Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dormition fast

Today starts the fast preparing Orthodox Christians for the Dormition of the Mother of God.

dormition.jpgThis fast is not long, but it is quite strict. Fish is only allowed on the Great Feast of the Transfiguration (this year, Tuesday 19th August), and wine and oil are only allowed on Saturdays and Sundays, until the 28th of August, the Dormition of the Most-Holy Mother of God.
Fasting is indispensable for Orthodox Christians. The Holy Church teaches that since Adam’s fall, body and soul in man are disordered. Man has become fleshly, and cannot sense or understand spiritual reality as intended by the Creator. But the Church provides us with a path towards God!

Fasting I call the eating of a little bit once a day. Getting up from the table when one is still hungry, having his food, bread, and salt, and his drink-water, which the springs themselves bring forth. Behold the royal way of receiving food; that is, many have been saved by this path, so the Holy Fathers have said.
St Paisius Velichkovsky, 18th Cent.

bosch_gluttony.jpegThe Church prescribes us a simple medicine to remedy the imbalance of our fallen nature, and bring us closer to God again: fasting. If we are willing to fast for the sake of our bodies (i.e. diet), then we should be much more willing to do this for our soul! This is why Orthodox Christians abstain from meat, fish, and even oil during the fast. They also keep themselves carefully from every sin and bad habit, any excesses and entertainment. It is not unheard of that married couples abstain from sexual relations, and many families turn off the television completely in these two weeks. Most importantly: More time and attention is devoted to prayer in church and in the home.

One of the most important [reasons for fasting is]: self–control. Every day we are inundated with thousands of messages, either visual or audible or both, which beckon, cajole, or beguile us to indulge ourselves in one form of excess or another. Statistical research has shown that we listen to these messages and act upon them. The average twentieth–century American enjoys a standard of living which was once reserved to high–placed aristocracy. In the heat of August, even a hundred servants with hand–held fans could not do for Louis XIV what a simple room air conditioner does for a retired widow in a small apartment in our time. What would Julius Cæsar have given for a chariot capable of traveling over sixty miles per hour, which could cover hundreds of miles in a single day? The luxury and comfort we enjoy tends to smother spiritual life even as the thorns choked out the seed in our Lord’s parable. Thus, to train ourselves in denial and self–control, to learn the art of gracefully declining a simple piece of cheese on an inappropriate day, is one of the more valuable lessons the Church can offer us.
A Guide to Orthodox Life, by Father David and Presbytera Julianna Cownie


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