Feasts and Fasts


 

From Lent to Pascha: The Journey of the People of God

by Melanie Paulick

 

Beginning with Vespers on Forgiveness Sunday, the entire atmosphere of the Orthodox Church is markedly different from that of the regular liturgical year. Bold, joyful melody is replaced by simplicity and quiet. Prayer and supplication are constant and intensified. Darkness blankets and dulls the outward brilliance of the church. Such outward transforma­tions help to signify a different time in the Church: a time of pilgrimage. During the period of Great Lent and Holy Week, the Orthodox Church is the vehicle by which the people of God are able to “return to Eden.”  ...read more

 

Fasting & Feasting: Balanced Diets, Balanced Souls

by Richard McCombs

 

The fruitfulness of our fasting depends on our mind and on our heart. Without the spirit of fasting, our external asceticism is barren soil. If we fast for the wrong reasons or in the wrong spirit, it can leave us worse off. However, when quickened by the right spirit, this soil yields a rich harvest.

 

The goal of fasting is simple. We fast so that we may better love, know, reveal, and enjoy God. We yearn, or at least intend, to do all of these things fully, but we also fall short. We fast to fulfill this intention. We fast to affirm God.  ...read more

 

The Feast of Feasts: Pascha

by a monk of St. Tikhon’s Monastery, in The Holy Orthodox Church: Her Life and Teachings, Copyright 1986 by the St. Tikhon Seminary Press

 

The Resurrection of Christ the Redeemer is the completion of the Great Work for the redemption of mankind from enslavement to Satan and corruption; the power of sin is destroyed and Death itself is abolished. The Resurrection of Christ grants every one the right to call himself a child of God; it is the return of Paradise lost, the threshold of the Holy of Holies of immortal life and communion with God. St. Paul tells us that if there had been no Resurrection then our Christian faith would have been deprived of any foundation or value: If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.... If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins (1 Cor. 15:14, 17).  ...read more

 

 

St. John Chrysostom on the Charity of Fasting

by Fr. Dn. Matthew Steenburg

 

In the Orthodox Church, we fast regularly. Every week of the year, with few exceptions, have days dedicated to this task. Certain seasons throughout the year are appointed as specifically fasting seasons. Most obviously: Great Lent, but also this Nativity Fast, the Fast of the Dormition, the Fast of the Holy Apostles, and the fasts before various feasts. It behooves us, then, to ask not just once or twice in our lives, but regularly, what is this fasting and why do we do it? And here, the fathers, the saints of the Church, have much to teach us and continually to remind us.  ...read more

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The Twelve Great Feasts

by a monk of St. Tikhon’s Monastery, in The Holy Orthodox Church: Her Life and Teachings, Copyright 1986 by the St. Tikhon Seminary Press

 

The first Great Feast to fall in the Church Year is the Nativity of the Most-Holy Theotokos. It is entirely fitting that at the beginning of the new religious year all Orthodox Christians should come before the highest example of human holiness that the Orthodox Church holds precious and venerates that of Mary, the Theotokos and Mother of God. This day is seen as one of universal joy; for on this day the boundary of the Old and New Covenants was born the Most-Blessed Virgin, pre-arranged from the ages by Divine Providence to serve the mystical Incarnation of God the Word.  ...read more

 

 

Why Do We Fast?

by Fr. Stephen Freeman

 

Fasting is not very alive and well in the Christian world. Much of that world has long lost any living connection with the historical memory of Christian fasting. Without the guidance of Tradition, many modern Christians either do not fast, or constantly seek to re-invent the practice, sometimes with unintended consequences.

There are other segments of Christendom who have tiny remnants of the traditional Christian fast, but in the face of a modern world have reduced the tradition to relatively trivial acts of self-denial.  ...read more

Transfiguration

by Met. Anthony Bloom

 

There are blessed or tragic moments when we can see a person revealed to us in a light with a depth, with an awesome beauty which we have never suspected before. It happens when our eyes are open, at a moment of purity of heart; because it is not only God Himself Whom the pure in heart will see; it is also the divine image, the light shining in the darkness of a human soul, of the human life that we can see at moments when our heart becomes still, becomes transparent, becomes pure.  ...read more

 

Fasting

by Fr. Thomas Hopko

 

The purpose of fasting is to gain mastery over oneself and to conquer the passions of the flesh. It is to liberate oneself from dependence on the things of this world in order to concentrate on the things of the Kingdom of God. It is to give power to the soul so that it would not yield to temptation and sin. According to St. Seraphim, fasting is an "indispensable means" of gaining the fruit of the Holy Spirit in one's life , and Jesus Himself taught that some forms of evil cannot be conquered without it (Matthew 17:21, Mark 9:29).  ...read more

 

There Be Dragons: The Feast of Theophany

by Fr. Stephen Freeman

 

Today marks one of the greatest feasts of the Orthodox year (New Calendar), the Feast of Theophany, Christ’s Baptism in the Jordan river. Across the world Orthodox Christians will gather after the Liturgy to bless the waters: the ocean, a river, a spring, etc.

Every feast day in Orthodoxy is connected to the Feast of Pascha, because Pascha is God’s great act of salvation. However, some feasts show this connection more clearly than others. Three feasts in the year share the same pattern of services: Pascha, Nativity, and Theophany. Each has a Vesperal Liturgy on its Eve and a Vigil the night before (with occasional variances).  ...read more

 

A Culture Obsessed with Food

by Douglas Cramer

 

But, the Church teaches us that there is a better way—a healthier way, a saner way. We can learn to bring our relationship with food in to balance. And in the process, we can bring healing to our relationship to not just food, but to other parts of our earthly lives—how we spend our money, how we spend our time, how we care for our loved ones. The fasting days and seasons of the Church are there to teach us how.  ...read more

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