Thursday, November 02, 2006

on feasting and fasting

I shall speak first about control of the stomach, the opposite to
gluttony, and about how to fast and what and how much to eat. I
shall say nothing on my own account, but only what I have received
from the Holy Fathers. They have not given us only a single rule
for fasting or a single standard and measure for eating, because
not everyone has the same strength; age, illness or delicacy of
body create differences. But they have given us all a single goal:
to avoid over-eating and the filling of our bellies... A clear
rule for self-control handed down by the Fathers is this: stop
eating while still hungry and do not continue until you are

St. John Cassian

We are preparing for the the Nativity Fast - part of that preparation is talking about it ahead of time - mental preparation. I find keeping the Fast during Advent much more difficult than during Lent. It is completely counter cultural to abstain before Christmas. I also believe that it holds more impact and spiritual punch with my children. We Feast to celebrate the Incarnation. But, I am also a firm believer of accepting hospitality as it is offered. So, we don't purposefully go out and indulge in non Fasting foods; yet we don't go on and on about how "we" are fasting and can't possibly eat what is offered.

The whole issue of food and eating is one I have struggled with over the years. Right now I am of the belief that my kids will not starve - no kidding - or suffer terribly consequences if they don't eat dinner right at 5pm. It is far more important to me that we eat together at the table rather than having them eat at 5pm. Time around the table allows for conversation.

I am interested in what others have to say on this topic.


Mimi said...

I agree with you on all of your points - it is a difficult time to fast as we get ready for the Nativity. And, I also go to the parties and stuff I am invited to, as the friendship and hospitality extended trumps fasting, as I've been taught.

Eating together is important, and we often don't do it until 7ish.

And, lastly, I do also eat a lot of cheese in these couple of weeks leading up to the fast...

Simply Victoria said...

I totally agree about the dinner together, no matter what the time. we often eat late, just because life never happens according to schedule, and the kids prefer it. they complain if we're not going to have a family dinner.
meals, inasmuch as possible, should be family affairs.

elizabeth said...

thanks for your thoughts RW and for the quote. i am gearing up for the fast too; i realized in the last year or so that it was a great and deep blessing that my family always ate together. and that when i was a child, i was free to talk at the dinnertable and was taken seriously.

thanks for your post. i value your thoughts...

Owen's Mama said...

This is the first fast I (we) will be participating in for a long time. Now that I am not breast feeding, or needing to worry about a babe inside me, I can participate. Woo hoo. Note the sarcasm.

Gabe and I are discussing (as I wrote this) what to abstain from. Going whole hog will probably kill us after not doing it for 18 months. We're picking one thing and abstaining from it 100%. At least that is the plan. And at the next fast we'll add one more thing. And not eggplant, or something we don't care about. But big ticket foods like chicken, beef, or cheese.

Lynda B. said...

I am not Orthodox. But I have dear friends who are who have taught me much about the power of fasting. I have practiced my own modified version of fasts for the past two Lents. This will be the first time I have attempted it during Nativity. I very much resonate with your thoughts about balance between accepting hospitality and observing the fast. I also liked the idea from Owen's momma to pick one valued food and abstain from that thing completely.

Many blessings to you and all of the Church during this sacred time of fast.

matthew christopher davidson said...


I just started a mild fasting regime in preparation for my catechumenate.

I think I need to be careful about hospitality. I think there are going to be times where I'm going to have to turn down (or avoid) invitations to events during this season.

Cocktail parties are one thing, since nobody really notices what you take and don't take from the nibblies table.

Meals are another. I think you're right, and I would hate to put a host in a bad place by being pridefully pious. But - it is OK to postpone dinner plans. It is also OK to cross yourself, give thanks, and go. It really is a balance.

Blog Archive