Tuesday, March 03, 2015
You ask how to lay the beginnings of repentance. —If you wish to begin repentance, look at the woman sinner: she washed Christ’s feet with her tears (Luke 7:38). Tears wash away sins of every person. But a person acquires tears by internal efforts, through the diligent study of the Holy Scripture, through patience, meditation on the Last Judgment and eternal shame, and through self-denial, just as the Lord said: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Mat. 16:24). To deny one’s self and to take up the cross — means to sever your own will in everything and regard yourself as nothing.
Regarding temperance in food and drink, the fathers teach to partake of both in lesser quantities that is required i.e. not to fill your stomach fully. Each individual has to determine his own measure in both food and wine. Moreover, the measure of restraint is not limited to food and drink, but extends to talking, sleep, clothing and to all the senses. There must be its own measure in all of this.
If upon starting a conversation, you realize that it is sinful — terminate it by saying: "No, we won’t talk about this," or, having remained silent for a few moments, say: "I have forgotten what I wanted to say," — and switch the conversation to a different non-sinful topic.
Do you wish to free yourself of sorrows and not be burdened by them? Expect bigger ones — and you will calm down. Remember Job and other Saints — what sorrows they had endured! Acquire their patience and your spirit will be consoled.
- Elders Barsanuphius and John
Monday, February 23, 2015
Always in our acts of abstinence we should keep in mind St. Paul's admonition not to condemn others who fast less strictly: 'Let not him who abstains pass judgment on him who eats' (Rom. 14: 3). Equally, we remember Christ's condemnation of outward display in prayer, fasting or almsgiving (Matt. 6: 1-18). Both these Scriptural passages are often recalled in the Triodion: Consider well, my soul: dost thou fast? Then despise not thy neighbor. Dost thou abstain from food? Condemn not thy brother.
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Consult your parish calendar
Great Lent is the longest and strictest fasting season of the year. Week before Lent ("Cheesefare Week"): Meat and other animal products are prohibited, but eggs and dairy products are permitted, even on Wednesday and Friday.
First Week of Lent: Only two full meals are eaten during the first five days, on Wednesday and Friday after the Presanctified Liturgy. Nothing is eaten from Monday morning until Wednesday evening, the longest time without food in the Church year. (Few laymen keep these rules in their fullness).
For the Wednesday and Friday meals, as for all weekdays in Lent, meat and animal products, fish, dairy products, wine and oil are avoided.
On Saturday of the first week, the usual rule for Lenten Saturdays begins.
Weekdays in the Second through Sixth Weeks: The strict fasting rule is kept every day: avoidance of meat, meat products, fish, eggs, dairy, wine and oil.
Saturdays and Sundays in the Second through Sixth Weeks: Wine and oil are permitted; otherwise the strict fasting rule is kept.
Holy Week: The Thursday evening meal is ideally the last meal taken until Pascha. At this meal, wine and oil are permitted.
The Fast of Great and Holy Friday is the strictest fast day of the year: even those who have not kept a strict Lenten fast are strongly urged not to eat on this day.
After St. Basil's Liturgy on Holy Saturday, a little wine and fruit may be taken for sustenance. The fast is sometimes broken on Saturday night after Resurrection Matins, or, at the latest, after the Divine Liturgy on Pascha. Wine and oil are permitted on several feast days if they fall on a weekday during Lent.
On Annunciation and Palm Sunday, fish is also permitted.