Monday, September 22, 2008

8 day Lent in The Month of September

8 day Lent in he Month of September
Shlomo Thomas Daniel.

The 8 day lent observed in Malankara is associated with the birth of
St. Mary. The practice originated at the ancient St. Mary's Church,
Manarcaud, near Kottayam. The tradition of congregations fasting from
the first of the month until the feast day of the patron saint of
their church was common practice in the past. The fast in connection
with St. Mary's Assumption (Shunoyo) from Aug 1-15 is a prescribed
fast of the Church universally. It was at the St. Mary's Church at
Manarcaud that the tradition of fasting prior to St. Mary's birth
date in Malankara began. Due to the influence of this ancient church,
other churches in Malankara also adopted this practice. It is by no
means a prescribed fast of the Church.

However, the Church does celebrate the birth of St. Mary universally.
In the calendars of the Church in the Middle-East and the diaspora,
the date is Sep 7th; in Malankara, for some reason, it is 8th. The
fact that the Church celebrates St. Mary's birthday does not suggest
even remotely that the Church accepts the Roman Catholic dogma of
Immaculate Conception. We are merely celebrating her birth; we are
not making any dogmatic statements regarding the nature of her birth.

It is fashionable for critics to deride the now common Malankara
Syriac Orthodox practice of fasting prior to St. Mary's birthday
claiming that this is a Roman Catholic influence. There is no truth
to this; the fast at Manarcaud is not a recent innovation. I hope
that these false arguments do not dissuade anyone who wishes to set
apart a few days for fasting and prayer.

In the love of our Lord,
Thomas Joseph


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