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The Number and Days of Fasts ( Continued.....)

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  • Rev. Fr. Dr. Chirathilattu Biji Markose
    The Number and Days of Fasts ( Continued.....) Other than the fasts on Wednesdays and Fridays, there are five more Fasts in a year. The great lent begins on
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 27, 2011
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      The Number and Days of Fasts ( Continued.....)

      Other than the fasts on Wednesdays and Fridays, there are five more Fasts in a year. The great lent begins on the Monday coming closer, before or after the full moon between second February and eighth March.[1] Quoting the Canons of the Persians,[2] Bar Ebroyo directs that a believer who is staying in an uncivilised place having no way to know about the beginning of the fast should begin to observe the fast on twentieth February and end it on twentieth April, it means, he should observe it ten extra days. On the Sunday coming nearest, before, or after, to the completion of this time period he should end the fast with prayers and celebrate the feast.[3] But if he is at a place where he can avail the holy elements of the Eucharist, he has no right to loosen the fast before receiving the Eucharist on the Maundy Thursday, Saturday of Annunciation and on the great Sunday of the Resurrection. But he can loosen the fast if he is in a place where he cannot avail of the Eucharist, because Bar Ebroyo sees Eucharist on all the days and on these days as alike. However, if one hopes that the Eucharist will be prepared for him in few days after the Resurrection, he should not end the lent before receiving it. But, if he does not have a hope like that, he may loosen the lent on the Resurrection day itself in the hope of the faith.[4]
      In Nomocanon, at the beginning of the chapter on feasts, fasts, and prayers (Chapter: 5) itself, referring to the decision of the Apostles, Bar Ebroyo says that nobody should fast on the Saturdays and Sundays during the great lent. But in his "Direction" following it, he instructs that even if the release of the fast is permitted in the Canons of the Apostles because of the added fasting days in the Passion Week, it is not right to eat in the morning itself. But, because of the honour of the holy fast one should attend the Eucharistic Service at the third hour, and finish it and everything associated with it, without being haste, and come out of the Church at the noon. This forty days great lent is being finished in 48 days. Bar Ebroyo presents the different arguments of various people regarding these extra eight days. The first view is that these days are added as the Passion Week in order to persecute our bodies more. It is the Apostles who decided that the Passion Week and the feast of Resurrection should be observed after the forty days lent. Otherwise, this fast would have been finished with the Friday of the forty-day (of the lent). Some say it is because of the Saturdays and Sundays that we break in the fast time, that we fast more than forty days. Still others say that according to the ten percent of the number of the days of the year, we separate by fasts 36.5 days for the Lord. When we reduce the number of the Sundays and Saturdays that we break, from the number of the days from the evening of the Monday of the beginning of the fasts to the morning of the Easter Sunday, we get this number. In this respect Bar Ebroyo further cites from the "Second Book" of the "Holy Clement," which is the extensive Syriac canon collection known as the "Clementinian Octateuch."[5] The first two books of it contain the fifth century ecclesiastical order, "Testamentum Domini." Bar Ebroyo puts down the referred canon of this work as follows: "The end of the 'Pascha' (here used to denote the fast before Easter[6]) should happen after Saturday, namely at midnight."[7] Bar Ebroyo interprets the word 'midnight' as follows: "So that the one tenth part of those five days, that are missing to complete the whole year also will be added."[8] It means that the 36 fasting days unto the Saturday of the Passion Week form just one tenth of the 360 days. From the five days, which are absent to form a full year, 10% will be taken, and it results in an additional half fasting day. That is why the Great Fast is not ended on the beginning of the Easter Sunday, which begins on the Saturday evening as any other day according to the Syrian calculation of times, but only at the mid-night with the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. Bar Ebroyo evaluates these arguments and concludes that only the first one is the genuine reason.[9]


      [1] Nomocanon, p. 57. In Ethicon it is given more detailed: "The great lent begins on the Monday of the week after the new moon rising in February, (or in March, in case it does not rise in February), and lasts forty-eight days." Cf. Ethicon (ed. TEULE), p. 89. [2] The origins of these canons remain anonymous. Bar Ebroyo cites forty-two of them in Nomocanon. Vööbus has collected them in, VÖÖBUS: Syrische Kanonessammlungen I, p. 219f and gives an edition and translation of 26 of them in VÖÖBUS: Syriac and Arabic Documents, pp. 89-92. He proposes a West Syrian monophysitic origin of them. [3] Nomocanon (ed. BEDJAN), pp. 57-58.[4] Ibid., p. 54; TEULE: (ed.). Ethicon, pp. 95-96. Bar Ebroyo has adopted with acknow­ledgement these rules regarding the receiving of Eucharist in connection with the ending of the lent from Jacob of Edessa. Cf. LAGARDE: Letter to Adai, p. 119; VÖÖBUS: Syndicon I, p. 262/239.[5] For details on this collection Cf. Baumstark: Geschichte, p. 252; Hofmann: Clemens von Rom, p. 133.[6] Cf. PAYNE- SMITH: Dictionary, p. 452.(7] Nomocanon (ed. BEDJAN), p. 56.[8] Nomocanon (ed. BEDJAN), p. 56. [10] Ibid., pp. 55-56. A brief account of it is found in Ethicon (ed. TEULE), p. 93 also.

      Source: Chirathilattu Biji Markose: "Prayers and Fasts according to Bar Ebroyo, A Study On the Prayers and Fasts of the Oriental Churches", Lit Publischers, Münster, 2004

      With Love and Prayers
      Fr.Dr.Biji Chirathilattu
      Vicar, St.Basil Yeldho MSO Congregation
      Vienna, Austria
      Web: stbasilvienna.at
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