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Author Topic: Fasting as a Family  (Read 2300 times) Average Rating: 0
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QuoVadis
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« on: March 01, 2006, 07:58:43 PM »

I know this is underneath the Orthodox Family Forum and mainly for parents and their children, but I write and question from a young person's point of view (although I'm 29 - I still live at home at the moment).  

Although brought up in a Russian / Australian family, I was brought up in the Protestant Church, so am only a new convert to Russian Orthodoxy (3 years ago).  My family are not practising Christian Orthodox, so therefore do not participate in Lent, and also think it's very foolish.  I on the other hand very much want to participate in Lent and think it's important personally.  How does one manage?  Is it wrong of me to go against my parent's wishes to not observe Lent?  Should I be obedient to them and simply eat my meals in silence, that my Mum has prepared, and fast in other ways?  Or should I go ahead and make my own meals (like I did last year) and sit at the same table with my family while they eat their meals?

Any thoughts?
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Fr. David
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« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2006, 10:27:15 AM »

Lots of the Fathers ate non-fasting stuff that was served them, so as not to offend.

My general rule is this: if someone prepares food FOR YOU, eat it.  Usually, they're not aware of what Lent entails for you, and they're just being hospitable.

What's more, if in your case (and I somehow doubt this is the case) some in your family who think Lent is foolish are preparing non-lenten meals for you so as to give you occasion to break the fast, eat anyway, imo.  You can fast during all the meals you buy or prepare yourself and eat apart from family, plus any other stuff you and your spiritual father might decide on.  Family relations are so sensitive that it'd probably be better just to acknowledge that your family does not make or break the reality of Lent and the Church in your life, and that you can still witness with your kind and grateful hospitality.
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« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2006, 11:41:51 AM »

Quote
Lots of the Fathers ate non-fasting stuff that was served them, so as not to offend.

Do you have specific references to support this? I remember asserting that very same general point a while ago, but I couldn't locate the relevant sources.
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« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2006, 12:33:41 PM »

Pedro has an excellent point, and is one that I also implement.

It is important to recognize that there are meals you are responsible for, and meals that you cannot order or make. If someone makes a non-Lenten meal for me this time of year, to not damage the relationship between myself and the person I will eat it (but not gorge myself either). Our faith is relationship-oriented, and one of the goals of fasting is to increase in our love for each other and God. Our fasting discipline is intended to help us avoid these worldly distractions that interfere in our relationships, not become one more obstacle--we have enough already.

However, just because a friend prepared a non-Lenten meal for you doesn't mean that once you broke the Fast you may as well give up for the rest of Great Lent (we all know people who think that way...). Get back on that horse, whether you dismounted for a friend or fell off due to a lack of discipline!
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QuoVadis
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« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2006, 07:13:58 PM »

Thank you so much for your answers everyone. ÂÂ It has put peace in my heart somewhat, as last year and the year before, I was always up in arms as to what to do ... and how to appease and also not offend my family. ÂÂ Thank you.  Glory to God!
« Last Edit: March 02, 2006, 07:14:10 PM by QuoVadis » Logged

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Thomas
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« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2006, 02:31:47 AM »

A simple compromise is to eat the fasting food placed in front of you and if possible none of the non-fasting foods. You may try your hand at a nice vegetarian casserole that you can share with your family and eat it in place of the meat entre.  Another option is to eat a good helping of the fasting foods and a very small serving of the non-fasting foods. If you know how to cook offer to make a meal for the family that is fasting---the use of shell fish may help them to feel they have a real meal.

As a side comment, My non-orthodox mother  (she did convert before she died) lived with us for many years, we fed her what we ate but always provided a  piece of broiled fish or chicken as she was not Orthodox gradually she began to follow our fasting meals and actually stopped eating the fish and chicken ---she converted about 3 months later and reposed 3 months after that. Example is a powerful thing to non-orthodox family members.

goodluck,
Thomas
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Fr. David
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« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2006, 05:15:08 PM »

Do you have specific references to support this? I remember asserting that very same general point a while ago, but I couldn't locate the relevant sources.

Desert Fathers, but no, I don't have any specific quotes, sorry...
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« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2006, 06:04:26 PM »

FWIW this
Quote
(although I'm 29 - I still live at home at the moment)
 might be the source of problems, not so much the fasting issue.  
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QuoVadis
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« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2006, 07:59:41 PM »

[quote author=Νεκτάριος link=topic=8334.msg109963#msg109963 date=1141423466]
FWIW this ÂÂ  might be the source of problems, not so much the fasting issue. ÂÂ
[/quote]

Could be ... depends on who you ask?!  Besides, if it be God's will, this may be the last year that I live at home anyway.  I'm hoping to join a monastery at some point.
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« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2006, 11:01:57 PM »

Desert Fathers, but no, I don't have any specific quotes, sorry...

I found the relevant relevant quotes, if anyone is interested:

•   Once two brothers came to a certain old man. It  was  his custom not  to eat every day but when he saw them he received them joyfully and said, "A fast has its own reward, but he who eats for the sake of love fulfils two commandments: he leaves his own will and he refreshes his brothers."

•   It was said of  an old man that he dwelt in Syria on the  way to  the desert. This was his work: whenever a monk came from the desert, he gave him refreshment with all his heart. Now  one day a  hermit came and he offered him refreshment. The other did not want to accept it, saying he was fasting. Filled with sorrow, the old man  said to him, "Do not despise your servant, I beg you, do not despise me, but let us pray together. Look at the tree which is here; we will follow the way of whichever of us causes it to bend when he kneels on the ground and prays." So the hermit knelt down to pray and nothing happened. Then the hospitable one knelt  down and at once the tree bent towards him. Taught by this, they gave thanks to God.

•   We came from Palestine to Egypt and went to see one of the fathers. He offered us hospitality and we said, "Why  do you not keep the  fast when visitors come to see you? In Palestine they keep it." He replied, "Fasting is always with me but I cannot always have  you here. It  is useful and  necessary to fast but we choose whether we will  fast or not. What God commands  is perfect  love. I receive Christ in you and so  I must do everything possible  to serve you with love. When I have  sent you on your way, then I can continue my rule of fasting. The  sons of the bridegroom cannot  fast while the bridegroom is with them; when he is taken away from them, then they will fast."

Source: http://www.coptic.net/articles/ParadiseOfDesertFathers.txt
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« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2006, 08:22:25 AM »

[quote author=Νεκτάριος link=topic=8334.msg109963#msg109963 date=1141423466]
FWIW this ÂÂ  might be the source of problems, not so much the fasting issue. ÂÂ
[/quote]

Don't throw sand, Nektarios.
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« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2006, 04:36:14 PM »

Quote
Don't throw sand, Nektarios.

It's not throwing sand, it is pointing out the obvious.  It is at worth exploring the option that just maybe Orthodoxy and Orthopraxis aren't at the root of problems.  
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