My Dear Brethren,
Today we we stand just two days from Holy Lent, the Church’s great Fast, which leads us to Holy Week and the Resurrection.
The idea is to truly fast. The very old tradition is to abstain from animal products and sweets (hence Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner getting rid of butter and eggs). Also, we might consider the number of meals eaten and the quantity of food we eat. One ancient guideline suggests we never eat to the point of feeling entirely full.
St John Chrysostom wrote, “the fast should be kept not by mouth alone but also by the eye, the ear, the feet, the hands and all the members of the body.” In addition to our abstinence from food Lent is a time to put away other things that master us and distract us from the enterprise of godly devotion and living.
St Basil, summarizing thoughts in Isiah 58 says, “You do not eat meat, but you devour your brother.” We must repent from gossip, cruel criticism, slander. Let us cease from self-indulgent nursing of grudges, resentments, jealousies and the the like and be reconciled to one another.
I write today to help us thoughtfully determine our Lenten intentions and land on point Ash Wednesday when our fasts begin.
Blessings on this Shrove Monday,