How to “combine” secular holidays and Orthodox fasts is an eternal question, in the sense that priests always clash with him, hearing him again and again from people beginning to church. On the other hand, there is no single and hard “dogmatic” answer to this question: sometime it’s worth doing this, sometime it’s different, based on the circumstances of life. And here the priest can tell something, rather, from his own experience. Those who are to celebrate any holiday date with the current Lent are addressed to our conversation with the clergyman of the Peter and Paul Church Priest Vasily Kutsenko.
- Father, that's what is interesting: we are talking about how to share a festive meal with unbelieving relatives during fasting, and it sometimes seems that this question arose precisely in our everyday realities. But in the history of the Church this problem is probably not new?
- In fact, this question arises already in apostolic times. A week before the beginning of Lent, a fragment from the First Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Christians of the ancient city of Corinth is read (see: 1 Cor. 8, 8 - 9, 2), and there the apostle answers the question: is it possible for Christians to eat products consecrated in pagan temples? It is connected with the fact that Christians could be invited to dinner on the occasion of any celebrations by their relatives or friends - pagans. Moreover, all the festive treats were consecrated according to pagan rituals, and often meals themselves could be arranged at pagan temples. In his answer, the apostle Paul writes: we know that the idol in the world is nothing (1 Cor. 8: 4). He reminds us that food does not bring us closer to God: for whether we eat, we gain nothing, whether we eat, we lose nothing (1 Cor. 8, 8), but calls on Christians not to abuse their freedom. Well, if a Christian realizes the insignificance of idols and pagan rituals and understands that eating food from a pagan temple will not do him any harm. But the sin is that a Christian who is new or weak in faith may be tempted to see his older brother partake of the sacrifice. Therefore, the apostle writes: if food seduces my brother, I will not eat meat forever, so as not to seduce my brother (1 Cor. 8, 13).
- And if there is nobody to “seduce”, because nobody in the family fasts anymore? And at the same time at the time of the post is the anniversary of the spouse, one of the parents, relatives?
- One should act with birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations, guided by Christian love for those people who will be at this celebration, a sense of proportion and their own conscience. If refusal to participate in a birthday or anniversary can cause resentment, it is better to come to a holiday. But at the same time, we can well say in advance that it is time for fasting, and ask them to prepare meatless dishes along with fast-food.
- Guided by conscience ... I have a friend who was familiar with the anniversary of the atheist leader drank a glass of champagne for his health. And after a colleague they told her: what kind of believer are you if you drink in fasting?
- This is a case from the category of those about which the words of the Lord Jesus Christ can be read in the Gospel: John came, neither eats nor drinks, and they say: there is a demon in him. The Son of Man came, eating and drinking, and they say: Behold, a man who loves to eat and drink wine is a friend of tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 11, 18–19). I think that you just need to keep in mind that it really can be like this: if you refuse to participate in the celebration - they will condemn, you will go to the celebration - they will condemn anyway. And take it calmly.
- And what if the child’s birthday falls on the fasting period?
- I will answer from my personal experience. My youngest son’s birthday will always fall on Lent. We celebrate it. Young children perceive a birthday as a very important personal event, therefore, I think, one should not show excessive severity here.
- It’s good when the children are small. But what about teenagers - after all, they want on their holiday not only to sit at a table, where there can be a relatively lean menu, but also to go somewhere, have fun?
- The answer depends on whether the teenager is a believer or not, whether he attends the temple or not. Believing teenagers usually have the same believing friends, and then it will be much easier to find some kind of compromise. If, for example, there is a youth society at the temple, then you can celebrate your personal holiday there - in a circle of like-minded people, cheerfully and at the same time quite piously.
If the teenager’s friends are non-church and he wants to invite them home on his birthday, then, I think, again, there is no need to refuse this. And turning a feast into a "wake" is also not worth it. Good, good contests or games are quite appropriate. If we talk about unchurched teenagers, I cannot give any specific advice here. It is one thing if these children listen to the opinion of their believing parent, and another if not. I believe that the important point here will be at least that the decision on the holiday program will be a joint one, and not the decision of the sole parent or the sole child.
Newspaper “Peter and Paul Leaf” No. 24, March 2017
Orthodox Christians began the Christmas Lent. What posts still exist?
The fasts were established by the Church as a special time, distinguished from everyday life, when a Christian works hard to cleanse his soul and body, praying, confessing his sins, and partaking of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. Fasting abstain from junk food - meat, milk, eggs, sometimes fish.
Fasting existed during the Old Testament, while Christians began to fast from the very foundation of the Church, following the example of the Lord Himself and the apostles. The oldest of the church writers claim that the apostles established the first fast in imitation of the prophet Moses and the Savior, who fasted 40 days in the wilderness. Hence the name of Great Lent is the Fourteen.
Some church scholars believe that the fast initially consisted of 40 hours. Ancient Christian books (II, III century) tell us about the custom of fasting for two days. Fasting before Easter was 6 days, as Dionysius of Alexandria talks about it.
Thus, the Great Lent (Holy Pentecost), as it exists today, has developed gradually. Church historians believe that he finally took shape when it became customary to baptize new converts for Easter and prepare them for the adoption of the Sacrament of Baptism by long fasting. Out of a feeling of brotherhood and love, all believers began to participate in this post along with them.
Already in the 4th century, Lent existed everywhere in the Church, but it did not begin everywhere at the same time and did not last 40 days everywhere. The post was very strict. The ancient Christian writer Tertullian says that only bread, dried vegetables and fruits were allowed, and that not earlier than in the evening. This was called dry-eating. During the day they did not even drink water. In the East, dry eating was kept until the XII century, then not only vegetables, but also fish, and even some birds began to be considered lean.
Any joy and fun was considered a violation of fasting. The general rule was to abstain from stimulating foods and to moderate consumption of even authorized foods.
In subsequent times heresies appeared, some of which considered fasting as the main duty of a Christian, while others, on the contrary, completely denied its significance. Church rules, generalizing the experience of the first centuries, punish not only anyone who violates the established fast without the need for health, but also those who claim that eating meat is a sin even on holidays, and condemns the use of meat food at the permitted time.
In the days of Lent, all kinds of shows were forbidden in Christian countries, baths, shops, meat and other livestock products were closed, only basic necessities were sold. Even court hearings ceased. Christians did charity work. These days, slaves were often set free or freed from work.
Posts are divided into one-day and multi-day. Multi-day posts include:
- Great Lent, or Holy Pentecost.
- Petrovsky post.
- Assumption post.
- Christmas post.
One-day posts include:
- Weekly fasts on Wednesday commemorate the betrayal of the Savior by Judas and on Friday commemorate the suffering and death of the Savior.
- However, there are no fasting weeks on Wednesday and Friday. This is: Easter week, which is revered as it were for one Bright Day, a week after the Trinity, the so-called Christmas time, that is, the time from Christmas to Epiphany Christmas Eve, Week of the publican and Pharisee before Lent (so that we do not become like the Pharisee, who boasted of his piety ), Pancake week (although during it a ban on meat).
- Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross - September 27.
- The Beheading Day of the Head of John the Baptist is September 11th.
- Epiphany Christmas Eve, that is, the day before Epiphany - January 18.
Great Lent consists of: 40 days (Four Decades), two holidays (Lazarev Saturday and Palm Sunday), as well as Holy Week - only 48 days. It is called Great not only because of its duration (it is longer than all the others), but also because of the great significance of this post in the life of a Christian.
In addition to 7 weeks of the post itself, the charter prescribes 3 more preparatory weeks for it. They begin with the Week of the Publican and the Pharisee. From the beginning of the week to the end of the meat, there is no longer any meat at the meal; it will appear only during a conversation during the Easter meal. The whole week is also called Cheese, or Pancake week, because the main food during it is dairy products, fish, eggs, cheese.
3 weeks before Lent, on Sunday, when the gospel text of the parable of the publican and the Pharisee is read at the liturgy, they begin to use the Lenten Triode, a book of liturgical texts that defines the features of worship during Lent.
On Sunday, which was called the Week of the Publican and the Pharisee, a special penitential prayer from the psalm is sung in the morning: “Repentance by opening the door.” This is the beginning of the preparation for fasting. The singing of the penitential prayer continues on the matins on Sundays (Weeks) 2, 3, 4 and the week of Lent, inclusive.
The Prodigal Son Week is the second preparatory week. On Sunday, the liturgy reads the Gospel with a parable about the prodigal son. In the morning, a new penitential chant sounds: "On the rivers of the Babylon." (Psalm 136).
Last Judgment Week is the third preparatory week. The Gospel of the Last Judgment is read on Sunday. This Sunday is also called meat-eating, since this is the last day of the meat-eater. From Monday to Easter, meat cannot be eaten.
On the eve of meat Sunday, the Ecumenical (meatless) parental Saturday. On this day, the memory of all from a century of deceased Orthodox Christians is celebrated.
The next week after this Sunday is called Maslenitsa. .
Adam's Exile Week - Forgiveness Sunday. On this Sunday, the Gospel passage is read about the forgiveness of insults and fasting. Adam’s exile is recalled in many liturgical texts. In the evening, everyone gathers in the temple for the order of forgiveness. The service is already on guard, black vestments, bowing and penitential singing. At the end of the service, a sermon is read on the forgiveness of insults, on fasting and a prayer with blessing on Lent. Priests, starting with the elder, ask for forgiveness from the people and from each other. Then everyone approaches the priests in turn, bowing, asking for forgiveness and themselves forgiving them all sins and grievances, while kissing the cross and the Gospel as a sign of sincerity. Parishioners also ask for forgiveness from each other. Such forgiveness of mutual insults is an indispensable condition for the purification of the heart and the successful conduct of Lent.
Lent differs from the rest of the year in special services.
Firstly, the Divine Liturgy (except for a few holidays) is not served on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, on Wednesday and Friday the liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is performed, and on Sundays - the liturgy of St. Basil the Great.
Secondly, the volume of texts read in the Psalms increases in worship, and singing becomes much less.
Thirdly, the prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian is read with 16 bows, waist and earth. Special prayers with bows and kneeling standing are added to the service.
All these differences determine the special spiritual atmosphere of fasting, which is not characteristic of the whole year. Orthodox more often than always visit the church so as not to miss special services.
First Week of Great Lent
Reading the Great Canon of Andrew of Crete on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the Great Compline. Wednesday morning the first liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. On Friday morning, after the liturgy, a moleben with the consecration of the coliva (in memory of the miracle of the great martyr Theodore Tyrone). Kolivo is boiled grain with dried fruits, most often rice with raisins. Consecrated koliva is distributed to those present in the temple and is used on an empty stomach that day. The first week ends with Week One, that is, the first Sunday of fasting. This Sunday is celebrated the Triumph of Orthodoxy - the restoration of icon veneration at the VII Ecumenical Council.
On Saturday - commemoration of the dead. On Sunday evening, in many churches the first Passion is served - worship of the Savior's suffering. This is a service with an akathist to the Passion of Christ. The remaining three Passions are served on the following Sundays. Although Passion is not a statutory worship service, it has already entered into a pious tradition.
On Saturday - commemoration of the dead. The week ends with Week Three, the Cross. On the eve, on Sunday night service, the Cross of the Lord is brought to the middle of the temple for worship. Such worship is performed under the singing, "We worship your Cross, Lord, and we shall sing and praise your Holy Resurrection." The cross remains in the center of the temple all week.
Fourth Week, Crusader
This week is more stringent than the second and third. On Wednesday - the presentation of Lent, that is, its middle. On all days of the week worship of the Cross takes place. On Friday, Vespers, the Cross is carried to the altar. On Saturday - commemoration of the dead. The week ends with Week Four, dedicated to the memory of St. John Climacus, the Father Superior and the austere ascetic.
Thursday morning - Marino standing. The service is dedicated to the Monk Mary of Egypt. In this service, the Great Canon of Andrew of Crete is fully read. The Sabbath of the fifth week is called the Sabbath of Akathist, or the Praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the morning the Akathist to the Virgin is read with special holiday chants. But fasting is not loosening that day.
Strict post. Divine services are all special.
In the first three days, special chants are sung: "Behold the Bridegroom is coming at midnight." And "Your Hall." This is a reminder of the forthcoming meeting with Christ, the Heavenly Bridegroom of our souls, in His Kingdom - the beautiful Chamber. These days the liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is served.
On Wednesday evening, a confession for everyone to lighten their souls before Easter. On Maundy Thursday, the Last Supper is remembered, at which the Lord established the Sacrament of Communion - the Eucharist. On this day, all who can receive the Holy Communion of Christ.
In the evening, service to the Passion of Christ. It reads twelve selected gospel passages that recount all the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. These "12 Gospels" and constitute the main feature of the service. While reading, everyone stands with candles. The candle burning during the readings of the “12 Gospels” is called “Thursday” and the unlit one is taken home to flood the lamp, draw a cross over the door jamb with flame.
On Good Friday, the liturgy is not served. In the morning, the Tsar’s clock takes place. In the middle of the day, the Shroud is taken out - the embroidered icon of the Savior, taken from the Cross and prepared for burial. The shroud is placed in the middle of the temple, surrounded by flowers. All bow to her and apply. In the evening of the same day, the Shroud is buried. At the end of the service, a shroud with a procession is worn around the church.
On Saturday morning, the following are celebrated: the hours, Vespers and liturgy of Basil the Great. At the Vespers, 15 parimias are read, that is, readings of the Old Testament, in which prophecies about Christ and His Resurrection are collected. At the beginning of the liturgy, all vestments change from black to white.
On this day, in the morning, the consecration of Easter dishes begins - Easter cakes, Easter, eggs. Consecration can be continued on Easter.
This concludes the Lenten Triodi worship service, and Great Lent ends.
Otherwise, it is called apostolic. The beginning of this post depends on the time of the celebration of Easter, and therefore it is either shorter or longer. The fast begins a week after the Trinity and ends on July 12 with the feast of the supreme apostles Peter and Paul. The largest possible duration of the Petrovsky Lent is 6 weeks, the shortest - 8 days. Its beginning comes from ancient times, it was commanded in apostolic decrees, but it is especially often mentioned from the 4th century.
Пост в честь Пресвятой Богородицы продолжается 2 недели — с 14 до 28 августа, до праздника Успения. Этот пост по строгости напоминает Великий, но ослабляется по воскресным дням, а также в праздник Преображения Господня 19 августа.
В Древней Церкви он назывался осенним. Были разногласия по поводу его продолжительности, некоторые разрешали себе уже на Преображение употреблять в пищу мясо. Но действующие с XII века церковные правила не позволяют этого.
It begins 40 days before Christ and therefore, like Great Lent, is sometimes called the Fourteenth. He is also called Filippovsky, because on the day of its beginning, November 28, the memory of the Apostle Philip is celebrated.
This post is not as strict as the Great, allowed fish. But a few days before Christmas, abstinence intensifies, on Christmas Eve, the last day before Christmas They don’t eat anything until the evening star, in memory of the star that appeared over Bethlehem at the Nativity of the Savior.
Church books have been mentioning the Christmas fast in church books since the 4th century; in its modern form, it was adopted by the Church in the 12th century.
How to celebrate a birthday during Lent?
Organize a modest holiday for which only close friends and family members are invited. Before the feast, be sure to pray with the guests. You can stage a small production on a Christian theme.
What will be better to prepare for a birthday in Lent? You can set a sweet table for children. Serve delicious and beautifully decorated vegetarian dishes: fruit salads with honey, nuts with dried fruits, halva, gozinaki, etc. Fruit drinks, fruit drinks, kvass can be offered from drinks.
If you don’t want to celebrate the child’s birthday, try to explain it to him and convince him. Ultimately, he, not the parents, must make the decision, otherwise the child will feel restrained. Although he will fulfill the will of his father and mother, protest will grow in his soul, and sooner or later this will lead to conflict in the family.