Κυριακή, 11 Μαρτίου 2018

A voice from Zambia & Malawi: "We urge you, friends, not to be afraid of fasting, but to try it"


Orthodox Metropolis of Zambia & Malawi (1st photo from here)

At this time, we Orthodox Christians are in a period of expectation and preparation so that after the terrible Passion we may be worthy'of celebrating the Resurrection of Christ. On of the characteristics of this period, which is full of mystical pulsation and messages, is fasting, with its rich and multi-faceted meaning, as it directly refers to one of the most defining attributes of man, self-discipline, in other words, man's ability to control and tame his behaviour, on the one hand exceeding the instinctive urging of his instincts and on the other, consciously and willingly obeying certain principles and rules, which he respects and honours. Due to the fact that this wonderful ability of man is teachable, its
cultivation and strengthening require real practice. With practice, the young child learns to control his reactions; with practice he gains good habits.
Also with practice, both spiritual and physical, the child tests and reinforces his will, so that in growing up he slowly shows signs of self-discipline which we adults call signs of maturity.
At the same time, fasting is an exercise but also an expression of self-discipline. It is a blessing to be able, within reasonable boundaries, to incorporate it into family life; in other words, to make our children from a young age. participants in this comprehensive meaning of voluntary abstinence from a certain pleasure. 
Not because of fear, but out of respect for certain rules of our religious traditions and as a part of man's beautiful, multifronted struggle to continually improve. In this way, we can slowly find ways, opportunities and footholds to extend the meaning of fasting; in other words moderation and abstention - self-discipline - from feeding habits in terms and characteristics of daily behaviour, as
also in fields of moral and spiritual dilemmas and choices.

 
 
The aim then of fasting remains always the education of the body and the soul, the cleansing from passions. The exercising of all the spiritual operations. That is why it is weaved together with all factors of our life, especially with humility, love, faith and prayer.
Outside of these virtues it has no meaning. As Holy Scripture so beautifully tells us. you cannot fast, yet suck out the blood of your employees by your unjust practices. You cannot be fasting yet slander and bring shame on others' reputations and destroy families.
The true meaning then is prevalence of the spirit over matter. Fasting means
internal discipline and an attempt at mentally and spiritually distancing itself from every vile and insatiable emotion, whether this concerns the enjoyment of taste (food, drink, cigarettes) or whether it has to do with other human weaknesses, always aiming at our inner improvement. For him who likes discussing others, fasting means that he should concentrate on himself. For him who enjoys idle chatter, it means to discover the meaning and richness of silence. For him who is charmed by and rushes out to obtain every impressive and superfluous product, to think rather of realizing and easing the needs of his neighbour.
For him who frivolously wastes his time in front of the false glass world of
television, fasting means to give up a few hours to keep a very lonely person company.
For him who gets angry quickly and gets carried away, fasting means to lower his voice and for his language to become thoughtful and tolerant, even sweet, to everyone that he has hurt. Only in this way can fasting take on an essential. ontologicaL theological character. It becomes a practice and a way of life for man; it is not an intention, but a medium. But it has high aims: transformation and theosis.
We urge you, friends, not to be afraid of fasting, but to try it, with the opportunity given to us during Holy Week. Only in this way can each one of us be truly prepared for the great event which will be completed on the night of the Resurrection and which will, at the same time, be our own personal Resurrection and life. 

 

See also

The History and Structure of the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts
 
The Orthodox Church for the need and social injustice
"These African faces are the new faces of the Orthodox Church"
Serving the Least of the Brethren
«African needs to be helped, to find his divine roots, for his soul to be at peace, to become united with God...» 


The Way - An introduction to the Orthodox Faith 
Theosis (deification): The True Purpose of Human Life
Theosis, St. Silouan and Elder Sophrony
Orthodoxy's Worship: The Sanctification of the Entire World 
A Deer Lost in Paradise
LIVE, BEYOND THE LIMITS!


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