Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Art of Breaking the Fast

Dear Parish Faithful!

Pascha: The Fourth Day


If there is an "art" to fasting, then there is certainly an "art" to breaking the fast. Feasting is not synonymous with a total lack of restraint in which - excuse the expression - we stuff ourselves beyond the point of satiation and into a kind of food-induced stupor. Hence, what we learned during Lent can be wiped out in a couple of days! This pastoral reminder was prompted by a letter I just received, in which, among other topics, I read the following insightful comments: "Oddly enough we already miss the Lent season! I was looking forward to having some freedom again, but somehow we are all changed from this experience. Also, I didn't realize how careful we needed to be with breaking the fast. I thought we were being cautious, but it seems whatever I put on the table was too much for us...." This family's comment that "we are all changed from this experience" are more than a little interesting.

If you discount the fasting rules for a moment, we could say that Great Lent is a disciplined reminder of how Christians should be living throughout the course of the year and in their lives. This would be manifesting the freedom of the children of God, by regular prayer, almsgiving and fasting, with an eye on struggling with a very self-indulgent culture that enslaves us to our appetites. If we intensified our prayer and almsgiving during Great Lent, should we now abandon all of that as we get back to "normal?" Do we now "take a break" from prayer and almsgiving? As a related extension to that, we could say that even though we are not now fasting, this again does mean to open the door to an excessive self-indulgence that knows of no restraint. To carry some of the good practices renewed during Great Lent over into the paschal season can only be healthy for both soul and body.

I am thoroughly enjoying Bright Week. It reinforces and sustains the very foundation of our Christian Faith - the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead. I bless the non-lenten food on our table in the name of the Risen Christ and enjoy partaking of it. And yet I am glad that someone from our parish wrote in such a way as to remind me and all of us by putting our celebration of Pascha - and the breaking of the Fast - in a sound perspective. It makes no sense to lose what we may have gained once we transition from Lent to Pascha.

Fr. Steven

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