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Eight Day Fast

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  • Steve Kurien, Tampa, Florida
    Dear friends, It was argued that 100% of our Church was in favor of canonizing the Eight Day Lent. Perhaps that should be read as 99%, as I, myself would like
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 5, 2004
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      Dear friends,

      It was argued that 100% of our Church was in favor of
      canonizing the Eight Day Lent. Perhaps that should be read as 99%,
      as I, myself would like to argue against it.

      Just because a practice has been well accepted amongst the
      members of our churches does not mean that that practice is right,
      or Orthodox. Real Orthodox dogma is primarily concerned with the
      Holy Trinity and the Incarnation, from which all other Church
      teaching proceeds. Orthodoxy is Christ-centered. Even when we
      venerate the Saints, we venerate the Saints for their love of
      Christ. When we fast, we fast in order to focus more clearly on our
      Lord Jesus Christ. All the canonical Orthodox fasts point to Christ:
      1) Advent Lent- Anticipation of Christ's arrival into this world
      2) Nineveh Lent- Jonah typifies Christ and anticipates His
      death and Resurrection
      3) Great Lent- Allows us to experience to a degree the
      sufferings of Christ in anticipation of his Resurrection
      4) Apostles' Lent- Recognizes the Apostles as the shepherds of
      Christ's Church. St. Ignatius teaches that the overseers of the
      Church are in the "image of Christ."
      5) St. Mary's Lent- in honor of the Dormition (falling asleep)
      and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We honor her because she
      is the Theotokos, the one who bore God Incarnate, through whose
      cooperation the Divine plan of God could be carried out for our
      Salvation.

      Now what is the motivation behind the Eight Day Lent many of us are
      practicing? We are told that we are honoring the birth of the
      Blessed Virgin. While the birth of St. Mary is indeed part of the
      Divine Plan, is it really an "Immaculate Conception" parallel to the
      birth of Christ? Let's grant that the Birth of St. Mary warrants a
      Feast Day at the very least, this does not mean we need
      a second Lent dedicated to St. Mary practically (with
      reference to Christ) acknowledging the same things as the first. I
      am hard pressed to believe that the Fathers of the Church through
      the past 2000 years have been remiss in which Lents are canonical or
      not. I wonder if Saint Mary herself would think that an extra Lent
      devoted to her is really necessary.

      Even if the Lent is not really "necessary" or "canonical," what is
      wrong with observing it? I, myself, do not observe all of the 5
      Canonical Fasts for one reason or another, and usually do not
      participate in regular Wednesday and Friday fasting. I don't know
      how many of you all do either. If we aren't practicing what is
      already designated by the Church, why are we practicing things
      independently? Are we disobeying what we are taught in order to
      glorify Christ? What makes any one of us lay-people think that we
      know better?

      Steven Kurian
      stevekurian@ yahoo.com
      St. Gregorios Malankara Orthodox Church
      Tampa, Florida
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