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Does fasting simplify matters?

FatherHLL

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I was asked a question that deserves some consideration and answering.  The question ran a little like this:

Part of the original purpose of the fast was to simplify our life during this time period to devote more time to other things and more money to give charitably.  However, the person who asked the question found that this isn't so:  they spend more time cooking and shopping for food and more on the food itself. 

My answer is this.  It is true that we in our modern day don't have quite as many "benefits" in the fast for the simplicity of life as did most Orthodox Christians throughout the centuries.  For example:  In days gone by, it was a true 'break' for them to have additional time to devote for spiritual matters--For 50 days they got a real break, a break from having to take time to slaughter cows or lambs, a break from taking time churning butter or making cheese, or even from cooking, as through the midweek more raw foods would be eaten:  you simply went out back, picked the vegetables (or took preserved ones from the jar) and ate simple meals. 
    Although we don't have some of the former, and we have to go to the store and chew up a lot more time, why do we think we have to cook all the time and make tasty fasting meals, especially in the midweek.  Why not more raw foods?  It is certainly healthier for us.  I still think that carrots and celery and raw peppers etc. are cheaper than steak, chicken etc plus side dishes.  Now it may not be as much time and money saved to do more prosperous spiritual work as the generations gone by, but I still think it is time and money saved, especially if we are doing it right. 
 

quietmorning

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From what I've witnessed and participated in:  The fast can be as difficult or as complicated as you want it to be.  Some make a new menu each week and have something different to eat every day.  Some make a big pot of something (I do this.) and eat it every day for the duration of the fast.  It's important to me for my fasting to make my life simple - so I wanted to keep it very simple and something that I don't have to think about.  I take a frozen tub out of the freezer once every three days and heat it up per bowlful.  That's it. 

For me, there is one grocery trip for dried beans, rice and veggies. . .and I don't go back unless I'm accompanying my hubby for his stuff for the duration of lent.  It gives me the opportunity to serve my husband in really listening to him. 

Now with this being said, I'm not fasting with a family.  My husband is not Orthodox - so he does not fast.  My children are grown.  I would think that fasting in a family setting would be very different from what I've described above -though my sponsor was raised in Greece and they as a family did the same thing I mentioned above.  It was not complicated and children ate what they were given and learned that discipline from birth. 

I wonder how much cultural expectation has to do with the complexity of the fast.  I know I live in the Bible Belt in the US and many of our members (myself included) are surrounded with family that are not Orthodox, but Protestant and do not fast at all. . .adding for another complication. 

 

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Here it is relatively simple and cheap.  We eat mostly soup, chinese vegetables on rice, ramen, peanut butter sandwich, or pita with hummus for dinner.  Nothing fancy or time consuming.
 

LizaSymonenko

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Bless, Father!

I agree with you wholeheartedly!  Raw is best, but, even cooking the simple veggies is much less time consuming than preparing a whole fancy meal.

I cooked a vegetable soup for my mother, which will last her for days, while I have been munching on apples and nuts at work.

When I get home I don't have to do the whole cooking and cleaning routine...and it truly does save a lot of time.

Another big time "saver" is no TV!  Not even the NEWS.  I have found that I do have more time on my hands and the house is overall more peaceful. 

I've actually found myself going to sleep much earlier, because I can. 

I also find that it is "cheaper", at least, where I am.  I have a local grocer where I can pick up a few veggies, nuts, fruits, etc. at a good price.  Buying and cooking your own food is much cheaper than purchasing prepackaged, preprocessed meals.

I also made points with my coworkers when I came in on Monday with eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt and cheesecake for them!  I couldn't bare to throw the food out.    :)


 

jah777

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FatherHLL said:
but I still think it is time and money saved, especially if we are doing it right.  
I agree with you, Father.  If someone is expressing this complaint, the problem is not the Fast but their attachment to, and obsession with, food at a time when one should be giving little attention to food in general.  I think that if one is actually abstaining from oil (all oil), it is much easier to eat simply during the fast.  But in addition to eating Fasting foods, we should also be cutting back our intake in general so that we feel a bit of hunger, so that we have to struggle a bit, so that we learn the value of praying on an empty stomach, and the value of giving the soul priority over the body.  St. Gregory Palamas, in one of his homilies, said to the faithful (not to monastics) that during the Fast only one meal per day was to be taken, and that in the evening.  He stated that this rule is moderate enough that people from all walks of life should have to problem keeping this.  It certainly is moderate compared to the fast which our Lord passed in the desert as an example for us.  Unfortunately, it is the case today that instead of eating one meal a day consisting of fruit, bread, vegetables, nuts, beans, and other simple fare, either raw or in simple form (soup or salad); people rather spend the Fast looking up and preparing complicated gourmet vegan recipes, eating 3 meals a day plus snacks, spending hours looking at every box of prepackaged cookies and snacks to figure out which ones are made without oil or dairy, spending a ton of money on meat substitutes and expensive spices that could instead be given to the poor, etc.  This is not how the Fast should be kept, and it would be wrong for a person to blame the Fast for the fact that they have continued to practice self indulgence and obsession over food at a time when we should be giving ourselves more to prayer, spiritual reading, alms giving and struggle against our passions.  

St. John Cassian speaks of three forms of gluttony – 1) eating to excess, 2) eating outside of the times designated for meals, and 3) eating fancy foods or those which merely please the palate.  It seems to me that we can very easily keep the letter of the law regarding the Fast (no meat or dairy and no wine or oil on most days), while spending the entire Fast in gluttony.    
 

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Speaking as one who has to work in heavy industry, fasting greatly complicates matters.  There are no Orthodox in my plant, so the cafeterias are not set up for fasting.  They are set up for what most industrial workers want to eat, and that is not nuts and berries.  The work days are long with periods of rotating shifts.  In fact, my "fast" coming up soon will consist of seven day work weeks on evening shift for at least 40 days.  Since food is provided for us here, I am not used to carrying a lunch in (have not had to do so in 20 years).  Not eating is simply not an option since we have to maintain mental alertness, and I am diabetic and cannot miss meals.  There will be little opportunity to attend the various extra services, and I am greatfull that I will be on evening shift so that I can at least make Liturgy on Sundays.  Sorry, but fasting for me is not the teary eyed spiritual high that some people talk about.  It is a pain in the butt that has to be endured if I want to commune in my current Church during the next 40 days.  For me, it is strictly a matter of obedience and nothing more.    
 

LizaSymonenko

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Punch, you have extenuating circumstances.

Might you not speak with your priest and work something out where you can eat what is offered at work, but, offer up something else?  It's sad that you are not getting any spiritual benefit from Lent, but, simply an added hardship which seems to be leaving you feeling anything but peaceful.
 

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LizaSymonenko said:
Punch, you have extenuating circumstances.

Might you not speak with your priest and work something out where you can eat what is offered at work, but, offer up something else?  It's sad that you are not getting any spiritual benefit from Lent, but, simply an added hardship which seems to be leaving you feeling anything but peaceful.
Very good point. From Cheese Fare Sunday Evening (Forgiveness Vespers): "Let us begin the season of fasting with rejoicing, giving ourselves to spiritual strife, purifying soul and body, fasting from passions, as we fast from foods, faring on the virtues of the Spirit, which, if we continue to long for, we shall all be worthy to behold the most solemn Passion of Christ, and the holy passover, rejoicing with spiritual joy."

While Lent is clearly intended to be a time of sombre reflection, it should not be dreaded as a hardship. A difficult journey, perhaps, but with a goal of joy and great benefit.
 

J Michael

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I'm aware of the reasons for fasting, and the various methods and forms and "requirements".  To focus so much attention on what we eat or what we do not eat, I think, misses the point somewhat.  My understanding, as taught to me by virtually all the priests I've had, is that we are to fast from *sin*, and to the extent we do that, fasting from this substance or that becomes almost irrelevant, except perhaps as regards obedience to Church "rules" or one's spiritual father.

Just my 1.5 cent's worth  :) 
 

podkarpatska

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J Michael said:
I'm aware of the reasons for fasting, and the various methods and forms and "requirements".  To focus so much attention on what we eat or what we do not eat, I think, misses the point somewhat.  My understanding, as taught to me by virtually all the priests I've had, is that we are to fast from *sin*, and to the extent we do that, fasting from this substance or that becomes almost irrelevant, except perhaps as regards obedience to Church "rules" or one's spiritual father.

Just my 1.5 cent's worth  :) 
I agree, that's what I have been taught although 'irrelevant' is probably too harsh of a term to use.
 

yeshuaisiam

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You do have a great point. 

In my home, it is incredibly more complicated to fast.  The meal prep is a lot more than if we just cooked with meat and oil.

However what we do before we pray for the meal is sit and talk a moment about lent, and why it is important that we stray from the normal course of meals.  We also recognize each ingredient in our food as a blessing from God, even though we don't deserve it after what our sins did to him.

 

PeterTheAleut

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LizaSymonenko said:
Punch, you have extenuating circumstances.

Might you not speak with your priest and work something out where you can eat what is offered at work, but, offer up something else?  It's sad that you are not getting any spiritual benefit from Lent, but, simply an added hardship which seems to be leaving you feeling anything but peaceful.
I'm curious to know where you read the above in Punch's post.

1.  The spiritual practices of Lent are not intended to give us a "teary-eyed spiritual high". They're intended to lead us to repentance. If we are led to repent of our sins, we have received the ultimate spiritual benefit of Lent.

2.  It's possible to experience peace through those experiences we call a "pain in the butt". Maybe these "pain in the butt" experiences can even lead us to know peace.
 

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I understand your point but I kind of like all the effort. Instead of thinking what do I want? what sounds good? my focus turns to God. My meals turn into an offering and remind me of the sacrifice I must make daily for Christ. It makes sense that it made things simpler back then, but now that the world has changed perhaps the fruits of fasting have changed.
Plus I think overeating is a very basic passion/sin that fuels many other things and fasting helps us combat it. I listened to a talk by Constantine Zalalas who says that eating gives our flesh fuel to sin. That dreams and even nocturnal emissions are a result of overeating and giving our bodily flesh too much. Too me the hunger and sacrifice are more a part of the fast than saving money or being simple.
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
LizaSymonenko said:
Punch, you have extenuating circumstances.

Might you not speak with your priest and work something out where you can eat what is offered at work, but, offer up something else?  It's sad that you are not getting any spiritual benefit from Lent, but, simply an added hardship which seems to be leaving you feeling anything but peaceful.
I'm curious to know where you read the above in Punch's post.

1.  The spiritual practices of Lent are not intended to give us a "teary-eyed spiritual high". They're intended to lead us to repentance. If we are led to repent of our sins, we have received the ultimate spiritual benefit of Lent.

2.  It's possible to experience peace through those experiences we call a "pain in the butt". Maybe these "pain in the butt" experiences can even lead us to know peace.
Your body and the demons will fight you. They want you to focus on the hardship and not think you're getting anything so you give up. But if you persevere and be obedient, God will bless you. Hardship and suffering help humble us to repentance.
 

quietmorning

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CBGardner said:
PeterTheAleut said:
LizaSymonenko said:
Punch, you have extenuating circumstances.

Might you not speak with your priest and work something out where you can eat what is offered at work, but, offer up something else?  It's sad that you are not getting any spiritual benefit from Lent, but, simply an added hardship which seems to be leaving you feeling anything but peaceful.
I'm curious to know where you read the above in Punch's post.

1.  The spiritual practices of Lent are not intended to give us a "teary-eyed spiritual high". They're intended to lead us to repentance. If we are led to repent of our sins, we have received the ultimate spiritual benefit of Lent.

2.  It's possible to experience peace through those experiences we call a "pain in the butt". Maybe these "pain in the butt" experiences can even lead us to know peace.
Your body and the demons will fight you. They want you to focus on the hardship and not think you're getting anything so you give up. But if you persevere and be obedient, God will bless you. Hardship and suffering help humble us to repentance.
CBGardner, I so needed to hear this today, thank you.  
 

CBGardner

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quietmorning said:
CBGardner said:
PeterTheAleut said:
LizaSymonenko said:
Punch, you have extenuating circumstances.

Might you not speak with your priest and work something out where you can eat what is offered at work, but, offer up something else?  It's sad that you are not getting any spiritual benefit from Lent, but, simply an added hardship which seems to be leaving you feeling anything but peaceful.
I'm curious to know where you read the above in Punch's post.

1.  The spiritual practices of Lent are not intended to give us a "teary-eyed spiritual high". They're intended to lead us to repentance. If we are led to repent of our sins, we have received the ultimate spiritual benefit of Lent.

2.  It's possible to experience peace through those experiences we call a "pain in the butt". Maybe these "pain in the butt" experiences can even lead us to know peace.
Your body and the demons will fight you. They want you to focus on the hardship and not think you're getting anything so you give up. But if you persevere and be obedient, God will bless you. Hardship and suffering help humble us to repentance.
CBGardner, I so needed to hear this today, thank you.  
Glory to our faithful God!
 

ialmisry

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Punch said:
I am diabetic and cannot miss meals.  
Having to deal with several diabetic seizures and comas in my family, I'd say you shouldn't even be attempting to fast, let alone in the work situation you describe.  Fasting is to kill the flesh, not the body.
 

yeshuaisiam

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ialmisry said:
Punch said:
I am diabetic and cannot miss meals.  
Having to deal with several diabetic seizures and comas in my family, I'd say you shouldn't even be attempting to fast, let alone in the work situation you describe.  Fasting is to kill the flesh, not the body.
I have very bad hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).  I've actually passed out from my condition before.  I find that if I eat a mostly raw diet 80% or so of fruits and veggies, it always stays in check.  I will admit though any "funky" feelings and I immediately check my sugar.
 

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ialmisry said:
Punch said:
I am diabetic and cannot miss meals.  
Having to deal with several diabetic seizures and comas in my family, I'd say you shouldn't even be attempting to fast, let alone in the work situation you describe.  Fasting is to kill the flesh, not the body.
Various health issues impose their own kind of "fast," which does the same or more than the fast from foods which healthy people undertake.
 

katherineofdixie

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ialmisry said:
Punch said:
I am diabetic and cannot miss meals.  
Having to deal with several diabetic seizures and comas in my family, I'd say you shouldn't even be attempting to fast, let alone in the work situation you describe.  Fasting is to kill the flesh, not the body.
If you are diabetic, or preparing meals for one, fasting does indeed complicate matters. My husband, an insulin-dependent diabetic, can't miss meals, either. In fact, he must eat before taking certain medications, which is why Father told him to eat something before Liturgy on Sunday. Also diet with much bread, rice, or potatoes is not good for him either, which a lot of fasting dishes contain.  Nor can he survive and be healthy eating only fruit and nuts every day.
 

LizaSymonenko

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PeterTheAleut said:
LizaSymonenko said:
Punch, you have extenuating circumstances.

Might you not speak with your priest and work something out where you can eat what is offered at work, but, offer up something else?  It's sad that you are not getting any spiritual benefit from Lent, but, simply an added hardship which seems to be leaving you feeling anything but peaceful.
I'm curious to know where you read the above in Punch's post.

1.  The spiritual practices of Lent are not intended to give us a "teary-eyed spiritual high". They're intended to lead us to repentance. If we are led to repent of our sins, we have received the ultimate spiritual benefit of Lent.

2.  It's possible to experience peace through those experiences we call a "pain in the butt". Maybe these "pain in the butt" experiences can even lead us to know peace.

Well, when he says things like:

Punch said:
As to increasing my prayer life during the fast, I do.  I pray daily for the blasted fast to end so I can think of other things than food.
...he hardly sounds like he's reaping much benefit from the fast, nor does he sound peaceful.


 

CBGardner

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LizaSymonenko said:
PeterTheAleut said:
LizaSymonenko said:
Punch, you have extenuating circumstances.

Might you not speak with your priest and work something out where you can eat what is offered at work, but, offer up something else?  It's sad that you are not getting any spiritual benefit from Lent, but, simply an added hardship which seems to be leaving you feeling anything but peaceful.
I'm curious to know where you read the above in Punch's post.

1.  The spiritual practices of Lent are not intended to give us a "teary-eyed spiritual high". They're intended to lead us to repentance. If we are led to repent of our sins, we have received the ultimate spiritual benefit of Lent.

2.  It's possible to experience peace through those experiences we call a "pain in the butt". Maybe these "pain in the butt" experiences can even lead us to know peace.

Well, when he says things like:

Punch said:
As to increasing my prayer life during the fast, I do.  I pray daily for the blasted fast to end so I can think of other things than food.
...he hardly sounds like he's reaping much benefit from the fast, nor does he sound peaceful.
Peace comes after suffering. You must plant the seed and work the soil before a plant grows. You must kill the animal and spill its blood to offer it to God (OT but the allegory works).
 

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LizaSymonenko said:
PeterTheAleut said:
LizaSymonenko said:
Punch, you have extenuating circumstances.

Might you not speak with your priest and work something out where you can eat what is offered at work, but, offer up something else?  It's sad that you are not getting any spiritual benefit from Lent, but, simply an added hardship which seems to be leaving you feeling anything but peaceful.
I'm curious to know where you read the above in Punch's post.

1.  The spiritual practices of Lent are not intended to give us a "teary-eyed spiritual high". They're intended to lead us to repentance. If we are led to repent of our sins, we have received the ultimate spiritual benefit of Lent.

2.  It's possible to experience peace through those experiences we call a "pain in the butt". Maybe these "pain in the butt" experiences can even lead us to know peace.

Well, when he says things like:

Punch said:
As to increasing my prayer life during the fast, I do.  I pray daily for the blasted fast to end so I can think of other things than food.
...he hardly sounds like he's reaping much benefit from the fast, nor does he sound peaceful.
Yes, but sounds can be deceiving, especially when they're typed. ;)
 

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quietmorning said:
From what I've witnessed and participated in:  The fast can be as difficult or as complicated as you want it to be.  Some make a new menu each week and have something different to eat every day.  Some make a big pot of something (I do this.) and eat it every day for the duration of the fast.  It's important to me for my fasting to make my life simple - so I wanted to keep it very simple and something that I don't have to think about.  I take a frozen tub out of the freezer once every three days and heat it up per bowlful.  That's it. 

For me, there is one grocery trip for dried beans, rice and veggies. . .and I don't go back unless I'm accompanying my hubby for his stuff for the duration of lent.  It gives me the opportunity to serve my husband in really listening to him. 

Now with this being said, I'm not fasting with a family.  My husband is not Orthodox - so he does not fast.  My children are grown.  I would think that fasting in a family setting would be very different from what I've described above -though my sponsor was raised in Greece and they as a family did the same thing I mentioned above.  It was not complicated and children ate what they were given and learned that discipline from birth. 

I wonder how much cultural expectation has to do with the complexity of the fast.  I know I live in the Bible Belt in the US and many of our members (myself included) are surrounded with family that are not Orthodox, but Protestant and do not fast at all. . .adding for another complication. 
quietmorning, your simplistic fasting process appeals to me. Could you go into a bit more detail about what/how you prepare your lenten diet? Is that really all you eat?
 

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yeshuaisiam said:
ialmisry said:
Punch said:
I am diabetic and cannot miss meals.  
Having to deal with several diabetic seizures and comas in my family, I'd say you shouldn't even be attempting to fast, let alone in the work situation you describe.  Fasting is to kill the flesh, not the body.
I have very bad hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).  I've actually passed out from my condition before.  I find that if I eat a mostly raw diet 80% or so of fruits and veggies, it always stays in check.  I will admit though any "funky" feelings and I immediately check my sugar.
hmm i can relate with your condition. I will try to modify my diet a bit to emphasize more fruits and veggies.
 

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CBGardner said:
I understand your point but I kind of like all the effort. Instead of thinking what do I want? what sounds good? my focus turns to God. My meals turn into an offering and remind me of the sacrifice I must make daily for Christ. It makes sense that it made things simpler back then, but now that the world has changed perhaps the fruits of fasting have changed.
Plus I think overeating is a very basic passion/sin that fuels many other things and fasting helps us combat it. I listened to a talk by Constantine Zalalas who says that eating gives our flesh fuel to sin. That dreams and even nocturnal emissions are a result of overeating and giving our bodily flesh too much. Too me the hunger and sacrifice are more a part of the fast than saving money or being simple.
you offer some helpful points here, thanks.
 

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podkarpatska said:
J Michael said:
I'm aware of the reasons for fasting, and the various methods and forms and "requirements".  To focus so much attention on what we eat or what we do not eat, I think, misses the point somewhat.  My understanding, as taught to me by virtually all the priests I've had, is that we are to fast from *sin*, and to the extent we do that, fasting from this substance or that becomes almost irrelevant, except perhaps as regards obedience to Church "rules" or one's spiritual father.

Just my 1.5 cent's worth  :) 
I agree, that's what I have been taught although 'irrelevant' is probably too harsh of a term to use.
I did qualify "irrelevant" with "almost".  However, if we do manage to fast from sin, to *not* sin (which I'm told *is* possible  ??? ;D), then what we do or do not eat really does become irrelevant, does it not?
 

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I don't know.  I read it the way Liza did.  I also agree with Liza's recommendation.  Go to the priest and figure out a dispensational plan.  I may be wrong, and Punch can correct me if I am, but it seems that part of the problem for many is they feel "guilty" when they have to dispense with the fast under these circumstances, or they feel that they are falling short.  Again, I think it was Isa who stated we are trying to subdue the flesh, but not the body.  If the body is being harmed, the fast is not applicable.   


PeterTheAleut said:
LizaSymonenko said:
PeterTheAleut said:
LizaSymonenko said:
Punch, you have extenuating circumstances.

Might you not speak with your priest and work something out where you can eat what is offered at work, but, offer up something else?  It's sad that you are not getting any spiritual benefit from Lent, but, simply an added hardship which seems to be leaving you feeling anything but peaceful.
I'm curious to know where you read the above in Punch's post.

1.  The spiritual practices of Lent are not intended to give us a "teary-eyed spiritual high". They're intended to lead us to repentance. If we are led to repent of our sins, we have received the ultimate spiritual benefit of Lent.

2.  It's possible to experience peace through those experiences we call a "pain in the butt". Maybe these "pain in the butt" experiences can even lead us to know peace.

Well, when he says things like:

Punch said:
As to increasing my prayer life during the fast, I do.  I pray daily for the blasted fast to end so I can think of other things than food.
...he hardly sounds like he's reaping much benefit from the fast, nor does he sound peaceful.
Yes, but sounds can be deceiving, especially when they're typed. ;)
 

FatherHLL

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Diabetes, pregnancy, etc.:

"Fasting was devised in order to humble the body. If, therefore, the body is already in a state of humbleness and illness or weakness, the person ought to partake of as much as he or she may wish and be able to get along with food and drink."  (St. Timothy Canon 8 )

And, St. Timothy Canon 10:  "Question: If anyone is ill and emaciated very much as a result of long illness, and he comes to holy Easter, ought he to fast without fail, or may the Clergyman release him and let him take any food he can, or even olive oil and wine, on account of his severe illness!
Answer: The sick person ought to be released and to be allowed to partake of food and drink so far as he is able to do so."



Fixed the automatic smiley bug in the above...  Without a space in between, "8 )" becomes "8)".  -PtA
 

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^"Canon sunglasses" is canon 8.  The 8 with the parenthases apparently made an emoticon. 
 

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J Michael said:
podkarpatska said:
J Michael said:
I'm aware of the reasons for fasting, and the various methods and forms and "requirements".  To focus so much attention on what we eat or what we do not eat, I think, misses the point somewhat.  My understanding, as taught to me by virtually all the priests I've had, is that we are to fast from *sin*, and to the extent we do that, fasting from this substance or that becomes almost irrelevant, except perhaps as regards obedience to Church "rules" or one's spiritual father.

Just my 1.5 cent's worth  :) 
I agree, that's what I have been taught although 'irrelevant' is probably too harsh of a term to use.
I did qualify "irrelevant" with "almost".  However, if we do manage to fast from sin, to *not* sin (which I'm told *is* possible  ??? ;D), then what we do or do not eat really does become irrelevant, does it not?
fasting from food helps us fast from sin.
 

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Fasting not only helps us fast from sin, it is de facto fasting from the particular sins of gluttony and drunkenness, and exercising the virtues of temperence, moderation and sobriety. 

Ortho_cat said:
J Michael said:
podkarpatska said:
J Michael said:
I'm aware of the reasons for fasting, and the various methods and forms and "requirements".  To focus so much attention on what we eat or what we do not eat, I think, misses the point somewhat.  My understanding, as taught to me by virtually all the priests I've had, is that we are to fast from *sin*, and to the extent we do that, fasting from this substance or that becomes almost irrelevant, except perhaps as regards obedience to Church "rules" or one's spiritual father.

Just my 1.5 cent's worth  :) 
I agree, that's what I have been taught although 'irrelevant' is probably too harsh of a term to use.
I did qualify "irrelevant" with "almost".  However, if we do manage to fast from sin, to *not* sin (which I'm told *is* possible  ??? ;D), then what we do or do not eat really does become irrelevant, does it not?
fasting from food helps us fast from sin.
 

Punch

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Actually, Father, what I feel guilty about is that I feel absolutely no guilt whatsoever for breaking the fast.  I am a firm believer that what goes in the mouth does not defile us, but rather what comes out (I think that is in the Bible somewhere).  I have no objection to increasing alms, nor do I mind attending more services.  In fact, attending addional services is an additional expense given the distance from my house to my Church, and the fact that attending a Saturday Liturgy costs me a couple of hundred dollars in lost overtime.  I do not consider these burdens and gladly do these since they are minimal considering what God has done for me.  On the other hand, I find no benefit in distinguishing between hamburger and shrimp or using corn oil rather than olive oil.  Sounds pretty Jewish to me (not that something being Jewish is particularly bad).  I also have a problem with the "dispensation" since I see things in a more black and white sense.  If it is OK not to read the lables, it is OK to not bother at all.  You either do something or you don't.  I didn't have a problem with the whole thing in my old Church since fasting was treated as something you should do, and would be beneficial if you did do it, but was not a sin if you did not (again, something along the lines of the Epistle lesson for Cheesefare).  My current Church is more along the lines of "if you don't fast, don't come to confession or communion".  OK, I'll see you on the Sunday of Brite Week.  I at least gave it a try before (not that I found any benefit other than obedience).  However, if a piece of meat on Monday pretty muich finishes me for Communion next Sunday, then I may as well eat meat for the rest of the week, too.

FatherHLL said:
I don't know.  I read it the way Liza did.  I also agree with Liza's recommendation.  Go to the priest and figure out a dispensational plan.  I may be wrong, and Punch can correct me if I am, but it seems that part of the problem for many is they feel "guilty" when they have to dispense with the fast under these circumstances, or they feel that they are falling short.  Again, I think it was Isa who stated we are trying to subdue the flesh, but not the body.  If the body is being harmed, the fast is not applicable.     


PeterTheAleut said:
LizaSymonenko said:
PeterTheAleut said:
LizaSymonenko said:
Punch, you have extenuating circumstances.

Might you not speak with your priest and work something out where you can eat what is offered at work, but, offer up something else?  It's sad that you are not getting any spiritual benefit from Lent, but, simply an added hardship which seems to be leaving you feeling anything but peaceful.
I'm curious to know where you read the above in Punch's post.

1.  The spiritual practices of Lent are not intended to give us a "teary-eyed spiritual high". They're intended to lead us to repentance. If we are led to repent of our sins, we have received the ultimate spiritual benefit of Lent.

2.  It's possible to experience peace through those experiences we call a "pain in the butt". Maybe these "pain in the butt" experiences can even lead us to know peace.

Well, when he says things like:

Punch said:
As to increasing my prayer life during the fast, I do.  I pray daily for the blasted fast to end so I can think of other things than food.
...he hardly sounds like he's reaping much benefit from the fast, nor does he sound peaceful.
Yes, but sounds can be deceiving, especially when they're typed. ;)
 

J Michael

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FatherHLL said:
Fasting not only helps us fast from sin, it is de facto fasting from the particular sins of gluttony and drunkenness, and exercising the virtues of temperence, moderation and sobriety.   

Ortho_cat said:
J Michael said:
podkarpatska said:
J Michael said:
I'm aware of the reasons for fasting, and the various methods and forms and "requirements".  To focus so much attention on what we eat or what we do not eat, I think, misses the point somewhat.  My understanding, as taught to me by virtually all the priests I've had, is that we are to fast from *sin*, and to the extent we do that, fasting from this substance or that becomes almost irrelevant, except perhaps as regards obedience to Church "rules" or one's spiritual father.

Just my 1.5 cent's worth  :) 
I agree, that's what I have been taught although 'irrelevant' is probably too harsh of a term to use.
I did qualify "irrelevant" with "almost".  However, if we do manage to fast from sin, to *not* sin (which I'm told *is* possible  ??? ;D), then what we do or do not eat really does become irrelevant, does it not?
fasting from food helps us fast from sin.
Couldn't agree more.  Hopefully while fasting we will not get caught up in the sins of pride and judgmental-ism.
 

J Michael

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Punch said:
Actually, Father, what I feel guilty about is that I feel absolutely no guilt whatsoever for breaking the fast.  I am a firm believer that what goes in the mouth does not defile us, but rather what comes out (I think that is in the Bible somewhere).  I have no objection to increasing alms, nor do I mind attending more services.  In fact, attending addional services is an additional expense given the distance from my house to my Church, and the fact that attending a Saturday Liturgy costs me a couple of hundred dollars in lost overtime.  I do not consider these burdens and gladly do these since they are minimal considering what God has done for me.  On the other hand, I find no benefit in distinguishing between hamburger and shrimp or using corn oil rather than olive oil.  Sounds pretty Jewish to me (not that something being Jewish is particularly bad).  I also have a problem with the "dispensation" since I see things in a more black and white sense.  If it is OK not to read the lables, it is OK to not bother at all.  You either do something or you don't.  I didn't have a problem with the whole thing in my old Church since fasting was treated as something you should do, and would be beneficial if you did do it, but was not a sin if you did not (again, something along the lines of the Epistle lesson for Cheesefare).  My current Church is more along the lines of "if you don't fast, don't come to confession or communion".  OK, I'll see you on the Sunday of Brite Week.  I at least gave it a try before (not that I found any benefit other than obedience).  However, if a piece of meat on Monday pretty muich finishes me for Communion next Sunday, then I may as well eat meat for the rest of the week, too.

FatherHLL said:
I don't know.  I read it the way Liza did.  I also agree with Liza's recommendation.  Go to the priest and figure out a dispensational plan.  I may be wrong, and Punch can correct me if I am, but it seems that part of the problem for many is they feel "guilty" when they have to dispense with the fast under these circumstances, or they feel that they are falling short.  Again, I think it was Isa who stated we are trying to subdue the flesh, but not the body.  If the body is being harmed, the fast is not applicable.    


PeterTheAleut said:
LizaSymonenko said:
PeterTheAleut said:
LizaSymonenko said:
Punch, you have extenuating circumstances.

Might you not speak with your priest and work something out where you can eat what is offered at work, but, offer up something else?  It's sad that you are not getting any spiritual benefit from Lent, but, simply an added hardship which seems to be leaving you feeling anything but peaceful.
I'm curious to know where you read the above in Punch's post.

1.  The spiritual practices of Lent are not intended to give us a "teary-eyed spiritual high". They're intended to lead us to repentance. If we are led to repent of our sins, we have received the ultimate spiritual benefit of Lent.

2.  It's possible to experience peace through those experiences we call a "pain in the butt". Maybe these "pain in the butt" experiences can even lead us to know peace.

Well, when he says things like:

Punch said:
As to increasing my prayer life during the fast, I do.  I pray daily for the blasted fast to end so I can think of other things than food.
...he hardly sounds like he's reaping much benefit from the fast, nor does he sound peaceful.
Yes, but sounds can be deceiving, especially when they're typed. ;)
Wow!!  That's the first time I've heard of breaking a fast being a sin and cause for exclusion from Holy Communion, otherwise known as excommunication!  Sheesh! 

Do they not read or take to heart St. John Chrysostom's Paschal Homily there?
 
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