His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry is about fasting, modern man, and role models.
- Your Beatitude, the Trinity or Pentecost ended the Easter cycle. We started a new countdown this week. What is the difference between this period and other annual cycles?
- The Holy Church was born on Pentecost and it was after this holiday that she began to act and preach actively, just like in the church liturgical circle after Pentecost there is a new countdown for every next Sunday, which, in addition to the mystery of the Resurrection, often remembers significant gospel events or events from the Christian stories. On the first Sunday, for example, I recall the Council of All Saints, on the second - All Saints, who shone in the Russian land, and so on.
- June 8 begins Petrov post. Regarding fasting, you can often hear that, they say, in our nervous age, fasting is an additional stress. How useful is fasting to a modern person?
- After the universal flood, due to human weakness, the Lord blessed meat food, that is, people began to eat the flesh of animals and birds. But the person had no previous life expectancy. This testifies to us that fasting is not some kind of cruelty on the part of the Lord to His creation. The Lord wants us through fasting to return to the previous rank of that beautiful dispensation that a man had in Paradise. In other words, fasting is not stress for a person, it is a tool that relieves stress from a person.
- How to prepare everyone for the post correctly? What can be done in a post that is impossible?
- In a post we limit ourselves, first of all, from fast food. For humans, plant foods are natural and most beneficial to their health. And when people get very sick, or when old age comes to people, even doctors don’t recommend eating heavy meat. It is more useful for young people, for those who have a strong body, who work hard physically. And the Holy Church, knowing that it is useful to man, invites us to abstain from meat and dairy products during Lent in order to restore harmony in our bodies and the natural order and order that God has established in every person. When we fast, our body is rebuilt. If a person ate meat all the time, then at first it may be difficult for him to live only on plant foods. But this is called a positive reaction, after a while everything will be restored, and the person will feel normal. If a person who smokes for a long time is forced to quit smoking, then he begins to have psychosis, some unpleasant changes in the body. But this does not mean that a person needs to smoke, in this case, malaise is just a positive reaction to healing.
- What can happen to those who do not fast?
- A fasting person has personal experience of overcoming various everyday difficulties and temptations, and a non-fasting person is deprived of such an experience. I wish that we all enrich ourselves with the experience of spiritual struggle, through which we go to spiritual perfection. The Holy Church is calling us to this today - through a blessing on the Peter post. It must be remembered that when a person attaches also spiritual fast to bodily fasting, he begins a particularly intensive spiritual development, ascent from degree to degree, or as the Holy Church says, spiritual perfection that begins on earth and continues forever in heavenly life .
- And the last, personal question. Do you have a role model?
“We all Christians are trying to imitate our Savior and Creator, because every person has God within him: only a person is born, the Divine already sanctifies and fills him. Some saints had the opportunity to see the Divine even with their own eyes: at the same time, they were filled with the Divine light inside, which, in fact, expanded their heart and soul to the point that they could see God Himself. True, there were very few such people, among them the Monk Silwan of Athos, to whom the Savior Himself appeared. When the Lord was somewhat estranged from the Holy, the Monk Silouan suffered heavily that he no longer saw Christ during the prayer, which was now immensely more difficult for him. The Monk Silvanus is a role model, for he shows us how, by labor and prayer, we must draw near to Christ in earthly life. Another example of holiness, very useful for modern man, the Monk Mary of Egypt, who from a great sinner through labor, prayer and repentance became a great saint. We are not capable of such feats, but we must know that when a person gradually, from fasting to fasting, from fasting day to fasting day, tries to restrain himself, to keep within the framework of the Divine Law, he also comes to his measure of perfection and is merged with mercy from God and here, on earth, and in Heaven - in the eternal Kingdom.
1st lesson in repentance: prayer, humility, and non-judgment
Preparation for fasting and repentance begins with the prayer cry of the great sinner Mary of Egypt, who could not enter the Jerusalem temple until she realized who she was and turned to the Virgin through her icon for help, until she promised to change her sinful life. The penitential chant “Repentance opens the door, Life-giving!” Accompanies us not only on all preparatory Sundays. It sounds until the 5th Sunday of Lent. And God opens the “door” of repentance for us, helps to enter it in the happy time of abstinence and a new “birth”.
The first Sunday was given to us so that an attentive Christian would make himself think about why he should not pray like a Pharisee, why pride reduces the value of our deeds, condemnation of the weak deprives us of God's grace, and humility gives rise to spiritual life in the period of fasting. The publican did not see anyone but himself, recognized his sins, condemned only himself and, as a condemned man, needed a Savior and asked for mercy for himself. The conclusion that we must draw is the following: anyone who exalts himself, that is, who puts himself in the place of God in order to judge others, will be humbled (more precisely, he will remove himself from God), and a humiliating himself, a humble one will be exalted and close to God ! Good deeds must be done so that we are not praised, but thanked God!
2nd lesson: chastity and obedience
Reading the Gospel about the prodigal son of the second Sunday calls us to “complete” repentance - to repentance not by words, but by deeds, by our whole life. Christ shows us the consequences of disobedience and the abandonment of the “Father's House” - the Holy Church: the youngest son, through his sinful life, himself fell into the trap of shameful slavery and living with pigs. The Lord at the same time warns us why we should not feel that we are the eldest son in the Church, who looks in amazement at the younger brother humbly, with repentance, returning to his father, who joyfully meets him with open arms.
The 136th psalm (sung at the evening service this Sunday and the next two) says that earthly life after the fall is a captivity with which many have become accustomed. We are the citizens of Heaven. To gain freedom, we should decisively smash the “babies” of sinful thoughts on the stone of faith. This is easy to do at the very beginning of the appearance of sinful thoughts, when they have not yet grown up and tied us, like those apostates who were taken away for the sins of spiritual fornication with false and alien gods.
The Apostolic Epistle (1 Cor. 6: 12–20), containing the theology of the body, abstinence, and service to God, speaks of the preciousness for the Creator of every person. Not everything that is permissible to us is useful. Abstinence from excesses, including in food, helps us to “come to our senses”, become a real person, and be in unity with God. The body of a Christian from the moment of Baptism is a temple of the Holy Spirit, part of the Body of Christ. And the Christian’s task is to glorify God with body and soul, which are God’s. The Apostle Paul warns that the fornicator is his own enemy and destroys his body, spoils his life!
3rd lesson: virtue and love
The Gospel reading of the third Sunday - The Last Judgment Week - speaks of how God wisely combines love and justice, how Christ will judge, have mercy and save. Heavenly Judge will condemn without condemning anyone, since each person writes for himself that law, according to which he will be condemned or acquitted. This judicial code is written by our whole life. He who does not show mercy and love for another person, rejects the Savior, does not want His mercy for himself. The Gospel sheep is an image of humility, humility, and the goats are obstinacy. The main rule of the Court of God is that God will have mercy on us if we do good. Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh said in his sermon that Christ wants us to “become the hands and feet of God who do good.” Fasting is solidarity with the poor and the wretched, deprived of their daily bread. This is a time of love and increased mercy. We will try especially during the days of Lent to live and do good so that the Last Judgment becomes blessed, joyful and saving for us!
Lesson 4: Forgiveness and Crying for Sins
On the last Sunday before fasting, the Church teaches us forgiveness. This is a call not only to plead guilty, to recognize their guilt, not to shift it to other people and circumstances. The word “forgive” the commandment of Christ “if you will not forgive people. "(Matthew 6:15) means: to make relations with God and those around us" simple "again, that is, direct, even, such as they were from the very beginning in paradise. Adam did not recognize himself guilty of sin before God and did not ask Him for forgiveness, did not forgive Eve, but he tried to put the blame on God and Himself, because he gave him such a wife. Eve, in turn, pointed to the serpent. And because they, as small children, blamed each other, circumstances and even God Himself, for not repenting, did not ask God for forgiveness, began to hide from Him and run away, hide from the All-Seeing, they turned out to be the gates Raya. God sent Adam to the gates of paradise, so that he could see that destruction caused by sinful disobedience, and learned to repent, abstinence, fasting to protect the soul from sins and temptations, to learn to mourn sins, because tears wash the soul like water from sinful filth. In other words, the expulsion from paradise was also for pedagogical purposes, in some ways similar to the way a child from a parental home is sent to school.
May Christ help all of us to adequately prepare for Lent, to be cleansed by repentance, bathed in tears of repentance, defeat the devil - the main enemy of our salvation, free ourselves from passions, be born again spiritually in the Sacrament of Confession, be filled with Manna from Heaven in the Sacrament of the Eucharist and joyfully achieve a spiritual new The Promised Land - blessed immortality and spiritual rejoicing on the bright holiday of New Testament Easter!
How to prepare the body for fasting: health
Fasting is a difficult test for the body. This is especially true for the first and last week of fasting, when the amount of food is minimal. Before fasting, we advise you to consult a doctor and find out if you have any contraindications for fasting. Fasting is the time to cleanse the body, and not to acquire new diseases, so take this matter seriously.
We change the diet in advance
Start the post with the right thoughts and prepare yourself for this in advance. Feeling of hunger contributes to mood swings, and the right attitude will help fix this.
Experts recommend drawing up a pre-obese diet and giving up alcohol in advance.
It is also very important to consult with a specialist about the vitamin complex you should drink before fasting, because during fasting you will not get enough nutrients.
Even before fasting, try to give up fatty foods. If you eat meat, then start to cook it for a couple or on the water. Cut back on meat gradually. Replace mayonnaise with olive oil, and start cooking porridge on water.
Sweets should also not be eaten during fasting. Therefore, we will gradually reduce the amount of foods high in sugar. To begin with, drink at least tea without sugar. Over time, replace all sweets with dried fruits and honey.
Getting ready for the post: procedures
The week before fasting is called cheese, better known to us as Shrovetide. During this week you can still eat fish, eggs, cheese, dairy products. As you know, it is also customary to bake pancakes and treat them all. On Wednesday and Friday, only 1 meal is allowed - in the evening.
The last Sunday before the beginning of the fast is called “Forgiveness Sunday”. On this day, people forgive each other, forget all insults. The last time before fasting is allowed to eat butter, milk and dairy products. Believers go to the temple in the evening, where after the evening service a special rite is performed, during which all parishioners ask each other for forgiveness, and the church and God ask for forgiveness of sins in order to enter Great Lent with a pure soul and bright thoughts.
The first day of fasting is Clean Monday. Believers on this day clean the house, thereby cleaning it from Shrovetide, wash in the bath, put on everything clean and meet fasting clean.
Get ready for the post in advance, then it will not be so difficult for you to refuse prohibited products.
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