“Passions” about the “usefulness/uselessness” of the Apostles fast arise every year. The phrase that there is only need for the winter Nativity Fast and spring Great Lent and the rest ones are unnecessary can be often not only read on the Internet, but also heard in the parishes.
It is not surprising, when those, for whom the house of God is only a “founding myth” and a “tribute to tradition”, grimace and protest. The doubts of the supporters of new exemptions are also known: they grumble even during Great Lent, let alone during the Apostles fast, when a week after the Sunday of the Holy Trinity you remind them of St. Peter’s fast…
Yet this is a certain number of people with special views. In turn, I want to answer the questions of ordinary parishioners, not immersed in controversy, and Christians who are new in the faith, who are among our readers ” : those, who complain about the severity of this summer abstinence in food and entertainment. And in my opinion, they do it in vain.
My dears! In fact, what are you confused about?
When opening any printed publication or turning the TV on, you immediately stumble upon tips on weight loss, on how to run off excess fat and recommendations on a diet to improve health. You love reading these articles and watching these TV programs so much! What logic is that?
Do we moan and groan (about rough life, temptations, and troubles) due to malnutrition? More often it is quite the opposite! Most of our parishioners have such medical records in health clinics, which resemble adventure works (by sins and health) with the volume of “War and Peace”.
So why go blaming the fast?
By the way, we do not ask questions, when after any secular holiday (for which we prepared, strained after, and saved money) there surely come days of a lot of work, both physical and mental. Is it not reasonable to do the same for the Church’s great feast days?
Let’s remember: since Bright Sunday we were practically in a daily spiritual celebration and bodily indulgences. Is it not time to stop? Is it not time to look inside oneself?
Do you remember the Vysotsky’s periphrasis of Shakespeare’s Hamlet “I turned mine eyes into my very soul, and there I see such black and grained spots”? In order to be able to look inside, fasting is mandatory. Otherwise, spots would not be visible…
The beauty, given by God, is full-fledged only then, when it knows where to draw a line. So let us maintain this line, get used not only to enjoying peace and rest, but also to rising in time for spiritual work. Not to become bloated and lapse into idleness.
We cannot be lazy in love. Every Orthodox Christian knows that our faith is a cycle of love in nature. Yet love cannot exist without compassion and sacrifice, without work and forcing oneself, both in bodily and spiritual way. Let us not avoid the opportunity to learn new lessons in this school of love, which the Church Tradition opens for our salvation! Let’s sit at “desks” for another school “term” after holidays.
In the canons of our Mother Church it is clearly written that fasting is prescribed after the Sunday of All Saints till Apostolic celebrations. This is done for a reason, not because of a human whim, but for our benefit. The main thing here is that without inner concentration, analysis of one’s personal trinity (body, spirit, thoughts) it is impossible to truly respond to Christ’s call:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).
And abstinence during St. Peter’s fast does not interfere with summer days, vacations, and relaxing at the farm. Remember the old days. Haymaking, household chores, harvesting vegetables and fruits, and fasting! There was always time for everything.
There is no need to be afraid and ashamed of your polite refusal of an invitation to another bodily fun, as there is nothing wrong in explaining why you fast these days. Are you afraid of “what people will say”? Let them. Fear not: even if they tease you in front of everyone, it does not matter, you will be respected even more. Unless, of course, besides bodily fasting you would not forget about loving your neighbors. Without which any of our ascetic feats loses its meaning.
Translated by Julia Frolova