Monday, January 21, 2008

Fastenzeit is Near

The Lenten fasting season begins in just over two weeks, and I am looking forward to it.

Two years ago the vicar and I presented the congregation with the basics of the traditional Western Rite fast. Previously this congregation was used to the idea of "giving up" something for Lent, but wasn't too aware of the practice of giving up food for Lent. Vicar presented what my friend Fr. Fenton gave for his (then) congregation in Detroit. It was a surprise to many. The next year I worked up a leaflet for the congregation which gives not only the fasting guideline, but also gives some background from Scripture and the Confessions, along with a FAQ and resources published by the LCMS. I heard more of a response last year, no doubt due to my Vicar's excellent groundwork laid the year before.

I'm providing a link here for the leaflet. Feel free to use it as you wish. If your pastor doesn't address the Lenten fast much, feel free to share it with him. For purists, please note that I've modified the fast for the sake of this congregation. I eliminated the Ember Days and Advent Fast (don't hit me!), and made some decisions about seafood and cheese which some may quibble with. The Ember Days and Advent Fast may show up in the 2nd Edition, but we're taking baby steps here.


  1. Doorman-Priest said...

    I think lent should start as soon as the Feast of the Epiphany is over. We need to change Church law to recognise the orgy of self-indulgence over Christmas.

  2. -C said...

    I recently heard a tape recording of one of my priest's old sermons - it was a sermon delivered to his parish before I was in it, and in fact, before I myself became an Orthodox Christian

    One thing I noted in his comments regarding the then-upcoming fast, was that he said, "You know the standard, now take some time and decide just what your level of participation will be - how it is that you will fast. Pray about it, plan it, and then try to be faithful to what you have set out to do."
    He was careful to note that those who do not live in monastic settings, or who have family members who are not Orthodox, or with extenuating circumstances are sometimes not able to keep the fast strictly. But what was important, it sounded like, was that each make a decision - a prayerful decision about how they would fast that Lent. And that each person use Lent, and the discipline of fasting, for spiritual growth.

    It sounded so surprisingly gracious to me - and made good sense, I thought.


  3. Christopher D. Hall said...

    This year it almost is, Doorman! Of course, if one kept the Advent Fast...oh well. :)

    -C, that sounds like a lovingly pastoral approach, and given the difficulty of the Eastern Rite fasting discipline and our standard diet in the West (much different than a standard Mediterranean diet), almost necessary, I'd imagine.

  4. -C said...

    Well, he is a lovingly pastoral sort of priest!