Monday, February 27, 2012
LENT: Here's the deal ...
The following helpful hints are lifted and edited from a 2008 email from Matushka Elizabeth Perdomo (with gratitude).
After Sunday, February 19th (Meatfare Sunday / Sunday of the Last Judgement) - no meats are eaten until Pascha; that includes beef, pork, chicken and any vertebrate animals, including fish. (Though Fish may be consumed during "Cheese Week" leading up to Clean Monday, February 27th.)
For the week of February 20th, thru Sunday, February 26th (Cheesefare Sunday / The Sunday of Forgiveness) - Dairy products and eggs may still be eaten any day of the week! Butter, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. are all good! There are some recipe suggestions for Cheesefare Week in the St. George's Pantry link below.
From Monday, February 27th until AFTER the midnight services for Holy Pascha, no meat or dairy or egg products are eaten. A strictly VEGAN diet is adopted by Orthodox Christians throughout the world. That means grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, etc.
There are some exceptions to the rule during the Great Fast. For example, on the Feast of the Forty Martyrs of Sabaste, Friday - March 9th - wine and oil are allowed. On the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25th, fish, wine and oil are allowed; the following day, March 26th, wine and oil are allowed. During the Fifth Week of Lent, it is a local custom for allowance of wine and oil on Wednesday/Thursday of the Great Canon and/or the final Akathist Friday. Fish, wine and oil are also allowed on April 8th, the Celebration of the Entrance into Jerusalem or Palm Sunday.
Non-vertebrate sea food is allowed any day during the fast, except for during the "Strict Fast" days. That includes shrimp, scallops, clams, oysters, lobster, etc. So, if you need a special occasion dish or night out, or need a bit extra protein, try to go for seafood dishes!
The liturgical calendars from Church pretty well specify the fast days and the degree of fasting we strive to enter into. If you have questions, check your calendars!
Also, the Greek Archdiocese Online Calendar is helpful. Local practice may vary; when in doubt, ask your priest.
Also: Nursing mothers, Pregnant Women, Young Children and those in Ill Health or who must take certain medications should adapt the fasting rule according to their particular needs. Dairy products are particularly recommended for young children, nursing mothers and pregnant women. Please do talk to [your priest / spiritual father] and receive a blessing and some guidance if you have any questions or special circumstances which would prevent you from following the fast. Having that "Blessing" can better bring you into the fullness of the season, even when one must adapt the fasting guidelines.
People often worry about children and fasting. Children learn by our examples and through our efforts. Dairy can always be added for young children, but other than that, they can easily learn to eat what we eat: Fasting Foods. The key is to make and serve well balanced meals, which can be done even with vegan food choices. It's a learning process - so, let's all learn! If one eats lunches or breakfasts at school, it can be more challenging. Still, children can try to make choices which more closely follow the fasting guidelines if they are taught to do so and to want to do so. But, the point is to try to do the best one can. Maybe peanut butter sandwiches, or even cheese pizza, or a tuna sub must be substituted now and then. But, it is better to try than not to even try at all. After all, why do we Fast? To grow closer to Christ! So, what's not to try for?
Also, when one is traveling, sometimes it is often not possible to keep the fast completely. However, even so, try to follow the fast as closely as possible. If one can not eat a vegan meal, try shrimp or other non-vertebrate seafood. Or, if none is available, try fish. Or eggs... Or dairy... Don't just go straight to steak just because you're not at home!
There are always situations which come up during the Great Fast. The FASTING is not the point of the fast; the REACHING and FOCUSING on Christ IS the Point. Fasting is our Tool; our Friend; our Aid in setting aside this time and really refocusing our lives. So, if something comes up, don't beat yourself up. Refocus, get back into the fast, and continue putting one step in front of the other.
Fasting can not and is not meant to stand alone either. It must be accompanied by its other two components: Prayer and Almsgiving. Remember to make time in your busy lives and attend as many of the special lenten services as possible during this precious season. Remember to give to the poor and needy - and not just your dollars, but your actions as well!
Matushka then points to the programs at her own parish, St George.
Recipes ... and more.
Matushka's friend Denise, who lives in Savannah, GA, also has a cooking blog which shares recipes throughout the fasting and other seasons. She is Italian American, so many of her excellent recipes reflect that background ... HERE.
Image of a lenticular cloud taken from HERE.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
My Low Bow
Prayers coveted and assured, during this holy season of the Great Fast, as we prepare to meet the Lord in the Bright and Glorious Day of Resurrection (Pascha - April 15, 2012).
-- Unworthy Priest Joseph
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Faith & Humor - Notes from Muscovy (6 of 6)
An excerpt from Faith & Humor:
When I took the veil, I threw away my ballet slippers and my tutu, as well as all the photographs which showed me dancing. Yet now I have such a strong desire to dance.”
The priest said nothing to the novice, but a month later, on her name day, he gave her a gift of pink satin slippers and a real tutu.
The novice was overjoyed. She tried on her new slippers and they fit her perfectly.
“When you think of your past,” said the priest, “and you get the desire to stand in third position or sixth position, I give you my blessing to put on your slippers and your tutu and to dance as much as you wish. You can use our conference hall. Get the key from Mother Eustaphia.
After that, the novice lost all desire to dance. She never asked for the key to the conference hall. She put the slippers and the tutu away in the corner of her trunk and didn’t think of them for months on end. But every year, on the evening of her old name day (she had by then become a nun and had taken a different name), she would open the lid, look at the priest’s gifts and remember his warmth and infinite love, and she would pray for the soul of the Hieromonk Andrianus, because the priest had long since passed away.
A word about the book: It is not a laugh a page; much of it is troubling. I guess you could say that it has an attractive existential quality that will comfort some and confuse others. I found it unique ... and head-scratchingly refreshing.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Mr Robinson's Pithy Pencil
Monday, February 20, 2012
Faith & Humor - Notes from Muscovy (5 of 6)
An excerpt from Faith & Humor:
Whenever the priest opens his mouth, silky soft grasses spread around the ground, sweet-smelling flowers bow their heads, young leaves dripping with sap cling to their branches in silent admiration, birds in heaven fold their wings and fall silent, daring not to go on with their wonderfully sweet songs, wild beasts, thick of fur and long of tail, freeze midstride and sniff the air, pricking their ears in awestruck surprise, and creatures of the sea lay motionless, moving their tails ever so slightly as they emit tiny bubbles. Humans record the priest’s sermons on tape and video cassette recorders and print his books in the thousands. But some bewildered and rubbed their temples, trying to grasp his meaning.
“It’s very simple,” an admiring member of his congregation said. “Our reverend father is under a lot of pressure and he is very busy. He has forgotten plain Russian words and is using only old Russian ones, because at the university he used to get straight As, both in Old Russian and Church Slavonic. It would be better if we had a translator for him. For instance, when our reverend father says: ‘Be it known to Thee that Thou hast to shake from the soles of Thine shoes the dust of atheism even as Thou sheddest pride and dangerous self-regard,’ he simply means that we must give up our sinful ways. See how simple it is? Nothing to puzzle over.”
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Faith & Humor - Notes from Muscovy (4 of 6)
An excerpt from Faith & Humor:
“You should give birth to the baby and then leave it in a carriage out in the cold, as if it were an accident. It will scream for a bit and then freeze to death, and all will be well. It’s a lesser sin than abortion.”
“Why is it a lesser sin?”
“Try it, you’ll see.”
But no one tried.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Faith & Humor - Notes from Muscovy (3 of 6)
An excerpt from Faith & Humor:
She stumbled momentarily, searching for words.
“… You are like Saint Seraphim of Sarov.”
The priest shook his head from side to side and stared intently at Olga Petrovna.
“Wait a moment and I’ll explain why you think this,” he said and went behind the altar.
He didn’t come back for a long time. Olga Petrovna even became a bit nervous and wondered what the priest could be doing behind the altar. She wondered whether he was back there praying for divine inspiration and tried to guess what he might say to her. Would he explain to her, perhaps, in what way he was like Saint Seraphim?
Finally, the priest came back and said, “It’s because you’re an idiot.”
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Faith & Humor - Notes from Muscovy (2 of 6)
An excerpt from Faith & Humor:
Whereas elsewhere the right nave was still being fixed, the roof was already on its second year of being patched, and they were using a temporary curtain instead of a good one for the Royal Doors, our priest’s church already boasted silver domes with golden stars painted on them, and an iconostasis with sacred sixteen century icons. He even managed to have a new nave excavated and consecrated, the kind you build underground for special occasions.
While other priests were just beginning to wage a battle with their municipality in order to get a house for their deacons, our priest already had four such houses built. One he gave to his deacons, the other was used to conduct religious classes, the third had been converted to an orphanage and the fourth became a hospice for old women. Every house had antique furniture, eighteenth-century armchairs, marble floors and crystal chandeliers. He felt that while people admired the fruits of human labor, they might also think of the beauty of the Lord’s world and, sooner or later, they might even give some thought to the Creator as well.
Once he figured out what to use those houses for, our priest bought three shops, all of them of a religious nature, of course. One sold vestments, the other church literature and the third soy products, to be used during greater and lesser fasts. Once he sorted out his stores, the priest bought a stable, so that he could offer sleigh rides to visitors during church holidays, to make sure they didn’t get bored and didn’t start bickering with one another. The stable came with an amusement park. In a short order, he had a miniature Disneyland built, with Russian Orthodox saints instead of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.
Once he finished the Disneyland, he began building a Russian Orthodox pool, so that he could take a dip after conducting an exhausting service during Lent, or else after a horseback ride or a visit to the amusement park. When the pool was finished, he had a sauna built next to it, as well. And, given that he now had a sauna, he felt he needed a Russian Orthodox sports center. And a sports center naturally required gym equipment. With exercise equipment in place, there was a need for a Russian Orthodox hotel, complete with a conference center. That was because there was now no end of visitors from abroad, eager to learn from the priest how to run an Orthodox parish pastorally. Having had a hotel built, he really needed a Russian Orthodox airport. Once the airport was completed, and a few dozen charter flights were shuttling about, connecting it with 26 countries around the world, naturally there was a need for a small Russian Orthodox airplane of his own, as well as a modest helicopter, of course, to be able to inspect his properties and give rides to visitors.
However, if truth be told, some visitors got air sick. To accommodate those in the spirit of altruism, the priest had a small canal built, connecting the Moscow River, with special pilgrimage cruises run by a special Russian Orthodox river fleet. But traveling by water turned out to be too slow. There was nothing to be done but to build a Russian Orthodox railroad. The railroad had to be guarded against bandits and other undesirable, and so the need arose for a special Russian Orthodox Armed Forces, complete with their own gonfalons, banners, a choir, and other requisite props.
The priest eventually realized that now it was time for him to become the Russian Orthodox President. He thought it over but decided against it. If he were to become President, he would no longer have time to conduct services. After all, he was still a cleric, in the rite of Melchizedak. And so he remained a priest, having decided against becoming President (pp. 41-43).
Friday, February 10, 2012
Faith & Humor - Notes from Muscovy (1 of 6)
An excerpt from Faith & Humor:
He didn't get to be that way all at once. At first he loved everyone. Then he stopped loving people and began to feel disdain for them. He who has lived and reasoned, will in his heart hold humans in disdain, to quote Pushkin. He hated them because there were so many people, more and more each year. First, those overheated faceless crowds kept breathing. Second, they pushed and shoved and tried to get ahead, clinking empty jars they had brought with them to fill with holy water, and they stuck palm leaves into his face to make sure he sprinkled holy water over them properly. Third, they asked stupid questions and at confessions bored him with tales of husbands and mothers-in-law and demanded advice which they never acted upon, anyway. Fourth, they believed in the evil eye. Fifth, they brought their loudly screaming grandchildren to take communion, on the advice of some old hag doing sorcery on the side. At high holidays, the priest even tried to lead services with his eyes closed. He feared that if he opened them, his hatred would turn them all to ash. Nevertheless, he was a good man and in the company of his friends and family he was actually sweet and kind. He was a little irritable, that's all. But an excellent man for all that. In Sunday School, he made kites for the kids (pp. 59-60).
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
+BB on PP (Letter to the Editor)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Bishop Basil Essey
It has been brought to my attention that Planned Parenthood, a group under investigation by the U.S. Congress, is contemplating opening five new facilities in central Nebraska over the next few years, with Kearney — the city where the oldest parish in my diocese is located — is on the list of possible sites.
For 2,000 years, Orthodox Christians have been consistent in their pro-life stance and so stand in opposition to these plans by Planned Parenthood. Here follows a portion of a joint statement issued by the Orthodox-Roman Catholic Bilateral Consultation in the United States, which succinctly sets forth the pro-life position of both the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches:
“We feel constrained at this point in history to affirm that the ‘right to life’ implies a right to a decent life and to full human development, not merely to a marginal existence.
“We affirm that the furthering of this goal for the unborn, the mentally retarded, the aging and the underprivileged is our duty on a global as well as a domestic scale.
“We deplore in particular the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision failing to recognize the rights of the unborn — a decision which has led to widespread indiscriminate early abortion.
“We affirm our common Christian tradition with regard to the right of the unborn to life.
“We acknowledge our responsibility to mediate the love of Christ, especially to the troubled expectant mother, and thus make possible the transmission and nurturing of new life and its fully human development.
“We urge our churches and all believers to take a concrete stand on this matter at this time and to exemplify this evangelical imperative in their personal lives and professional decisions.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The author is the bishop of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Founded in 1903, St. George Orthodox Church in Kearney is a part of Essey’s diocese.
Friday, February 03, 2012
The Preparatory Sundays of Great Lent
An Introduction to Great Lent
Lent in Our Life
The True Nature of Fasting by Metropolitan KALLISTOS
The Rules of Fasting
The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts
Oh ... then there's the MOTHERLODE.
Orthodox Protest HHS Decision on Contraceptives
February 2nd, 2012
Record of Protest Against the Infringement of Religious Liberty
by the Department of Health and Human Services
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, which is comprised of the 65 canonical Orthodox bishops in the United States, Canada and Mexico, join their voices with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and all those who adamantly protest the recent decision by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and call upon all the Orthodox Christian faithful to contact their elected representatives today to voice their concern in the face of this threat to the sanctity of the Church’s conscience.
In this ruling by HHS, religious hospitals, educational institutions, and other organizations will be required to pay for the full cost of contraceptives (including some abortion-inducing drugs) and sterilizations for their employees, regardless of the religious convictions of the employers.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. This freedom is transgressed when a religious institution is required to pay for “contraceptive services” including abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization services that directly violate their religious convictions. Providing such services should not be regarded as mandated medical care. We, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops, call upon HHS Secretary Sebelius and the Obama Administration to rescind this unjust ruling and to respect the religious freedom guaranteed all Americans by the First Amendment.
# # # # #
Contact: The Office of the Secretariat
1559 North Woodlawn Street
Wichita, KS 67208-2429
Assembly Web Site: www.assemblyofbishops.org