keeping the fasts meticulously, so we get the feeling that all Orthodox Christians are like that when they're not. 

As for the lay piety comment, I completely agree, although I'd argue that Orthodoxy has a 'lay piety' of its own, i.e. only receiving communion once a year.  I know some Serbians and they receive communion once a year at Easter.  They keep the fast strictly during the week before easter. 

However, those of us in the 'modern' Orthodox jurisdictions where frequent communion is encouraged and practiced are caught in a bind, so to speak.  We have to keep the same "rules" but all of the time.  Which is why we need to get away from on-line Orthodoxy and get guidance from people who actually know us. 

This on-line Orthodoxy thing is tied in with my original post.  It seems to me that the extremist Orthodox groups that become attractive to these angry young men exist mostly on-line.  Zollars is a perfect example of this.  On-line ORthodoxy was poison to him.  He almost got sucked into a cult.  These guys "discover" that their local Antiochian/OCA priest is a ecumenist heretic by reading rants on-line from God only knows who.  Often from people who have no responsibility for a real parish and real souls.  Then they go off in a huff to ROCOR.  Then they read on-line that ROCOR isn't good enough so they go off to ROAC which probably doesn't have a parish anywhere near them so they do reader services in their living room. 

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« Reply #19 on: February 11, 2006, 04:29:40 PM »

Jennifer,

While Justin is here to read and post in this thread as he sees fit, Joe Z. isn't.  I think it is a little rude to speak about him in such a manner - especially since he no longer associates with the ROAC/Buena Vista crowd.  It also makes it appear that this thread is about being personally vindictive over Justin and Joe, opposed to geniune concern about the convert movement in American Orthodoxy. 
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« Reply #20 on: February 11, 2006, 05:24:27 PM »

Zollars hasn't posted on this forum since June 24, 2004. I don't think there's any reason to mention him by name.  So please don't.

Anastasios
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« Reply #21 on: February 11, 2006, 05:47:50 PM »

I hate to say this, and I am going to get pummeled for doing so, but alot of the fasting diet is for monastics to kill the libido, more than having anything to do with the average Christian coming closer to God.

I don't agree, but I'm not going to pummel you Smiley In our modern culture, with the rampant materialism and oversexed nonsense that surrounds us, strict fasting during fasting periods is very helpful (note: I just read below what you wrote about under 30 men. Unfortunately, I don't think it's just under 30 men who are like this now. But if I started citing why I believe this to be the case, I would have to repeat some utterly scandalous things I have witnessed or read about lol!)

Quote
Even before converting I strict fasted;and have done so for the past several years. Instead of the promised lightness and greater attentiveness to prayer, I only found distraction and stomach gas.

It's very good that you have persisted in strict fasting. Don't give up. It has taken a lot of us a long time to even begin to strict fast (for me, seven years of trying before I actually was able to do it regularly, and I still make lapses!)  But the immense benefit I get out of it makes it worth it to me.  I hope you won't give up!

Quote
Here is another "aside" that shall get me some more lumps - I think the Latins do a better job of sorting things out regarding monastic and lay piety than Othodox do. We're all running around as married people and parents of our kids,worrying for aging parents in nursing homes, trying to practice this 4th - 6 th century monastic piety and getting VERY frustrated doing so.

I couldn't disagree more.  The Latins have no concept of fasting left now after Vatican II. I often hear RC people talking about the steak they ate on a Lenten weekday, etc. This "lay standard" is abnormal and dangerous.  And I just don't get where this idea that it's "4th to 6th century monastic piety" comes from? Is this what some priests or scholars tell people? In my parish I've never heard it referenced as "4th to 6th century monastic piety" but just "the fasting rules."  I mean I know all about how the monastic typikon got blended with the cathedral rite after the fall of Constantinople, etc., but such sentiments seem to suggest that in 300 AD or 800 AD it was ok to be munching on pork and drinking milk during weekdays of Lent. Laity had strict fasting before the monastic rite came to dominate! Besides, monastics fast more than laity even today. I guess I just am ignorant or something, but I've only heard online people talk about this.  And no I'm not saying that as a passive-aggressive peremptory comment to Jennifer's below about crazy online people. Seriously, even in seminary people didn't talk like that.

Quote
Then again, in our over-sexed culture, with all these adolescent and 20-something males on the prowl with no thoughts of marriage until their thirties, perhaps such a diet should be made mandatory for all single males under thirty!

Hehe. Smiley

Quote
But seriously, we Orthodox should do a better job at coming up with a genuine lay piety (not something watered down, however) that addresses the life we live in the world. Perhaps that is why some of these earnest converts burn out - they are trying to live out a monastic piety without the withdrawal from the world and support of a community and are doomed to failure.

But any attempt to do so would automatically be "unOrthodox", because this is not how piety developed in the past 2000 years, and to just create an artificial lay piety would have a very fake feel to it, I would think.  It's better just to go to your spiritual father and get a blessing to not do it or just not do it as much than to try and change the standard. That's what I like about Orthodoxy so much; a real high standard, and an expectation that you won't meet that standard for some time, maybe even a lifetime. So much better than what I encountered in the RCC, with them always trying to lower the bar and in the end hardly anyone did anything and they thought people who did were "weird."

Quote
One last thought, when you step outside the monastic box and start asking these kind of questions, you are just asking for trouble in Orthodoxy (which may be another reason these people drop out). Consider how negative people are to Fr. Schmemmen and others of the Russian emigree who tried to grapple with an interiorized monasticism for the everyday world. In a alot of Othodox circles they are personas non grata.

People aren't negative I think because it's a new idea or a new way of thinking, but because those ideas have produced an ethos in America that is simply strange.  Reading Fr Schmemann's journals makes me depressed and makes me wonder why anyone would want to be Orthodox after reading such negativity.  All his talk about sanctying our day to day makes it seem to me like why shouldn't I just be a deist then? If he had come up with his ideas without being so judgmental and "messianic" then maybe he would have gotten somewhere, though.

I hope you don't read my post and get the impression that I am attacking you personally. I understand what you want as the result and can agree that some things are not working so to speak, but am cautious about the approach you have outlined and some of the categories you are using.  I just think it's better to not alter the Tradition of fasting and if we can't live up to it, we keep trying, not create new practices for one subset of Christians.

Anastasios

Addendum: I also should have pointed out that in many Orthodox cultures, the fasts are naturally reduced by the people anyway.  If they aren't going to communion they might loosen up a bit, and this isn't seen as much of a problem (although it's always a recognition that they are not doing their best).  Kind of like when someone needs to leave work early or take a sick day "just because" it seems to me.  I think it would be a real shame if we copied the RC's and chucked the Tradition of fasting the way it has been handed down to us and refined over 2000 years.
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« Reply #22 on: February 11, 2006, 05:55:40 PM »

...why I'm trying to keep a monastic discipline when I'm not monastic.  I think his point is very valid. 

My GOA Priest has said the same thing to me - he says try to keep the Pascha fast - that is the only one that the laity needs to pay attention to.
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« Reply #23 on: February 11, 2006, 05:58:12 PM »

My GOA Priest has said the same thing to me - he says try to keep the Pascha fast - that is the only one that the laity needs to pay attention to.

Yeah, why the heck would anyone want to prepare for Christmas, St. Peter and Paul, or the Dormition? And Wed and Fri? I mean come on, those early Christians did it in the Didache but why should us enlightened 21st century folks do that? lol

Your GOA priest makes it out like fasting is a burden.

Anastasios
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« Reply #24 on: February 11, 2006, 06:02:34 PM »

Yeah, why the heck would anyone want to prepare for Christmas, St. Peter and Paul, or the Dormition? And Wed and Fri? I mean come on, those early Christians did it in the Didache but why should us enlightened 21st century folks do that? lol

Your GOA priest makes it out like fasting is a burden.

Anastasios

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Well it is a burden, just one that we should gladly bear.
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« Reply #25 on: February 11, 2006, 07:16:11 PM »

- Monastic ethos didn't become the prominent one in Orthodoxy until the 13th-14 centuries, when the monks were the ones who preserved Orthodox practice during Latin occupation of the City.  Furthermore, it wasn't the dominant one until the occupation and the decline of eastern theology.  But fasting has been part of the CHurch since before the time of Christ.  So the idea that any fasting at all is a monastic practice not applicable to laity knows neither the scripture nor the Tradition of the Church.

- There are fasting routines that are purely monastic: no meat at all during the year; one meal a day during certain periods, etc.  But the general perscription for fasting is sound for the laity, especially when in concert with the directions of your priest/spiritual father.  I don't think the average lay person needs to go to a spiritual father for everything (cause that is definitely monastic), but to come up with a fasting routine I would suggest it.  Normally the direction is to do it a bit lighter than the Church's prescribed fast, until the fast becomes second nature, and then the intensity may ratchet up a bit.  A big part of growing in Christ is developing relationships that move towards him; the spiritual child/father one is an example of this, and when used properly the SF will only ask you to do a fasting routine that is difficult but not crippling, and eventually you'll be able to say to him that the fast is really easy (and then it will change for you).
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« Reply #26 on: February 11, 2006, 07:23:24 PM »

Reading Fr Schmemann's journals makes me depressed and makes me wonder why anyone would want to be Orthodox after reading such negativity.�  All his talk about sanctfying our day to day makes it seem to me like why shouldn't I just be a deist then? If he had come up with his ideas without being so judgmental and "messianic" then maybe he would have gotten somewhere, though.

Um...huh.  I've read those journals, too, and have no idea what you're referring to.  I love his ideas of sanctifying our day to day lives (fwir of his writings on the subject), so I guess I'm not on the same wavelength...
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« Reply #27 on: February 11, 2006, 07:46:14 PM »

Quote
I also should have pointed out that in many Orthodox cultures, the fasts are naturally reduced by the people anyway.  If they aren't going to communion they might loosen up a bit, and this isn't seen as much of a problem (although it's always a recognition that they are not doing their best).  Kind of like when someone needs to leave work early or take a sick day "just because" it seems to me.  I think it would be a real shame if we copied the RC's and chucked the Tradition of fasting the way it has been handed down to us and refined over 2000 years.

Interestingly enough I have never seen missing a fast classified as anything akin to a "mortal sin" in Orthodoxy.  Whereas eating a hamburger on a Friday in lent (but not fried fish with ice cream for dessert!) could in theory be enough to condemn one to hell in RC teaching.  To me that is much more legalistic then Orthodoxy saying that the strict fasts are the optimal, but allowing people to work towards that - it isn't all or nothing. 
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« Reply #28 on: February 11, 2006, 08:34:04 PM »

A friend of mine was getting headaches and feeling extremely ill after about 2 weeks of lent. She ate a piece of chicken a day for 2-3 days and her health was regained. It's NEVER about making yourself ill.

I hope I’m not going to open a can of worms here, but an interesting point regarding fasting is that it can be particularly hard on women. Many women, whether they know it or not, are suffering from some degree of iron deficiency, and this condition is exacerbated by fasting from iron-rich foods, especially during the long fasts.

Eating plenty of iron-containing foods is particularly important for people who have higher iron requirements, such as children and menstruating or pregnant women.

Whist the fast restrictions take into account the needs of the pregnant and lactating women, it doesn’t appear to take into account the needs of growing children and menstruating women.

Foods that are rich in iron include red meat, seafood, poultry and eggs. Meat sources of iron are easily absorbed by the body, whereas plant-based food, also a good source of iron, are less easily absorbed and — from what I understand — would need to be eaten in vast quantities to equal what is readily obtained in small amounts of animal products.

The claim that a vegan diet is healthy omits to take this factor into account. Being a part-time vegan might not be such a problem for an adult male, but it could be potentially damaging for children and menstruating females.

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« Reply #29 on: February 11, 2006, 09:04:12 PM »

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it doesn’t appear to take into account the needs of growing children

I've never been told that children are supposed to fast, even from the most strict people in the Orthodox world - ROCOR or Fr. Ephraim's monasteries.  To me this discussion just goes to show people have no common sense nor any knowledge of their bodies.  If you are in a situation where you need extra food, eat it.  Even in monasteries monks with obediences that entail much physical labor have relaxed fasts. 
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« Reply #30 on: February 11, 2006, 09:47:19 PM »

Do you think Bishop's Kasllistos' remarks to the contrary in his preface to the Lenten Triodion are misguided? Maybe becasue I'm a baby Orthodox my priest allows some leeway for me. Oh, yes I see your comment below, no need to clarify that.



Thank you for your understanding and sensitivity.

I am confused by what you wrote. Do you mean you do or don't understand why all oils are abstained from? If the former case is true (and no one else has any questions about it), I probably won't bother getting the articles.

Also, is your last line sarcastic? I can't tell.
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« Reply #31 on: February 11, 2006, 10:13:57 PM »

I am confused by what you wrote. Do you mean you do or don't understand why all oils are abstained from? If the former case is true (and no one else has any questions about it), I probably won't bother getting the articles.

Also, is your last line sarcastic? I can't tell.

Brother,

First, I was sincere and honest in my thanks to you for your post.

Secondly, I understand why we abstan from oil, but Bishop Kalistos in his intro to the Triodion says it really only applies to olive oil. After all, almost everything we eat contains oils...especially peanut butter. Feel free to provide sources for my clarification.

With sincere regards,
Douglas
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« Reply #32 on: February 11, 2006, 10:17:42 PM »

Foods that are rich in iron include red meat, seafood, poultry and eggs. Meat sources of iron are easily absorbed by the body, whereas plant-based food, also a good source of iron, are less easily absorbed and — from what I understand — would need to be eaten in vast quantities to equal what is readily obtained in small amounts of animal products.

Actually, beans, the same way we get lots of protein during Lent, provide a good supply of iron too. Of course, if you're concerned you're still not getting enough, you can always take a supplement, which shouldn't interefere with any fast.
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« Reply #33 on: February 11, 2006, 10:40:22 PM »

The Latins have no concept of fasting left now after Vatican II. I often hear RC people talking about the steak they ate on a Lenten weekday, etc. This "lay standard" is abnormal and dangerous.

Indeed. The lay standard has become the norm becasue the fasting rules have become so lax in the post- VAtican II age. There are only TWO days of fasting, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. If you look at the specifics as to how this so called fasting should be carried out it is laughable. And the RCC only has abstainance from meat on the Fridays during Lent. I felt the need the need for more. More tradition and more discipline. The Orthodox calendar of fasting helps make me spiritually whole.

 
Quote
And I just don't get where this idea that it's "4th to 6th century monastic piety" comes from? Is this what some priests or scholars tell people? In my parish I've never heard it referenced as "4th to 6th century monastic piety" but just "the fasting rules."¦nbsp; I mean I know all about how the monastic typikon got blended with the cathedral rite after the fall of Constantinople, etc., but such sentiments seem to suggest that in 300 AD or 800 AD it was ok to be munching on pork and drinking milk during weekdays of Lent. Laity had strict fasting before the monastic rite came to dominate! Besides, monastics fast more than laity even today. I guess I just am ignorant or something, but I've only heard online people talk about this.¦nbsp; And no I'm not saying that as a passive-aggressive peremptory comment to Jennifer's below about crazy online people. Seriously, even in seminary people didn't talk like that.

But any attempt to do so would automatically be "unOrthodox", because this is not how piety developed in the past 2000 years, and to just create an artificial lay piety would have a very fake feel to it, I would think.¦nbsp; It's better just to go to your spiritual father and get a blessing to not do it or just not do it as much than to try and change the standard. That's what I like about Orthodoxy so much; a real high standard, and an expectation that you won't meet that standard for some time, maybe even a lifetime. So much better than what I encountered in the RCC, with them always trying to lower the bar and in the end hardly anyone did anything and they thought people who did were "weird."

Addendum: I also should have pointed out that in many Orthodox cultures, the fasts are naturally reduced by the people anyway.  If they aren't going to communion they might loosen up a bit, and this isn't seen as much of a problem (although it's always a recognition that they are not doing their best).  Kind of like when someone needs to leave work early or take a sick day "just because" it seems to me.  I think it would be a real shame if we copied the RC's and chucked the Tradition of fasting the way it has been handed down to us and refined over 2000 years.

Very good points here. I try to keep it very very simple. In December Fr. tells me to take a parish calendar. This calendar has little white and pink boxes on it. When the box is pink I follow the fasting rule for that day. I don't give two hoots what anyone else is doing or not doing. I know Fr. didn't tell me to take a calendar so I would remember what day of the week it is. Wink

Regards,
Douglas
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« Reply #34 on: February 11, 2006, 11:00:42 PM »

Brother,

First, I was sincere and honest in my thanks to you for your post.

Secondly, I understand why we abstan from oil, but Bishop Kalistos in his intro to the Triodion says it really only applies to olive oil. After all, almost everything we eat contains oils...especially peanut butter. Feel free to provide sources for my clarification.

With sincere regards,
Douglas

Ok, thanks then Smiley

There was a really good article on the topic that I cannot seem to re-locate, but I nonetheless have other sources. I think the most compelling is the Typicon (Ustav) itself. From Chapter 33:

"It is fitting to know, that during the fast of the Holy Apostles, and of the Nativity of Christ, on Tuesday and Thursday, we do not eat fish, but oil and wine only. On Monday, on Wednesday and Friday, we taste neither oil nor wine, but we fast until the ninth hour, and on these days we eat dry food. On Saturdays and Sundays we eat fish.

If a saint having the [Great] Doxology occurs on a Tuesday or on a Thursday, we eat fish.

If on a Monday, likewise.

If on a Wednesday or a Friday, we permit oil and wine only; we eat once a day.

If a saint having a vigil [occurs] on a Wednesday or a Friday, we permit oil and wine and fish.

If the memorial of the saint whose temple it is occurs on a Wednesday or a Friday, we do likewise."


There is simply no distinction of oils here. Also, as I mentioned earlier, many areas where Christianity was prominent used primarily olive oils. However, in America, this is definately not the case. So, while some local traditions may permit the use of olive oils, these are an economia, a loosening of the actual Typicon. Since no such predisposition towards one oil exists in America, it makes sense that we should abstain from them all, or at the very least, severely restrict our intake of any of them. The former is certainly the goal, but the latter maybe more feasable for us, and is certainly not against the spirit of the previously mentioned economia.
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« Reply #35 on: February 11, 2006, 11:19:53 PM »

Ok, thanks then Smiley

There was a really good article on the topic that I cannot seem to re-locate, but I nonetheless have other sources. I think the most compelling is the Typicon (Ustav) itself. From Chapter 33:

"It is fitting to know, that during the fast of the Holy Apostles, and of the Nativity of Christ, on Tuesday and Thursday, we do not eat fish, but oil and wine only. On Monday, on Wednesday and Friday, we taste neither oil nor wine, but we fast until the ninth hour, and on these days we eat dry food. On Saturdays and Sundays we eat fish.

If a saint having the [Great] Doxology occurs on a Tuesday or on a Thursday, we eat fish.

If on a Monday, likewise.

If on a Wednesday or a Friday, we permit oil and wine only; we eat once a day.

If a saint having a vigil [occurs] on a Wednesday or a Friday, we permit oil and wine and fish.

If the memorial of the saint whose temple it is occurs on a Wednesday or a Friday, we do likewise."


There is simply no distinction of oils here. Also, as I mentioned earlier, many areas where Christianity was prominent used primarily olive oils. However, in America, this is definately not the case. So, while some local traditions may permit the use of olive oils, these are an economia, a loosening of the actual Typicon. Since no such predisposition towards one oil exists in America, it makes sense that we should abstain from them all, or at the very least, severely restrict our intake of any of them. The former is certainly the goal, but the latter maybe more feasable for us, and is certainly not against the spirit of the previously mentioned economia.

Thank you for that.

Warm regards.
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« Reply #36 on: February 11, 2006, 11:54:06 PM »

[quote author=Νεκτάριος link=topic=8176.msg107042#msg107042 date=1139706252]
I've never been told that children are supposed to fast, even from the most strict people in the Orthodox world - ROCOR or Fr. Ephraim's monasteries. [/quote]

"Children should be instructed as to the purpose and meaning of church observances such as the procedures of fasting. Children should be taught the ideals of abstention from foods and from iniquities and their relationship to prayer, alms-giving, self-control and love. Children of sound health should fast. The main purpose of children fasting is to make them aware that fasting is a dedication and pledge to obey the principles of faith in Christ. Infants are not required to fast. However, the feeding of infants should take place at least two or three hours before Holy Communion." (see - http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article8125.asp)

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« Reply #37 on: February 12, 2006, 12:03:19 AM »

Ahh, yes, but this is where the relationship with the priest comes in: they (the children) should fast, but not like the adults fast.  Fasting as the adults do can be detrimental to their health, especially if they are in periods of steep growth...  It also depends on how old they are; one can't expect a 10-year old to fast the same as a 16-year old - they are at different maturity levels and should be reaching for different spiritual planes...
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« Reply #38 on: February 12, 2006, 12:31:06 AM »

Cleveland,

My post was in response to the following...

[quote author=Νεκτάριος link=topic=8176.msg107042#msg107042 date=1139706252]
I've never been told that children are supposed to fast, even from the most strict people in the Orthodox world - ROCOR or Fr. Ephraim's monasteries. [/quote]

And I must add that I have had but two priests in my time as Orthodox and neither have made any comments regarding adaption of the fasts for children.

Lord have mercy on me, a sinner
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« Reply #39 on: February 12, 2006, 12:32:22 AM »

let me make something VERY clear
Since BEFORE I was an official catechumen I observed the Wed and Fri fasts (figuring that if I was considering Orthodoxy I might want to check out this thing called fasting since my protestant background didn't include this spiritual discipline). Oh, and BTW I didn't need a calendar with pink squares to do so!

Furthermore, I have now been a non-smoker for 3&1/2 years. Beating nicotine makes most fasting rules seem not that bad!

I strict fasted as a non-catechumen, as a catechumen and as a convert during my first 3 Great Lents and plan to do so for my 4th,
I have added the other fasts - most particiularly Dormition and at least the Ukranian practice of meatless Mon/Wed/ Fri for Nativity Lent. I still have not been able to muster the energy for the apostles fast so soon after great lent, I must confess.

So my questions about fasting aren't a ruse or excuse for someone too lazy to fast or looking for loopholes.

But it is RIDICULOUS to prepare and eat gourmet shell fish dinners and call that fasting because it meets strict cannon requirements. Or to eat veggie burgers for lunch and eggos and veggie sausage for breakfast and shrimp and fries (cooked in veggie oil - sorry Biz, i read your posts but alot of Orth approve non-olive oils during lent; I was told that olive oil and wine were carried in animal skins, hence that contact with animal product made them unkosher) for dinner and think you've done something special

And I know that some form of fasting has been a part of Jewish and Christian practice - I am not ignorant of either Scripture or Tradition.

I NEVER questioned fasting -- I asked some questions about HOW we observe the fasts and if the bishops and hierarchs might be able to update and/or clarify - we now have foods (commercially and chemically produced) ¦nbsp;and situations (expensive, gourmet shellfish) that didn't exist previously.

As for the 3rd - 6th century monasticism, I am referring to the green martyrdom that the early monastic/ascetics put upon themselves since Roman persecution ended after Constantine. No doubt the early persecuted Christians fasted, but did they follow fasting rules developed by green martyrs? I'm not so sure.

And when I have literally witnessed cradles smirking or winking about fasting rules, or my good cradle orthodox friend telling me he quit going to church because he got sick of (among other things) the prominent families at the church coming straight from the nearby diner for breakfast into the liurgy late, but just in time to take their prominent seats and to take communion, I am reporting things that really happened and am not projecting and don't need a suggestion that I remove the log form my own eye. My wife has a very young faith as a former agnostic (she never went to the protestant church with me, but she actually converted to Orthodoxy) and the non-strictness of some cradle Orthodox has had a negative effect on her, as has the constant negative sniping at our priest by the mostly cradle choir.
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« Reply #40 on: February 12, 2006, 12:35:46 AM »

BTW Anastasios is a wonderful example of how to respectfully and honestly reply to a post, even one you mostly disagree with

Thank you A!
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« Reply #41 on: February 12, 2006, 12:39:30 AM »

Actually, beans, the same way we get lots of protein during Lent, provide a good supply of iron too. Of course, if you're concerned you're still not getting enough, you can always take a supplement, which shouldn't interefere with any fast.

Bizzlebin,

Obtaining iron from sources other than natural is a very dodgy prospect and can be dangerous. It's not one that I would suggest, especially in the case of children.

Lord have mercy on me, a sinner
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« Reply #42 on: February 12, 2006, 12:44:08 AM »

oops was looking at the quick replies below!
or is it the "shouts"?
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« Reply #43 on: February 12, 2006, 12:45:08 AM »

Bizzlebin,

Obtaining iron from sources other than natural is a very dodgy prospect and can be dangerous. It's not one that I would suggest, especially in the case of children.

Lord have mercy on me, a sinner

I am also somewhat skeptical of certain supplements, which is why I recommended beans first and foremost Smiley Chili, humus, certain curry dishes with beans, etc are all good ways to get iron and protein. However, if a supplement is OK'ed personally by your doctor, while it may not completely live up to it's expectations, it is providing some benefit.
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« Reply #44 on: February 12, 2006, 12:52:59 AM »

(cooked in veggie oil - sorry Biz, i read your posts but alot of Orth approve non-olive oils during lent; I was told that olive oil and wine were carried in animal skins, hence that contact with animal product made them unkosher)

I understand your concern. Of course, I am of the strong opinion that majority doesn't make right, but consider this: did the earliest peanut oils come in tightly sealed jars with labels and bar codes? I would posit that they touched animal skins too. And being primarily produced in non-Jewish/Christian areas, where "kosherness" was not a factor, there is no telling what was in it. (Though, I think this is hardly the reason behind abstaining from oil.) I'd also like to ask: since wine and olive oil are no longer carried in animal skins, does this make fasting from them null and void?

Just (Lenten) food for thought Cheesy
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« Reply #45 on: February 12, 2006, 01:07:42 AM »

While there is the animal skin issue, I think the deeper issue with wine and oil is how they were used in traditional Greek cooking.  As I understand it anything cooked was cooked in oil.  Hence a fast from oil meant basicly bread and dry veggies.  A sort of de facto out come of this is making shelfish only allowed on days with wine and oil.  If one looks at the letter of the fast - (i.e one meal for the first three days of lent, one meal per weekday only after sunset henceforth) - few, even among monastics, keep it.  I think the more important thing is to struggle as much as one can with the mentality "God be merciful to me, a sinner." 
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« Reply #46 on: February 12, 2006, 09:44:39 AM »

 thanks Nektarios
this whole thread has at least been enlightening
What I have learned is:
1. The strictest guidelines for fasting are such that only the most extreme ascetics can keep them
2. All are agreed on the abstinence from olive oil; different regions of Orthodoxy differ historically on the use of other oils
3. shell fish were once considered, if not objectionable, then at least part of the coastal poor's diet and not coveted by the wealthy
4. from what Nektarios wrote, it would be difficult for a male working out in the world to function on the strictest guidelines, let alone women and children, so check with your priest or spiritual father for what is right for you
5.¦nbsp; hard laboring monks even were given exceptions to the strict guidelines
6. people with medical conditions should consult their doctor AND their priest (eg. diabetics)
7. women should address iron deficiency issues with regard to fasting, consult with your physician
8 young children, pregnant women, the elderly and infirm should be given light fasting guidelines, if any at all
9. we should try to eat simply and try to eat less during lent ( rather than creating gourmet dishes from kosher foods)
10. it might appear from all the posts, that there is not in practice one single for-all-people fasting guideline (take the oil issue, for example; also, even though it is probably a Latin accretion, many Orthodox I know who do fast include fish with a backbone in their diet during Lent) - so consult your priest

If nothing else, this thread is helping me get "psyched" up to fast for Great Lent - so thanks to all

I still think SCOBA or some body of hierarchs should address the issue, not to change 2000 years of tradition, but to offer clarification and pastoral guidelines - from some of the posts, I can also see that there has been some confusion and even some hurt for some people
where a priest or other person perhaps hasn't taken the care to really listen to the concern and has dished out one pill for every ailment, so to speak
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« Reply #47 on: February 12, 2006, 01:40:50 PM »

thanks Nektarios
this whole thread has at least been enlightening
What I have learned is:
1. The strictest guidelines for fasting are such that only the most extreme ascetics can keep them
2. All are agreed on the abstinence from olive oil; different regions of Orthodoxy differ historically on the use of other oils
3. shell fish were once considered, if not objectionable, then at least part of the coastal poor's diet and not coveted by the wealthy
4. from what Nektarios wrote, it would be difficult for a male working out in the world to function on the strictest guidelines, let alone women and children, so check with your priest or spiritual father for what is right for you
5.¦nbsp; hard laboring monks even were given exceptions to the strict guidelines
6. people with medical conditions should consult their doctor AND their priest (eg. diabetics)
7. women should address iron deficiency issues with regard to fasting, consult with your physician
8 young children, pregnant women, the elderly and infirm should be given light fasting guidelines, if any at all
9. we should try to eat simply and try to eat less during lent ( rather than creating gourmet dishes from kosher foods)
10. it might appear from all the posts, that there is not in practice one single for-all-people fasting guideline (take the oil issue, for example; also, even though it is probably a Latin accretion, many Orthodox I know who do fast include fish with a backbone in their diet during Lent) - so consult your priest

If nothing else, this thread is helping me get "psyched" up to fast for Great Lent - so thanks to all

I still think SCOBA or some body of hierarchs should address the issue, not to change 2000 years of tradition, but to offer clarification and pastoral guidelines - from some of the posts, I can also see that there has been some confusion and even some hurt for some people
where a priest or other person perhaps hasn't taken the care to really listen to the concern and has dished out one pill for every ailment, so to speak

An excellent synopsis!
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« Reply #48 on: February 12, 2006, 01:44:21 PM »

BrotherAidan,

I agree with Cleveland. You have summarised the issues particularly well. Smiley

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« Reply #49 on: February 12, 2006, 07:25:34 PM »

Dear Bizzlebin ,

  Thanks for your citation from the Slavic Ustav.  Note however that it is the the Slavic Ustav not the Byzantine one.  As I noted earlier, the Slavic Orthodox Churches do not divide any oils and thus abstain from all oils. A similar translation of the Typica from the Byzantine (Greek/Antiochian) Churches will only say olive oil, His Grace Bishop Kallistos being of that jurisdiction would go with only olive oil as noted from his book quoted above. The Byzantine jurisdictions thus allow for sesame seed oils, other vegetable oils.

It is an example of  "T"radition with a little t, among the various practices of our Holy Orthodox Church.  They are not meant to be a point of disagreement but a sign of our cultural diversity in traditions.

=====

On another question  by another poster, and well addressed by Bizzlebin, was about calcium and iron for women and children. If I may add to Bizzlebin's response this addition--Of course there are now in our society many dietary additions that cover these needs---for example calcium fortified orange juice will provide needed calcium. Vegetable iron and calcium are also available in the leafy green vegetables (greens, spinach, collards, cabbage, broccoli, etc)  We can learn much from Vegan articles that address these issues in terms that we modern Americans can digest and learn from. Looking at the list and remembering the traditional fasting foods of  Greece, the Middle East, and Holy Russia, we will find that those hard working Orthodox mothers knew how to cook properly for the fast using these foods---may be we should look to their recipes for some of ideas on food that work towards proper nutrition for the fast.

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« Reply #50 on: February 13, 2006, 05:41:29 AM »

On the iron issue.  In college I took a nutrition class.  I'll never forget it, the professora said that cooking in an iron skillet is a source for you iron intake.  The iron gets incorporated into the food.  Far better than cooking with teflon, which can kill your pet birds if they get into the kitchen while a teflon skillet is being used.  Considering what teflon was developed for, I think I'll keep using my iron skillet... and getting something positive out of it.. part of my daily dose of iron.
Also, one must be very careful not to overdo any processed foods, foods that use high fructose corn syrup.. etc..  often quick fast and easy foods to make are highly refined and processed foods that aren't good for you.
I saw something that recommended porridge for breakfast.  You soak the porridge overnight in water with a tsp of lemon juice.  In the morning it takes a minute or two to cook the porridge and it is a non-processed pure food loaded with goodies!
There is a constant battle to eat right no matter if you are fasting or not.
We have access to food ad naseum in the USA, however it takes much effort to actually slash through the junk and be able to eat properly.
Ok, I'm off my soap box now.
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« Reply #51 on: February 13, 2006, 07:10:46 AM »

An indispensible item in a contemporary Orthodox Christian's kitchen is a crock-pot or "slow cooker".
I have two, and I use them with timer switches. During Great Lent, every evening I put 1 cup of rolled oats to 1 and a half cup of water for every 2 people with a pinch of salt in the crockpot, and set it to start cooing half an hour before we get up in the morning. In the morning you wake up to ready made extra creamy porridge. In the other crockpot, I place all the ingredients for a hearty vegetarian soup or casserole or curry and set it to start cooking at 2pm, so that everyone comes home in the evening to a home-cooked fasting soup or casserole or curry. Then after dinner it's simply a matter of washing the pots, refilling them and resetting them.
You'll find some great crockpot recipes here: http://southernfood.about.com/library/crock/blveg.htm
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« Reply #52 on: February 13, 2006, 11:17:55 AM »

BrotherAidan,

I agree 100% and am happy that we all have had a discussion and debate that went somewhere! It feels good after so many debates on this forum that went nowhere.

Anastasios
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« Reply #53 on: February 13, 2006, 03:10:08 PM »

I've appreciated so many of these responses and have learned from them.  I'm a fairly new convert and can definitely relate to the ongoing struggle to learn the fasting practice, to let both body and mind adjust so that the spiritual work can happen.
those hard working Orthodox mothers knew how to cook properly for the fast using these foods
I can attest to what you say here- the person who learns this as an outsider is at a disadvantage.  When living overseas, there were deprivations like water shortages and heat that hit us clueless foreigners much harder than the locals who had long before integrated ways of adapting into their lifestyle.
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« Reply #54 on: February 13, 2006, 04:57:27 PM »

Dear OzGeorge,

Thanks for that reminder about the use of Crock pots.  My family use them to great advantage due to working wonky hours like nite shift and such in the hospital (Both my wife and I work in the Healthcare profession).  I had never thought to set timers on them however.  Are those timers like  the Christmas Tree light timers?

In Christ,
Thomas
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« Reply #55 on: February 13, 2006, 08:54:03 PM »

Thomas, yes the Slavic <> Byzantine, but ever try to think why?  What makes sense to me is that oil = olive oil in the whole Mediterranean region.  There wasn't a concept of non-olive oil oil (intentional double oil).
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« Reply #56 on: February 13, 2006, 10:09:19 PM »

Actually there was and is. Sesame seed oil was and is popular in the byzantine empire and the middle east. It was considered a secondary oil as its taste is quite strong by comparison to olive oil. Now think about it both hummus using sesame seed oil and tahini (sesame seed oil with nut like butter) are found prominently in Greek, byzantine, and middle eastern cuisine during Great Lent and found even in monastery cooking during Great Lent on Mount Athos. It was olive oil they intended to forbid on weekdays in Great Lent---remember they allow Olive Oil on Weekends. The Slavs who did not use Olive oil primarily, simply expanded their Ustave to cover all oils, including sesame seed and other nut oils that can be found in Slavic traditional cooking. The Slavs also allow oil on weekends.

Both traditions of course allow oil on days when wine is allowed during the weekday.
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« Reply #57 on: February 14, 2006, 05:35:43 PM »

The Slavs who did not use Olive oil primarily, simply expanded their Ustave to cover all oils, including sesame seed and other nut oils that can be found in Slavic traditional cooking.

This is a point I was trying to make. The customs varied based on what oils where primarily used. Here in America, where just about every oil is used in practice, it seems best to follow in the spirit of the Russian tradition, which was made for exactly this type of situation.
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