Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fasting

Fasting is a spiritual practice which is given much importance in Semitic religions. The early Church instituted periods of fasting and abstinence from certain foods following the examples of our Lord as well as those of the Prophets such as Moses and Elijah. While the periods of fasting and Lenten observances are described in early texts such as Didascalia Apostolorum, practices have varied over time.

For instance, the Rogation of the Ninevites was introduced only in the 7th cent. First in the Church of the East and then adopted among the Syriac Orthodox Madenhoyo (Easterners) and later in the entire Syriac Orthodox Church. Through the influence of Syrians, the practice was adopted in other churches such as the Coptic and Armenian Orthodox Churches.

We find that the duration of Lenten observances have varied.

Bar `Ebroyo in his Ethikon states that: "Some people observe the fast of Nativity forty days from the full moon of Teshri (approx November) the second, others twenty-five days from the beginning of Kanun (approx. December) the first, and still others two weeks from the tenth of Kanun the first." (Teule, H.G.B. (trans.). Ethicon. Louvain: 1993, p. 80)

In the Nomocanon, Bar `Ebroyo gives more detailed information about the identity of people who fast 40, 25 or 14 days. The ascetics fast 40 days, lay people in the East (MadenHoye) from Kanun the first (=25 days) and lay people in the west: two weeks from the 10th of Kanun the first. (Teule, 1993, p. 80, fn 44).

Regarding the fast of the Apostles, Bar `Ebroyo says in the Ethikon: "The people in the West observe the fast of Apostles from the Monday after the feast of Pentecost till the twenty-ninth of Hziran (approx June), which is the feast of Peter and Paul; the people in the East till the completion of fifty days. About this fast the Holy Jacob (of Edessa in "A Letter to John the Stylite, ed. A. Voobus in Synodicon I, p. 238/219 trans.) said that it is not compulsory; otherwise anyone not keeping this fast would be blameworthy. But perhaps because our Lord said to his Apostles: the sons of the bride-chamber cannot fast as long as the bridegroom is with them. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them and then they shall fast (Mt 9:15), therefore, when our Lord ascended and the Spirit came, the Apostles fasted and this was accepted as a custom, but not prescribed."

These are just some examples of varied practices within the Syriac Orthodox Church recorded in the 13th cent. Similarly, the foods prescribed during lent have also varied. For instance, in certain areas, in addition to animal products, oil was avoided during lent. On the other hand, we find in a letter of Mor Philoxenos to the Abu Ya'fur the Lakhmid Phylarch references to Christian Turks being permitted to eat milk and meat--but only dried meat--during lent. (Paul Harb (trans.), Lettre de Philoxene de Mabbug au phylarque Abu Ya'fur... OLM Meltho (1967):183-222).

HH Patriarch Aphrem I's of blessed memory relaxation of Lenten observances (No 620; Dec 2, 1952) upon appeal from the bishops in Malankara has to be seen in this context. While the Patriarch's encyclical was promptly ridiculed by then Malankara Orthodox faction Catholicos Geevarghese II (No 210; Dec 8, 1952), Konatt Abraham Malpano (Malankara Malpano of the Malankara Orthodox Church) published an article in Malayala Manorama, praising the wisdom and timeliness of HH Patriarch Aphrem I's decision. In this article the learned Malpano emphatically acknowledges the authority of the Holy Fathers of the Church to set rules for periods of fasting. He welcomes relaxations to keep with the times and changing circumstances. You can read this news clipping from the Manorama at our resource section, which is provided by Mr. T.M. Chacko (Member Id # 0903 of SOCM-FORUM).

The observance of Lents (fasts) were indicated by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself [St. Mathew 9:15, St. Mark 9:29 (Syriac Bible)] and hence it is within the general authority vested in the Holy Church by our Lord Jesus Christ to fix the Lents (fasts) and its observances. In this view of the matter, the relaxations made by Patriarch Mor Aphrem I of blessed memory in consultation with the Holy Synod, and which are in force at present, are in keeping with the divine authority given to the Holy Church to preach and to teach for the edification of the believers. As far as those outside the Syriac Orthodox Church are concerned it may do well for them to remember that the Lenten observances in the Syriac Orthodox Church are internal matters of the Syriac Orthodox Church - it does not impose them on others. And those who are members of the Syriac Orthodox Church need not be bothered by outside criticisms of its Lenten observances, since they are matters within the authority of the Holy Church exercised through the Holy Synod and His Holiness the Patriarch the Supreme Head of the Holy Syriac Orthodox Church."

This FAQ is clarified by H. E Geevargis Mor Athanasios, Patriarchal Vicar for Indian Affairs, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate, Damascus, Syria


source:

Fasting is a spiritual practice which is given much importance in Semitic religions. The early Church instituted periods of fasting and abstinence from certain foods following the examples of our Lord as well as those of the Prophets such as Moses and Elijah. While the periods of fasting and Lenten observances are described in early texts such as Didascalia Apostolorum, practices have varied over time.

For instance, the Rogation of the Ninevites was introduced only in the 7th cent. First in the Church of the East and then adopted among the Syriac Orthodox Madenhoyo (Easterners) and later in the entire Syriac Orthodox Church. Through the influence of Syrians, the practice was adopted in other churches such as the Coptic and Armenian Orthodox Churches.

We find that the duration of Lenten observances have varied.

Bar `Ebroyo in his Ethikon states that: "Some people observe the fast of Nativity forty days from the full moon of Teshri (approx November) the second, others twenty-five days from the beginning of Kanun (approx. December) the first, and still others two weeks from the tenth of Kanun the first." (Teule, H.G.B. (trans.). Ethicon. Louvain: 1993, p. 80)

In the Nomocanon, Bar `Ebroyo gives more detailed information about the identity of people who fast 40, 25 or 14 days. The ascetics fast 40 days, lay people in the East (MadenHoye) from Kanun the first (=25 days) and lay people in the west: two weeks from the 10th of Kanun the first. (Teule, 1993, p. 80, fn 44).

Regarding the fast of the Apostles, Bar `Ebroyo says in the Ethikon: "The people in the West observe the fast of Apostles from the Monday after the feast of Pentecost till the twenty-ninth of Hziran (approx June), which is the feast of Peter and Paul; the people in the East till the completion of fifty days. About this fast the Holy Jacob (of Edessa in "A Letter to John the Stylite, ed. A. Voobus in Synodicon I, p. 238/219 trans.) said that it is not compulsory; otherwise anyone not keeping this fast would be blameworthy. But perhaps because our Lord said to his Apostles: the sons of the bride-chamber cannot fast as long as the bridegroom is with them. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them and then they shall fast (Mt 9:15), therefore, when our Lord ascended and the Spirit came, the Apostles fasted and this was accepted as a custom, but not prescribed."

These are just some examples of varied practices within the Syriac Orthodox Church recorded in the 13th cent. Similarly, the foods prescribed during lent have also varied. For instance, in certain areas, in addition to animal products, oil was avoided during lent. On the other hand, we find in a letter of Mor Philoxenos to the Abu Ya'fur the Lakhmid Phylarch references to Christian Turks being permitted to eat milk and meat--but only dried meat--during lent. (Paul Harb (trans.), Lettre de Philoxene de Mabbug au phylarque Abu Ya'fur... OLM Meltho (1967):183-222).

HH Patriarch Aphrem I's of blessed memory relaxation of Lenten observances (No 620; Dec 2, 1952) upon appeal from the bishops in Malankara has to be seen in this context. While the Patriarch's encyclical was promptly ridiculed by then Malankara Orthodox faction Catholicos Geevarghese II (No 210; Dec 8, 1952), Konatt Abraham Malpano (Malankara Malpano of the Malankara Orthodox Church) published an article in Malayala Manorama, praising the wisdom and timeliness of HH Patriarch Aphrem I's decision. In this article the learned Malpano emphatically acknowledges the authority of the Holy Fathers of the Church to set rules for periods of fasting. He welcomes relaxations to keep with the times and changing circumstances. You can read this news clipping from the Manorama at our resource section, which is provided by Mr. T.M. Chacko (Member Id # 0903 of SOCM-FORUM).

The observance of Lents (fasts) were indicated by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself [St. Mathew 9:15, St. Mark 9:29 (Syriac Bible)] and hence it is within the general authority vested in the Holy Church by our Lord Jesus Christ to fix the Lents (fasts) and its observances. In this view of the matter, the relaxations made by Patriarch Mor Aphrem I of blessed memory in consultation with the Holy Synod, and which are in force at present, are in keeping with the divine authority given to the Holy Church to preach and to teach for the edification of the believers. As far as those outside the Syriac Orthodox Church are concerned it may do well for them to remember that the Lenten observances in the Syriac Orthodox Church are internal matters of the Syriac Orthodox Church - it does not impose them on others. And those who are members of the Syriac Orthodox Church need not be bothered by outside criticisms of its Lenten observances, since they are matters within the authority of the Holy Church exercised through the Holy Synod and His Holiness the Patriarch the Supreme Head of the Holy Syriac Orthodox Church."

This FAQ is clarified by H. E Geevargis Mor Athanasios, Patriarchal Vicar for Indian Affairs, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate, Damascus, Syria

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