Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Great Fast, The Whole Person, The Total Effort

Dear Parish Faithful & Friends in Christ,

Yesterday, in anticipation of Great Lent's beginning next Monday, I sent out a basic outline of the "fasting rules" that serve as directives or guidelines for that upcoming season. This was accompanied by what I hope was some sound pastoral commentary - brief though it was - that gave a bit of context to those guidelines. Today, I would like to go a good deal further in that direction. I have attached what amounts to be a very helpful summary of a brilliant article by Archbishop Kallistos Ware, entitled "The Meaning of the Great Fast." This article serves as a wonderful introduction to Archbishop Ware's translation of The Triodion, the liturgical book that provides the hymnography for Great Lent and Holy Week. In fact, this article has become something of a "classic" since it first appeared in 1978. It is a very holistic approach to the inner and outer meaning of Great Lent.

Be that as it may, some years ago, Sister Vicki Bellas came up with an excellent one-page "bullet-point" type summary that still manages to reflect the over-all spirit of Archbishop Ware's main insights into the "meaning" of Great Lent. The fasting effort is deepened and expanded so that our return to God in repentance is kept sight of as the true purpose of Great Lent; and not just a legalistic adherence to the "law" of the Great Fast. The demons fast and they tremble before God! The whole person, as created in the image and likeness of God, is engaged in a total effort that embraces the material and the spiritual - the body and the soul. Sister Vicki's careful summary conveys that essential quality of Great Lent as observed within the Orthodox Church.

Please read this carefully as a necessary supplement to yesterday's material.

Fr. Steven

Webservant's Note: The complete text of Archbishop Kallistos article, The Meaning of the Great Fast: The True Nature of Fasting, may be found here.

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