Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fasting, thoughts

I am sure that whatever stage of my life I am in, wherever, it must be complicated. Everything is so complex, and everything includes learning to fast as a catechumen.

 I understand the fast, in what small way I am able. What I am having a hard time with is how we (ourselves, as a family) should fast. I am surrounded, thank God, by many helpful people who have advice and experiences to share. We have the most wonderful and true friends, as well as a parish full of helpful fellows. They can be roughly divided into 3 groups.

 One group will not comment on how I (personally) should fast. This group includes my priest, and I love him for it. In the depths of my soul. On a more practical level– I am the keeper of the home and have to do the cooking– it's not as useful as I might like.

 Another set of friends encourages me to be easy on myself. They remind me that no one keeps all the fasting rules. They admit they break them– who doesn't?–so it is okay to be less than perfect. Substitute.   Use non-olive oils. Et cetera.

 The third group has few members and most of them are books, not people. This group of advisors urges me to aim high and keep the fast as perfectly as I can.

What should I do? I am sure that some of my advisors would think it fine for us to start off by simply removing meat from our diets according to the fasting days. (or substitute everything with soy versions) We can become more correct later. In effect, I would be making my own rule of fasting and (presumably) following it. This doesn't sit well with me, but I can't say why. I can't imagine keeping the fast to the point of waiting until a certain hour to eat. How would this fit in with Tikhon's work, etc? What about our children, what should we expect from the eldest? How can we do this in a way which can work, even if we don't ultimately hold to it perfectly?

I browse the internet for Lenten recipes to learn. The vast majority of public Orthodox fasting recipes out there break the rules. I really don't know what to make of it. I admit it is probably a fault of mine, but I don't see the point of doing anything if we aren't going to at least try to do it correctly. Try, perhaps fail, but try again.

Still, there remains a temptation to listen to that voice that says, "Don't take it too seriously".

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