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[The Creation of the Chicken]

An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
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Thursday, February 22, 2007

What are you giving up for Lent?

I heard a brief local radio report about Ash Wednesday yesterday. Overtop of what sounded like Gregorian chant, the reporter was talking about the services outside the Roman Catholic Cathedral St. James in downtown Seattle (Do they really do Gregorian Chant there or was this canned?) Describing Lent as being modeled after "the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness before His crucifixion" (I'll give the reporter the benefit of being technically correct in that the 40 day fast was indeed before the crucifixion...AND three years of ministry.)

Anyway, the reporter asked some of the parishioners leaving the service what they were giving up for Lent after describing Lent as a time to "give up something important." One person said "golf" another said "sweets" and still others said "swearing", "anger", "selfishness", and then...get this..."loneliness."

Loneliness? Well I think I understand why it is something this person needs to give up. [cue the Twilight Zone music please]

Really now, besides the craziness of "loneliness", many of the responses were things that Christians ought to be giving up ALL THE TIME! but beside that, really, deciding for yourself what you need to give up is just another form of self-diagnosis. Best of luck to those who make such decisions. On a serious note, does the Roman Catholic Church no longer offer even guidelines for Lenten fasting?

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 9:17 AM [+]
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11 comments


11 Comments:

Recall that for a parishoner of any Latin Rite Catholic parish in the world, the "fast" before receiving communion is 60 minutes. Now, note that's before *receiving*, not before the service starts. If the service is an hour and a half, you can have a corndog in the pew as long as it's done an hour before you go up to the rail. It may help understand why the asceticism sounds a little, oh, little?
--- bob

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:33 PM  

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Of course, from an Orthodox perspective, the Catholic fasting is highly mockable. On the other hand, there is at least some idea that one ought to treat Lent and communion with some kind of seriousness. Even these paltry (as compared to us highly ascetical Orthodox -- ur, just don't ask me about my weight) efforts go completely against the grain of our modern world where no seriousness or respect is due anything or can be edifying in the least. We shouldn't let our own spiritual pride allow us to judge others efforts too much.

Hey, maybe I will give up spiritual pride for Lent. (Fat chance).

-Rick

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:02 PM  

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Oh you're right Rick...I'm going to go get a hamburger and give up loneliness instead. Will you come over and play with me?

But seriously, I'm not trying to express any spiritual pride here...rather seriously wondering what - if anything - we lose if WE get to choose our own Lenten fasting? Do YOU trust yourself?

To that degree I WILL be proud. I cannot trust myself, I rather think others ought not to as well.

And again I ask...anyone know what became of our Latin brothers' fast?
I'm asking seriously.

By Blogger fdj, at 2:29 PM  

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Actually, everyone's fast during Lent is their personal choice. I don't doubt that you follow the rules to the letter. In general for me, Lent is a time where I notice where I fall short. So let me know when you are serving the hamburger and I will definitely help you fast from loneliness.

Why not ask what Buddhists fast from? I do know the answer to that one.

-Rick

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:36 PM  

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their personal choice

So for coffee hour you can bring corn doggies and that would be kosher with Fr. Tom?

It's not really a matter of "personal" choice...whereas some people may have legitimate reasons for not following the prescription of the Church, I don't think they should because of "personal choice"?

By Blogger fdj, at 9:59 AM  

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And as a side, I DO in fact follow the fast to the letter and I'll be sure to include that lie in my next confession.

By Blogger fdj, at 10:00 AM  

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Ur, you can go to the grocery store and buy the biggest steak you want. Come home, throw it on the grill and chow down. What stops you? Is this a personal choice or not? In our time at least, obedience to the discipline of the Church is a choice.

-Rick

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:35 AM  

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Tricky Ricky...yes I understand what you are saying.

By Blogger fdj, at 11:38 AM  

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This might sound flippant, but if we ask what happened to the Latin practice of Lent, it can pretty much be summed up as "Vatican II." In the supposed interests of being more accessible to Modern Man, official Roman Catholcism took its point of departure from thinkers such as Teilhard de Chardin (a kind of evolutionary/technological Utopianism), Karl Rahner, and Eduard Schillebeeckx. All these men in essence dispensed with Chalcedonian Christology. With few exceptions, I have to say that mainstream Roman Catholicism has moved so far from the questions and concerns that shaped the ecumenical creeds that it is actually hard to use them to categorize Roman Catholicism as orthodox or heretical. It's just a different religion. Of course, this doesn't mean that, as an Orthodox, I agree with pre-Vatican II Roman Catholicism, either. I'm simply noting the change and attributing a cause.

Moreover, the older Latin Lenten practice in particular, and the approach to asceticism in general, was always tied in with its legal/penal doctrine of salvation, merit, indulgence, purgatory, and so on. Thus, even the more conservative Latinism was quite dissimilar from Orthodoxy on this point.

By Blogger Patrick, at 3:25 PM  

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There is a world of difference between my choice to observe the Orthodox Lenten fast, and the Catholic (and other liturgical Protestants) choosing to "give up" something for Lent. My choice to obey the Orthodox fast or not is a matter of obedience. Either I obey the fast or I do not. The Roman Catholic fast, no matter how strict one is, is still an act of self will: I choose my fast. So instead of cutting off the self will, I glorify it, which i would submit is not spiritually productive, no matter how strictly one fasts from golf and lonliness.

By Blogger Radoje, at 9:18 AM  

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Radoje, I am encouraged by your emphasis on obedience. It is the only way toward theology as experience energized by God's uncreated energy rather than mere theoretical explication and adherence.

I love Fr. Schmemann's Great Lent: Journey to Pascha. The title is very meaningful to me, because it gives the positive purpose of Lent, which is nothing less than preparation for receiving new life. Orthodoxy keeps talking about authentic participation in Christ's death and resurrection, while we keep justifying self-indulgence in the name of "Christian freedom," all the while wondering why we make little or no progress except in the dubious ability to manipulate propositions.

By Blogger Patrick, at 12:24 PM  

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