Historical Look at Fasting

IMG_5180-0Taken from the 5th century church historian Socrates Scholasticus’ “Church History” Book V,  (here) on what fasting looked like at that time:

“…..The fasts before Easter will be found to be differently observed among different people. Those at Rome fast three successive weeks before Easter, excepting Saturdays and Sundays. Those in Illyrica and all over Greece and Alexandria observe a fast of six weeks, which they term ‘The forty days’ fast.’ Others commencing their fast from the seventh week before Easter, and fasting three five days only, and that at intervals, yet call that time ‘The forty days’ fast.’ It is indeed surprising to me that thus differing in the number of days, they should both give it one common appellation; but some assign one reason for it, and others another, according to their several fancies. One can see also a disagreement about the manner of abstinence from food, as well as about the number of days. Some wholly abstain from things that have life: others feed on fish only of all living creatures: many together with fish, eat fowl also, saying that according to Moses, Genesis 1:20 these were likewise made out of the waters. Some abstain from eggs, and all kinds of fruits: others partake of dry bread only; still others eat not even this: while others having fasted till the ninth hour, afterwards take any sort of food without distinction. And among various nations there are other usages, for which innumerable reasons are assigned. Since however no one can produce a written command as an authority, it is evident that the apostles left each one to his own free will in the matter, to the end that each might perform what is good not by constraint or necessity. Such is the difference in the churches on the subject of fasts….”

40 Ton Mosaic

H/T: Theology and Society here

An enormous Russian mosaic started arriving at the largest Orthodox Church in the Balkans today (May 3, 2017), in what Serbia’s leaders hailed as a sign of “eternal” friendship between the two Slavic Orthodox nations, according to the ABC News website.

The first part of the 40-ton mosaic — personally approved by Russian President Vladimir Putin — arrived in 66 sections at the Saint Sava temple in Belgrade, one of the largest Christian Orthodox churches in the world.

One section, featuring the head of Jesus, was put on display for people attending a service. When completed by the end of the year, the mosaic will cover some 13,230 square feet of the inside of the church.

At a ceremony inside the sprawling church today, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said the mosaic “will once again show our unity and togetherness with the Russian people and the Russian state.”

The Bible Fraud

Conspiracies, conspiracies….

H/T: Here

“….attempting to summarize what Tony [ Tony Bushby in his “The Bible Fraud”] has written….. in 325 AD, the first Christian council was called at Nicaea to bring the stories of twin brothers, Jesus ‘the Rabbi’ and Judas Khrestus into one deity that we now know as Jesus Christ. Tony says they were not born of virgin birth but to Nabatean Arab Mariamne Herod (now known as the Virgin Mary) and fathered by Tiberius ben Panthera, a Roman Centurion. The brothers were raised in the Essene community and became Khrists of their faith. Rabbi Jesus later was initiated in Egypt at the highest of levels similar to the 33rd degree of Freemasonry of which many Prime ministers and Presidents around the world today are members. He then later married three wives, one of whom we know as a Mary Magdalene, a Druidic Princess, stole the Torah from the temple and moved to Lud, now London…..”

The Fast and Our Time

greenfield*Below is an excerpt from an interview with Rastko Jovic, Docent at the Theological Faculty in Belgrade, from the April 1, 2017 issue of the Patriarchate magazine Pravoslavlje:

It would be customary for us, in the beginning, to hear of the appearance of the fast and its Biblical foundation?

-In the Old Testament they fasted  for various reasons, for the forgiveness of sins, or when they needed to communicate with the spirits of the dead, or it was a petition to God to remove a misfortune that fell on the people, or it was a preparation for dialogue with God. Therefore, in the Old Testament there were a multitude of reasons for fasting. However, the fast is not something special and unique to the Jewish people, other nations had it as well, for instance the Phoenicians, but also ancient Greeks. Early Christianity, therefore, moved between various different interpretations of the fast, but it also made radical changes. Unlike the Jews of the Old Testament, Christianity didn’t have a division between clean and unclean foods. This created a great change which allowed for a social interaction between Christians who converted from Judaism and those who who had pagan backgrounds. Also, this allowed the mission of the Church to be more successful and penetrating. And the fast which was taken from Judaism, now received a new meaning of which we have evidence early on. And so The Shepard of Hermas speaks of the fast the saving of money which later need to be given to the poor, while Aristides from the II century writes to Emperor Hadrian that the Christians fast two or three days a week in order to secure food for the needy. Already here we see great changes and the reshaping of the meaning of the fast, the fast becomes Christologically based.  Christ is the God-man, and as our Savior He, in His person, unites God and man, so that love for Christ is at the same time love God and man. And it is particularly out of this reason early Christianity strives to express this newness and through the newly conceiving of the fast. No longer do we fast in order to reduce the relationship between God and man, but now the fast gets a dimension of help and love for our neighbors, which was a living witness of the relationship with God. Of course, it is necessary to avoid idealizing and historical period, since the understanding of the fast was interpreted differently at different times in history in relation to the dominant theological views and energies within Christianity.

If we are in Christ

marcha1“This is a time for ascetic struggle (podvig), prayer and crucifying oneself for God and neighbor. The holy fathers compared the beginning of the fast with the exodus of the Old Testament people, led by Moses out of Egypt. This means leaving the bodily, sinful nature so that man would be able to enter the promised land of grace. On this journey there are three temptations which the Lord revealed to us in the desert – the temptation of bread or the body, vanity or conceit and finally the love of money and love of power.

These temptations act out of our bodily nature – these are the methods that the devil will use to get man to serve him and not the Lord.

The fasting period serves that we recognize these temptations with which we will do battle our entire lives and to push them away from ourselves through asceticsm and prayer. This is why during Great Lent we grow stronger through more frequent church services and communion, for we cannot battle on our own but we need Christ to be the victor within us. If we are in Christ – we will welcome Pascha in joy, but also the the general Resurrection in the eternal and the unending joy.”

Bishop Fotije of Dalmatia

Lost and Found

The question has been asked many times before: If God knew that man would abuse his freedom in the Garden of Eden why did He put Him through such temptation? While we know the answer and that freedom is the greatest expression of love God gave to man – what about man? Did he really know he had freedom? Of course, Adam knew that God told him not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and that it was up to him to follow his orders, but did he have a true concept of freedom?

For that matter, do we know the freedom we have? Do we know the faith we have? Do we know the happiness we have? Or is it only after it’s taken away from us that we realize its value? As the old adage goes, You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

During the first weeks of Lent we include in our daily readings the Book of Genesis and we begin from the beginning. We begin from that first story of freedom lost; paradise lost. We liken ourselves to the Prodigal Son who had to leave his father’s house, squander his possessions to finally “come to himself” and realize all that he had.

This is our journey, let’s embark on it.