a peaceful fast
O Word supreme in love, who with the Father and the Spirit hast created all things visible and invisible in Thy wisdom past speech, grant that we may spend the season of the joyful Fast in profound peace.
Matins: Tuesday in Cheesefare Week
This past week of Meatfare and this present week of Cheesefare offers Orthodox Christians a wonderful occasion to clean our pantries of leftover meat, dairy and eggs as we ease into the strictness of the Fast – when, through the effort of Lent, we also clean the pantry of our hearts. During the forty day fast we forgo heavy and clogging meals, seeking instead our nourishment from lighter and more cleansing plant-based sustenance. All of this fasting fare is, of course, fortified with the Lenten services and soul-restorative calories found as the faithful graze within the beautiful spiritual pastures Lent.
Throughout these past weeks, our Mother the Church, has shepherded, taught and nudged the faithful closer and closer to the bounds of the Great Lent. It is through these weeks of preparation that the aspiration of this Great Fast has been made clear once again – that it is not the rigidity of dietary restrictions (to which we are certainly called to adhere), but rather the grace of an inner change of heart.
Genuine fasting has as an essential ingredient the relationships of family and community. Isn’t it pleasant when brothers dwell in unity… we are not saved alone. A wise retired priest told me once that being in family and community can be likened to a satchel of sharp jagged rocks. Through the jostling of life we rub each other, sometimes the wrong way, with our sharp edges. Friction happens – but through time and forgiveness, those rocky edges become smooth and mellowed. Forgiveness Vespers seeks to erode those jagged edges of relationship.
And so it is, that this Sunday, the Orthodox Christian Lenten journey is ushered in with love and forgiveness.
How appropriate that the first flavor of this awesome labor of fasting is found in a feast… the blessed taste of forgiveness – that given and received – during the Vespers of Forgiveness this very weekend. These past weeks of the humility of the Publican, the faithful perseverance of the woman at the well, the coming to his senses of the Prodigal – a return to the Father – these intend to soften hearts.
Great Lent is a walk of joy, an annual journey of the faithful body of Christ.
Does it really come as any great surprise that the faithful rejoice in this Fast with gladness? For truly, to savor even a crumb off of Lenten tables laden with abstinence, reminds us that we are blessed, we are blessed, we are so very richly blessed!